The SNES Classic has finally hit stores, and along with it Hori has released the Wireless Fighting Commander, a pad that seeks to remind players of a bygone era of turbo buttons, slow motion functions and other features designed to give players the edge they needed in the days when home consoles were practice for days spent in arcades.
We’ll be blunt: we love this controller. At first glance it may seem like any other wireless controller, albeit with some bells and whistles, but for those of us that were gaming during the SNES era the attention to detail and care taken with this product are every bit as impressive as the SNES Classic Mini itself.
Even the box is a throwback to official Super NES products from the ‘90s, with the design evocative of the packaging to Nintendo’s own controllers. The pad bears Hori’s old logo, which its pads carried in the ‘90s, too. The nostalgia doesn’t stop there, either. The pad itself is a revival of the wired Fighting Commander that Super Famicom owners could pick up in Japan.
The only change made to the design of this pad is the fact that it’s now wireless - a welcome addition to any console in 2017. The controller is powered by two AA batteries, which are included in the package, and it’s connected to the SNES Classic via a wireless dongle that protrudes a fair bit from the console, and has a red light on it to indicate the controller is connected. The unit we received for review was already paired with the receiver out of the box, but if you need to pair your controller the process is as simple as they come:
It also carries all the accoutrements one would expect of a ‘90s fighting game controller. Each button can be set to be automatically held or rapidly pressed using an array of two-stage switches found on the front of the pad. The first stage enables the turbo function, while the second stage tricks the console into thinking the button is held down. There’s also a slow motion feature on deck with two stages of speed as well. The slow motion effect is achieved by rapidly pausing and unpausing the game, which itself is achieved by rapid simulated presses of the start button. This feature was considered useful in fighting games of the day by allowing one to input moves during the pause delay.
All these features make for a charming controller to have for nostalgic reasons, but beyond that the Wireless Fighting Commander is just a plain good controller, too. The d-pad and buttons feel every bit as good as those found on the real deal. The buttons themselves aren’t concave like the official controller’s Y and X button, and they’re larger too. The L and R buttons are both in their traditional positions atop the controller and in a third column to the right of the face buttons. Initially it would seem that having a layout like this could cause some confusion or lead to mis-pressed buttons, but we had no issues with the controller layout across any of the games on the SNES Classic.
The wireless functionality worked very well under even the most demanding of situations. In our testing area we placed the SNES Classic directly above a wireless router with several wireless devices positioned nearby. Even under these conditions the Fighting Commander didn’t skip a beat.
The Wireless Fighting Commander is a love letter to those that bought the special controllers that lined the pages of gaming magazines in the halcyon days of the 16-bit era. From its packaging to its presentation to its build quality, there is little to find fault with. Like Nintendo, Hori has resurrected a product that some will have incredibly fond memories of and built it in an uncompromising way. It’s the only Nintendo-licensed third-party option on the market right now and it’s easy to see why. If you want to go wireless with your SNES Classic, this is an absolutely essential product.