Nintendo Switch Online is now live. In addition to putting online play for some Switch games behind a paywall, the service will add cloud saves (finally), a voice chat app and a collection of updated NES games available exclusively to subscribers.
In addition to the exclusive games, Nintendo announced during the most recent Nintendo Direct presentation that it would be releasing NES-style wireless controllers. The NES controllers will only be compatible with the NES games included with Switch Online membership, and will only be available to Switch Online members (which presumably means you’ll have to order them directly from Nintendo).
Even if you do sign up for Switch Online, only one pair of controllers will be released per plan, including family plans. If you’ve teamed up with your family (or friends — Nintendo confirmed that Switch Online family plan members don’t need to be related or even live at the same address to share a subscription) to save on a membership, you’ll need to duke it out over who gets the controllers.
However, if you want to play non-NES games with an NES controller or aren’t planning on signing up for Nintendo Online, there are still ways to connect a retro controller to your Switch.
Retro-style Bluetooth controllers
8BitDo makes some of the best wireless retro-style controllers around, though it discontinued the model that most closely resembles the NES controller, the NES30. It’s not too hard to find from resellers, though a better option might be the updated NES30 Pro. This gamepad ditches the hard edges of the NES controller but keeps the color scheme and button configuration (plus, like most modern replicas, it adds shoulder triggers and two extra face buttons). The NES30 Pro is available for $34.99 from Amazon.
Modded NES controllers
If you’ve got some old NES controllers lying around, 8BitDo also makes a DIY kit to help you mod them, no soldering required. 8BitDo claims that the kit makes it as simple as possible to add wireless capabilities and a rechargeable battery to an old NES controller. The 8BitDo mod kit retails for $19.99, and original NES controllers frequently go for less than $10 on eBay, which means you can build a Switch-compatible NES controller for around $30.
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