Bringing back the Wavebird
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There are two kinds of people in the world: those who play Super Smash Bros. games as a competitive sport and those who enjoy them as party games meant to be played with friends. If you’re the first type, then you definitely care about things like lag and frame rates, and this post will read as blasphemy to you. But if you’re the second, and you’re looking for a way to make using a 17-year-old controller a little more enjoyable while playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on your Switch in 2018, you probably want 8BitDo’s GBros. adapter.
Announced last month ahead of the launch of Ultimate, the GBros. is a pretty simple adapter that features a GameCube controller input on one end and a Wii controller plug on the other (for use with the wired NES Classic, SNES Classic, and Wii Classic controllers). Plug in your retro controller, turn it on, and you can connect it to a Switch (or a Windows PC) so you can use your favorite wired controllers wirelessly with Nintendo’s newest console.
I used the GBros. over the weekend to play Smash Bros. on my Switch, and it’s great. Setup is simple: switch it to whatever controller mode you’d like to use (S for Switch, X for Windows), press and hold the yellow pairing button to turn it on, and connect it just like you would any other wireless controller. Once connected, it’ll work just like a native Switch controller, minus the two extra triggers. (Cleverly, 8BitDo uses the green Star button and red Heart button on the GBros. to replace the Home and Screenshot buttons that would otherwise be missing from a GameCube controller.)
Once you’re set up, the GBros. just works. Again, I’m sure Smash pros will have complaints about wireless latency on a frame or millisecond level. But for my casual enjoyment, it was a welcome solution to stringing a GameCube controller cord across my living room again, like Nintendo’s official USB adapter would require. Additionally, the GBros. has the added bonus of working with a Switch in handheld and tabletop modes, unlike the USB adapter, which only works with the TV dock. This means I can prop up my Switch on a nightstand and use my trusty GameCube controller from the comfort of my bed.
And while using the GBros. to make a GameCube controller wireless in my living room is mostly a convenience (given my setup), for users with larger spaces who don’t have easy access to their TVs, it’ll be even more useful.
Unfortunately, the GBros. needs disposable batteries to work. According to 8BitDo, the GBros. should get up to 30 hours of play time off of a pair of AA batteries, which I haven’t quite been able to put to the test yet. But in a world of wireless, rechargeable controllers, digging up a pair of AAs feels a bit outdated.
The other issue is the price: at $19.99, a single GBros. costs as much as Nintendo’s wired adapter, which supports up to four controllers at once. That means you’ll be fine if you want to pick up one or two, but if you’re looking to build a full party game setup, it’ll get pricey pretty fast — especially considering that you’ll still need to buy GameCube controllers on top of that (if you don’t already own them).
Also, as one odd quirk — due to how the Switch handles controller inputs, the L and R buttons on the GameCube controller function as Switch L and R buttons, when you’ll actually want them mapped to the ZR and ZL triggers, but that’s nothing a quick trip to the controller settings menu built into Smash Bros won’t fix.
Should you buy it?
If you’re looking to play Smash Bros. mostly for single-player content or if you have a larger living room (and aren’t concerned with wireless performance), then definitely give it a try.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to play with larger groups of friends and you either already have or intend to get a pile of GameCube controllers to go with it, then you’re probably better off with Nintendo’s wired dock. Just make sure that no one accidentally trips over the cords during the match.