The GameCube controller has become the community gold-standard for playing Super Smash Bros. So much so that Nintendo has wheeled out an adapter to make the controller released in 2001 compatible with its home console released in 2012. All for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.
The adapter is about as thick as two retail game cases and looks somewhat like an RF adapter. On the front are four controller ports, spaced similarly as on the GameCube itself. The standard wired controller plug is slim and fits without worry, and bulky WaveBird receivers sit flush with the bottom without adding any wobble. The plastic casing doesn’t prominently show dust or fingerprints, which is a plus for aesthetics.
Two USB plugs power the adapter, and the Wii U can handle two adapters plugged in at once – both technically and physically. If this contraption is the only thing you use your USB ports for then you'll get by just fine. However, if you keep anything else plugged in, like a portable hard drive also powered by two USB ports or perhaps a Skylanders or Disney Infinity portal, you may have to start juggling ports. The absolute worst-case scenario will be for those who hope to take advantage of 8-player Smash battles where everyone uses a GCN controller, and who have bought a digital copy of the game stored on a USB hard drive — fridge cleaning will be necessary. Heaven help you in that case.
With three feet of cord, you should be able to find a comfortable location near your console to place the adapter. Those with WaveBirds can happily stash the adapter somewhere out of sight. Everyone else, though, will have to deal with having a bunch of wires suddenly coming out of their entertainment center – just like the old days!
The new Smash Bros.-branded GameCube controllers are the same quirky pads as they’ve always been, right down to the model number. Only now, there’s a different logo on its face and the cord length is bumped up from the original controller’s 6.5 ft to 9 ft. Nintendo refers to this as “tournament-length” on the box, and coupled with the additional 3 ft from the adapter, that’s quite a lot of slack.
As of this writing, only Super Smash Bros. for Wii U will acknowledge when a GameCube controller is plugged in, so there is no getting around using another controller to get your Smash on. The Wii U menu doesn’t recognize the GameCube controller, so the GamePad, Pro Controller, or Wii Remote are still required to get into the game. And, of course, the GameCube pad doesn’t have a Home button like these other controllers — returning to the console menu, checking friend lists or accessing Miiverse are not possible.
Disappointingly, but unsurprisingly, Wii mode doesn’t acknowledge GameCube controllers at this time either. Thus, N64 Virtual Console games and other titles like Super Smash Bros. Brawl are not compatible.
The GameCube controller adapter does exactly what it says on the tin: it allows 2001-era controllers to work with your 2012-era hardware. However, the support is not limitless, and as of now only works with the one title. If you must play Super Smash Bros. for Wii U with GameCube controllers then for $20 – or $5 a port – this is a worthwhile piece of kit. But since Smash is all it’s good for at the moment, and still doesn’t provide a one-stop solution as you need to use a separate controller to even get into the game, those who have wider aspirations for it may want to hold off on buying for now.