Posted Sat Jul 5, 2014 at 04:33 PM PDT by Brian Hoss
Why the GameCube Controller Is Synonymous With 'Super Smash Bros.'
'Super Smash Bros.' debuted in the latter half of the life of the N64, and was followed up in quick succession by 'Super Smash Bros. Melee' for the GameCube. By the time that 'Super Smash Bros. Brawl' was released for the Wii in 2008, the GameCube controller was the instant clear choice for the majority of players, easily beating out the Wii Remote and Classic controller options.
The 'Super Smash' Wii U Problem
With a Wii U 'Super Smash Bros.' on the way, Nintendo has been facing a problem, how to allow the passionate 'Super Smash Bros.' community to play the game with their beloved GameCube controller layout. These days, where 'Super Smash Bros. Brawl' is a game featured in serious tournament play at all levels, the GameCube controller is almost a standard requirement. It's required in the same way that wired fighting sticks are used for more conventional fighting game tournament play ('Ultra Street Fighter IV,' 'BlazBlue,' etc.).
And thus, while the Wii U has several controller options, including the GamePad, Pro Controller, WiiMote, and WiiMote + Classic Controller, the system lacks what 'Super Smash Bros.' fans require, GameCube controller support.
The 'Super Smash' Wii U Solution
Amazingly, instead of developing a new version of the GameCube controller, like a variant of the Pro Controller, rechargeable, wireless, and stand-alone, Nintendo has opted for a legacy support option in the form of the GameCube controller adapter. The simple $20 accessory connects to the Wii U through the two front USB points, and thereby adds four GameCube controller ports, enabling compatibility for the millions of existing GameCube controllers.
From Nintendo on the Wii U 'Super Smash Bros.', "Use a variety of control methods during the high-energy and action-filled battles, including Nintendo GameCube controllers – the longtime controller of choice for hard-core Super Smash Bros. players."
At the same time, acknowledging the likelihood that new players might want to get their own GameCube controllers, Nintendo has also introduced the GameCube Controller - Super Smash Bros. Edition, which is identical to the thirteen year old GameCube controller design, but features a 'Super Smash Bros.' logo in place of the 'Nintendo GameCube' logo on the controller's face. The GameCube controller design comes from a time when Nintendo's hardware was built to withstand anything from temper tantrums to SCUD missiles, which makes this an interesting re-release, more collectible for the logo change than necessary for current Nintendo made GameCube controller owners.
Fans should not expect a return of the the Wavebird. Nintendo resisted any temptation to reproduce the wireless (RF) GameCube controller throughout the very popular sales life of the Wii, and though its 16 channel ability means sixteen Wavebirds can coexist in close proximity, that's still too limited for serious tournaments, which are a bastion for wired controllers.
A Special Accessory for the Wii U
That Nintendo is willing to produce special accessories for the Wii U in the name of 'Super Smash Bros.' is very telling. Even if mainly for 'Smash Bros.,' GameCube controller support is something that probably should have been factored into the design of Wii U, but Nintendo seems to have regarded 'Smash Bros.' like money in the bank. If the Wii U version is able to make a November release, that will have been two years after the system's launch. Of course, the Wii U supports Wii backwards compatibility, but players have had to live without their preferred controller method.
With Nintendo unveiling amiibo figure support as well as Mii integration for 'Super Smash Bros.,' it's refreshing to see that the 'Smash Bros.' fans number one request, a GameCube controller workaround of some sort, hasn't been forgotten. Over the past year, the big N seems to have finally caught on to how large and important the 'Smash Bros.' community is, but this isn't the first time Nintendo has done double take in the name of their four player fighter.
Dual-layered 'Super Smash Bros. Brawl'
Back when 'Super Smash Bros. Brawl' released on the Wii, Nintendo had a much less public problem. The Wii was the phenomenal sales sensation that brought in families and casuals, and it was the first of Nintendo's systems to use DVDs for games. Prior to 'Brawl,' Nintendo had insisted in their usual quiet manner that games be restricted to single layer DVDs. This policy was changed when 'Brawl' needed the extra space. The resulting day one firmware update required to make this work was a big problem for many Wii owners unfamiliar with applying firmware updates. The resulting mass of bricked Wiis was an event that would be repeated later when the Wii U launched.
The GameCube Controller Adapters at E3
As for the actual GameCube controller adapters and Super Smash Bros. Edition controllers, one of the last things I managed to squeeze into E3 was some off-floor time playing the Wii U version of 'Smash Bros.' It had been some time since I had really played 'Smash Bros.' (the first month of the Wii U), and the rust was pretty bad, especially against Nintendo employees. The new characters and environmental hazards alone were enough to give me headaches. I even broke a level or two; at one point finding myself under a bridge in a non playable area that lacked collision. Still, I managed to cheap my way to some victories by cherrypicking some items like a Final Smash (Mega Man), nailing opponents with Luma, and keeping Little Mac the heck away from the edge.
Nintendo would love to have 'Super Smash Bros.' ready for the Wii U in time to push Wii U holiday sales this year, but whenever the game is ultimately released, both the GameCube controller adapters and Super Smash Bros. Edition controllers will also be released. Fans should expect shortages on both, but especially on the GameCube controller adapters as every would-be tournament player or "I bought a Wii U for 'Smash'" existing owner will need to have at least one. There may be millions of Wii Us out now and millions of 'Super Smash Bros.' copies on the way, but expect what stock will be produced of the GameCube controller adapter to be primed for the grey market. It's similar to how Microsoft needed to get headset adapters ready for 'Titanfall,' but this a much more fringe item. It may be more like the 3DS Circle Pad Pro, but destined to be more useful and more sought out. Those who expect to play 'Smash Bros.' should order now before the collectors and resellers. Once ordered, there should be plenty of months to ultimately decide on the purchase.
You can find the latest info on 'Super Smash Bros.' linked from our Video Game Release Schedule.
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