The original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) saw it’s fair share of third party controllers, first party accessories, and strange peripherals. But the only one I’ve ever really wanted is the NES Advantage arcade controller. After picking up a few shooter’s for the system, I decided it was finally time to track one down.
The NES Advantage is an arcade style controller released fairly early in the system’s lifetime, with a copyright date on the back indicating a 1987 debut. It has a large stick flanking the left hand side. Sadly, it’s not of arcade quality, lacking the audible clicks and solid feel of professional hardware. Despite this, it’s still very accurate. I had no problems with directional movement during some of the trickier part of the excellent Life Force, and the not-so-excellent Image Fight.
The A and B buttons resemble the buttons on an original NES pad, just over-sized. It’s a great looking controller, and captures the 80’s perfecly. The buttons feel great and work well. Again, not arcade quality, but very close.
The real appeal of the NES Advantage is the turbo feature. There are dedicated turbo buttons for both the A and B buttons, which enable or disable the feature. Above the turbo buttons are turbo knobs, allowing you to fine tune how quick the turbo is. I found this incredibly handy for shooters, though I’m sure other genres benefit from this feature as well.
Rounding out the NES Advantage is a start and select button and a slow button. The slow button offers a fake slow-motion feature, which simple pauses and unpauses the game rapidly. I didn’t find it terrible useful, and I’m sure most games wouldn’t work correctly with it enabled.
One of the few awkward, though unique, features of this controller is a player toggle switch. The wire coming of of the controller features 2 separate connectors, which plug into both the player 1, and player 2, ports on the NES console. The idea behind it is that you can use the same controller for 2-players. Though this would really only work on a game like Super Mario Bros., where one player plays at a time (when you die, you slide the toggle and hand the controller to the other player).
Overall, the build quality of this arcade stick is excellent. The bottom of the unit features a heavy metal base with rubber feet, offering a solid, no skid, feel if using on a table top. The plastic shell feels almost identical to the plastics used on the actual console, with similar styling cues to the NES console and standard controllers. The stick and buttons all feel excellent. In fact, I found the buttons to exceed those used on the awesome Neo Geo controllers.
The NES advantage is fairly cheap and easy to find. I grabbed one off eBay for around $10 including shipping. I bought it primarily for shmups and for that purpose, it’s one of the best choices for the system. Highly recommended.
Performance 7/10 - Not quite arcade quality, but the turbo feature is great
Build Quality 9/10 - Worthy of the Nintendo Seal of Quality
Value 9/10 - Cheap
Overall 8/10 - A must have for shmup fans