Given how hard it is to actually find a NES Classic Mini right now, it should come as no great shock to also learn that spare controllers for the console are also in very short supply. While Nintendo seems incapable of meeting demand for this clone system and its accessories, third party peripheral makers are having a field day with their own products. We've already tested out the excellent 8Bitdo Retro Receiver and its accompanying NES30 pad, as well as Nyko's Miniboss pad - both of which offer wireless solutions which mean you can use the NES Classic Mini without having to sit directly in front of your TV. We've now got the My Arcade NES Classic pad which also comes with a wireless dongle, plus a few other tricks of its own.
First things first, the My Arcade NES Classic pad looks awful. Whoever designed this thing clearly wasn't having a good day; the square buttons are ugly and an well-intentioned attempt to give the controller a unique shape hasn't quite worked; it looks awkward when placed next to the real thing. It's perhaps unfair to be too harsh on My Arcade in his regard - peripheral makers are duty-bound to come up with designs which don't infringe on Nintendo's patents - but based on looks alone, this isn't the pad you'd pick first and foremost.
However, when you actually get around to using it, the My Arcade controller works really well. The buttons are responsive and the D-Pad is a pleasure to use - there's no annoying clicking noise from any of these inputs, either. What really makes the pad so great is that it includes a shortcut button combination which allows you to drop back to the NES Classic Mini's home menu without having to get up from the couch and push the reset button on the console.
In terms of range the My Arcade pad is excellent; the manufacturer claims it can operate at a distance of 30 feet and we certainly didn't encounter any disconnections during our review period. Unlike some of its rivals, it's powered by 2 AAA batteries which - according to the manufacturer - are good for around 75 hours. We've not been able to comprehensively test this but we've no reason to doubt that figure; a single pair of batteries is going to go a long way. A rechargeable option would have been nice but at least this controller will still be useful in a few year's time - a built-in rechargeable one would essentially mean that the pad has a finite lifespan.
The My Arcade NES Classic pad is proof that you should never judge peripherals on looks alone; it might not be as pretty as the real thing, but it feels great to use and the inclusion of a handy home menu shortcut is practically worth the cost price alone. Being reliant on AAA batteries is a blessing and a curse, but when you consider that this pad costs just $14.99, it's hard to grumble too much.