Every retro gamer knows that part of the mystique and nostalgia of classic gaming is using the actual game controller to play your favorite games. If you're a classic gaming fan, I found a treat floating on the inter-webs which will make your ears perk up and your back hairs raise in tingly delight. Read on, and try not to drool on your keyboard.
Twenty and thirty-something gamers share one crotchety statement in common; "When I was your age _____" Fill in the blank as you will, we all had our favorite D-Pad driven 2 button classic game. 8 or 16 bits were the standard when rock and roll was king long before Drake or dubstep hit the scene.
Like a Virtual House Fire... Your Memories Are Destroyed
Most gamers have moved forward, collecting shelves or boxes full of old disks and cartridges from games past. Still, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, it's nice to blow the dust off an old classic and remember your wasted youth. Then... the unthinkable happens; your cartridge only displays lines and misplaced pixels! After +20 years most hardware just won't hold up. When I found out my copy of Earthbound for SNES stopped working, I felt like my family dog had just died.
The internet is full of possibility. When one cartridge dies, a million emulators (or ROMS) are born. The legality of these are debatable, but I don't feel bad owning a ROM copy of something I already own hard copy of, especially when you can't get many favorite titles for current generation systems. So, I turn to countless websites and software solutions to get my nostalgic fix.
This solution is so handy in fact that I've relegated my trusty old Nintendo and Super Nintendo in it's entirety to some storage totes in a closet. Why even both hooking up aging systems to HD televisions (which sometimes don't even work) when I can get a quick fix on my MacBook?
Yet, this solution lacks something big... to get the true feeling from a game, you have to have a tactile muscle memory solution. Playing Contra on a keyboard isn't the same as the square brick with those beautiful red buttons that rested in my sweaty preteen hands in the late 80's and early 90's.
Companies like Logitech tried to release game pads to replicate the feel... but my hands knew better. Plus, these solutions were often hackneyed at best. Never quite the right feel, never quite the right functionality... and sometimes they didn't work at all. It just wasn't the same.
A Knight In Silicone Armor
Then over the hills galloped our hero, RetroZone, with something so cool that I thought I'd died and gone to heaven, or at least achieved Nerdvana here on Earth. The RetroUSB kit for retrofitting classic controllers to work with USB. That high pitched squeal you just heard? Yah, that was me. So what?
How It Works
I could explain how it works, but here's instead a link to a much prettier person telling you how to do it in about 6 minutes:
Is It Really That Easy?
No. You need to know your way around a soldering iron. You also need a controller that you know works, and there are a few things that can go wrong. My first attempt I put everything together and got no response. Took another couple tries before I was gaming like it was 1989 all over again.
If you're scared by the prospect of buggering up a good controller, or you don't know a soldering iron from a clothing iron then RetroZone does also have a USB adapter for sale for around $18-22. OR you can pretend to have done the work yourself and order an already finished retrofitted controller for $34-$38.
Any way you go, these are fantastic emulator accessories. Just keep it legal and make sure you only download the games you own (or enjoy "fantastic" originals like NES Snake as seen in the video above). Get yours here: http://www.retrousb.com