These days, gamers are pretty comfortable with the fact that there are multiple control options available when it comes to playing on their console of choice. The basic, in-the-box pad isn't always the best that's on offer, and there are myriad official and unofficial controllers doing the rounds, each claiming to hold a different benefit over the competition.
However, back in the days of the NES, this proliferation of pads didn't exist to the same extent, and many players would stick with the default controller, blissfully unaware that other options may exist. Thrust into this world was the NES Advantage, an arcade-like controller which claimed to take things to the next level. Not only did it showcase a robust construction which made it ideal for bludgeoning annoying siblings when they beat you on your favourite game, but it also featured a turbo function back when turbo functions were a big deal, and a slow-motion feature when slow-motion was an even bigger deal. It was a premium controller, and if you met someone who owned one, you knew they were deadly serious about this gaming malarkey.
Fast forward to the present day, and the allure of the NES Advantage hasn't dimmed in the hearts of true Nintendo fans. That's why Retro-Bit has cunningly produced a clone of the controller which can be used with original NES hardware (and any clone system which has NES controller ports - like the Retro-Bit Super Retro Trio Plus, for example).
Like the device from which it draws so much inspiration, the Power Stick has two big red buttons and a robust joystick - but it offers a serious advantage (no pun intended) over the original as both of these elements are microswitched for additional precision; the original controller used rubber switches, like the NES control pad. Sadly, the auto-fire and slow-motion functionality has been removed; while we have to admit we rarely used them in the past, it's a shame that these feature didn't make the cut here. The ability to switch between player one and player two has also vanished; the NES Advantage had not one but two controller plugs and could be connected to both ports on the console so that, in the case of games where one player took over after the other died, you didn't need two separate controllers.
In use, the Power Stick works like a charm. It could do with being a little bit heavier, but the build quality is still excellent. The stick and buttons make lovely, loud clicking sounds and feel incredibly precise and accurate, and the 6ft cable is just about long enough to allow you to game on the couch without dragging your NES console across the room with you.
At around $30, the Power Stick isn't going to break the bank but purists may be dismayed to discover that certain selling-points of the NES Advantage are missing - even if they were somewhat superfluous. Still, if you're not bothered about having an authentic arcade stick and own either a NES or a suitable clone, you can do a lot worse than pick one of these up - the microswitched stick and buttons are fantastic.
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