- Similar to classic. Perfect recreation of the classic SNES controller’s smooth, round edges
- Soft gray color. Looks a lot like the real thing with that soft gray color. The only dead give away are the Turbo and Clear buttons in the center and, if you’re really old school, you might notice that the X and Y buttons ahve a different shape to them.
- Fast response time. This is vital in a classic controller. Getting the timing wrong by even a millisecond is all it takes to ruin your perfect run of Contra III: The Alien Wars
- The controller is ridiculously affordable. If you want to get four players together for a game of Turtles in Time, outfitting the squad will be cheaper than taking them out for lunch
- The controller has a good build quality to it. It’s not going to snap in half the first time you drop it, the buttons aren’t going to pop off the face of the gamepad and the casing doesn’t crackle and twist in your hands
- Great compatibility. If you’re running Windows and have a USB port, it works. You can also use it on Android devices, which is great because having the buttons on the screen for phone-based SNES emulators is, let’s face it: not fun at all
- Takes some breaking in. The buttons feel a little stiff at first, but they’ll soften with an hour of normal play
- The weight is just a little bit off. It’s not something most gamers will notice, but it does stand out if you’ve played on a real SNES recently
- Bad for six-button games. It feels great for SNES games, good for NES, but it’s all wrong for Sega Genesis, especially six-button games. Trying to use the shoulder buttons for C and Z will definitely throw you off your game when you’re playing Street Fighter II
- Buttons too close together. The Clear and Turbo buttons are a little too close to the Select and Start buttons, and you’re going to wind up hitting them by accident now and then
- Not suited for new games. This should go without saying, but you never know with some people: The gamepad is not suited for very many games made after 1999. There’s no analog stick, and there’s only two shoulder buttons. Forget trying to play the newest Grand Theft Auto or Metal Gear with this thing
- Not suited for classic games. Likewise, it’s not suited for a lot of classic PC games, those were designed for a keyboard and mouse
- The cord feels a little flimsy. The classic SNES controller cord had a nice weight to it as it dangled to the floor between you and the TV, whereas this one is sort of stiff and… brittle-feeling
It’s not perfect, but it’s as close as you’re gonna get for under twenty bucks. If you’re happy playing an SNES emulator with your SteelSeries Nimbus, that’s fine. But for many of the more nostalgic classic gamers, it’s just not the same without the right gamepad, and BUFFALO has done a fine job of recreating the classic look and feel of the original SNES controller.
If you grew up in the 80’s or 90’s, you remember drooling over video game magazines and wondering how you were gonna save up the fifty or sixty dollars to buy Sonic 2 or Yoshi’s Island. Most of us had limited gaming libraries. If you had more than a dozen games on the shelf, you were basically rich. We had our ways of working around this. We could spend our allowance at Blockbuster, trade old games with friends or borrow their copy of Final Fantasy 6 and be very careful not to save over their file. But the vast majority of games, you just had to accept that you probably wouldn’t get a chance to play them. We couldn’t wait for the Steam Summer sale and pick up a sixty dollar release for five bucks.
So when emulation became a viable option, we were finally able to play all those games without having to spend every last dollar of our Christmas money on them. The Virtual Console is great, the SNES Classic is awesome, we’re happy to pay for these games now that we’re adults with jobs and you can pick up a couple dozen of them in a single package, but a lot of the classics are left out. Nintendo focuses primarily on first party games in their re-releases, and in many instances it’s hard to know who holds the rights to games developed by long-defunct developers like Data East. So emulation remains a viable option for many classic gamers.
The problem with this: The controller is everything.
Playing classic console games on a keyboard just doesn’t feel right, and the Xbox 360-style controllers just don’t sit very well in your hands. So if you’re a classic gamer, then yes, you do need a classic controller. The question is whether BUFFALO’s classic USB gamepad is the one to invest in.
Here’s the important thing: It feels almost exactly like a real Super Nintendo controller. The only major difference when you hold the controller in your hands is the X and Y buttons. If you remember how the classic SNES gamepad felt, the A and B buttons had a rounded M&M type feel to them, while the X and Y were concave, like Smarties, the candy that came in those little cellophane-wrapped stacks that you would usually throw away every Halloween. If we’re being honest, that’s an improvement. The sharper edges of those buttons weren’t always comfortable to rest your thumbs on, but all the same, this may be a disappointment if you’re looking for a perfect nostalgic recreation of your favorite childhood console.
Everything else about the Buffalo Classic USB gamepad is just about spot-on. The weight is close-enough. If you really need that extra half ounce, you can tape a nickel to the back. Not perfect, but close enough. The D-pad is the correct size and the rounded edges feel perfect in your palms. Plug your PC into the TV, sit on the floor and you’ll swear you’re back in 1992 playing Super Mario World for the first time.
If you want something for more modern games, the Steam controller is probably about as good as it gets. But when it comes to retro, you want the old-school equipment to complete the experience.