The import Hori GameCube controller is a dream come true for fans of the Super Nintendo.
Nintendo's Game Boy Player peripheral for GameCube does such a good job of bringing the handheld's games to the TV screen, gamers could almost believe that they're playing the Super Nintendo back in its glory days . . . except for the controller. While the stock GameCube pad is plenty comfortable, its D-pad is a little small and out of the way, and the analog stick doesn't feel quite right for the twitch control of 2D action games. Luckily, accessory maker Hori has come to the rescue with its GameCube Digital Controller, made specifically to be used with the GB Player.
Hori aimed to have the design of this pad resemble the SNES controller as closely as possible, and the efforts really paid off. The highest compliment I can pay this pad is that if not for the Hori logo, you'd think you were playing with a first-party Nintendo product. The quality of the controller is that good.
Here's a comparison shot:
The Hori GameCube pad not only looks like the spitting image of an SNES controller - it plays every bit as good as one.
The size, shape, and layout of the controllers are identical, and the similarities go right down to the texture and appearance of the D-pad. The L & R shoulder triggers feel just like the SNES's and are in the same places. The only difference is that the Hori pad retains the configuration of the GameCube face buttons, and also moves the Cube's Z-trigger from the right shoulder to the middle of the controller face. The Z-trigger almost feels better there than it did where Nintendo put it!
At first glance, I thought that maybe Hori should have gone with traditional SNES-style A, B, X and Y face buttons in a cross configuration. But after putting in some playtime with Metroid: Zero Mission and Super Mario Advance, it feels just fine. And this way the pad works well with many Cube games too (like Soul Calibur II), beyond just the GB Player. People used to playing directly on the GameBoy Advance will adjust to the bigger A and smaller B button in no time.
The other departure from the SNES design is the contoured bottom surface of the controller:
The Hori pad has slightly thicker "handles" on either side that make it a tad more comfortable than its SNES counterpart.
The width of the plastic flares out a bit on the edges of the underside, which gives the Hori pad more grip than the SNES's flat surface provided. It's a subtle change but a welcome one; I found it to be more comfortable. The handle bumps are unobtrusive and don't feel as big as they might look in the picture above.
Overall, this is a fantastic job of replicating the SNES pad for the GameCube, and Hori even went the extra mile to improve it in little ways. Though this gamepad is an import-only product and therefore a little more expensive than your average third-party controller, it's well worth the $20 or so that it runs online or at your neighborhood import shop. Highly recommended for fans of the Game Boy Advance - and for those who dream of an SNES 2!
· · · Ted Boyke