Similar to how fighting game players gravitate towards using arcade sticks, Super Smash Bros. players continue to adore using the GameCube controller for competitive play. It’s shocking to see that a controller developed in the early 2000s is still making waves in the tournament scene and continues to be rereleased whenever a new addition to the Smash Bros. franchise is announced.
Yet, I can’t stand to use this controller anymore when I play online in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. That once perfect feeling of control and muscle memory is suddenly missing in this latest iteration of Nintendo’s blockbuster platform fighter on Nintendo Switch, but I’ve managed to find the perfect replacement. I’ll admit that it feels strange to recommend a third party controller, but the Power A Wireless GameCube Controller is the modern remake of the infamous WaveBird that I have always dreamed of using.
Retailing for $70 CAD, the Power A Wireless GameCube controller sports that same classic chassis design that I’ve loved since I was just a wee lad at the age of six. From the handles to the button placement, everything that needed to be replicated perfectly has been with the utmost attention to detail. However, that also means that some things have been updated, and most are for the better. The most noticeable change to the classic GameCube design are the triggers. Since Nintendo Switch games will never take advantage of 2001 analog trigger feedback technology, Power A decided to slim down the triggers and lower the registration point. This means that by default shield, spot dodge, and roll inputs will now come out faster and require much less pressure before they register. The troublesome small Z button has also seen some noticeable updates. Now there are two purple Z triggers on board, mimicking L and R on a pro controller, and they have been substantially increased in size so players can use them easier.
My only complaints with the design of the Power A Wireless GameCube Controller are that I don’t like the different textured plastics used on the sticks and I wish that the controller had a rechargeable battery. The different textured materials used on the control sticks and updated d-pad are something I got used to over the course of multiple play sessions, but I’m still pretty disappointed that a controller in this price range in 2019 still requires AA batteries. Off a single charge of two Duracells, I was able to play with the controller for about 18 hours of total gameplay before they become fully drained. While definitely not the battery sucker that the old WaveBird used to be, there still have been those extremely crappy moments where the controller died on me during the middle of a match because there’s no notification when the battery is getting low.
So why do I love using this controller for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for online and casual play? The reason I’ve switched over from using my Nintendo and Mayflash adapters is the infuriating amount of lag and buffered inputs I feel while using those pieces of gear, and it’s not hard to pinpoint the source of the problem. For players to use a wired GameCube controller, they need to first wire their controller up to an adapter, then hook that to the Switch dock, and finally, the Nintendo Switch has to be placed in the dock. This creates a terrible middleman situation where every single input has to travel through three different channels before being registered. The best way to play Smash online in my experience is with a wireless controller because it’s directly communicating with the console itself via Bluetooth, whether it be with the joy-cons, a Pro controller, or in my case, the Power A Wireless GameCube Controller.
The great benefit to using this controller instead of a traditional GameCube one is that it acts exactly like a pro controller, complete with gyro motion controls and every button necessary to play any game currently available on the Switch. This functionality has created some pretty fun moments where I’ve been able to go back to games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Super Mario Odyssey and experience them again as if they were on an updated GameCube.
The Power A Wireless GameCube Controller is the definitive wireless controller for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. While it does suffer from a few minor issues, the sheer amount of joy I’ve had playing while playing with this controller far outweighs any of those negatives. If you happen to be a Super Smash Bros. player or even just a fond lover of the GameCube like me then this is a controller I believe you should seriously consider picking up. It is definitely pricey for a licensed third-party controller when not on sale, but this is one of the few rare occasions where the quality of the product is so close to matching the high standards set by the manufacturer of the console.