When it comes to retro gaming you can’t beat playing on the original system and I’d favor it over emulation any day.That’s not to say I’m not an emulation fan of course, quite the contrary I use them a lot and relish the advantages that emulation brings….like turbo loading for instance!
But the thing about emulation is, although it can look and sound, in some circumstances, pretty much indistinguishable from the original system, I often find something is missed from the experience by not using the original games controller. Stella is awesome Atari 2600 emulator but playing Berzerk on a PC keyboard instead of a classic Atari joystick doesn’t feel quite right. Mario Kart via ZSnes using a PS2 styled PC controller is o.k but give me a proper SNES pad and I’m a happy chap. Then of course, there are the oddballs controllers like the analogue Vectrex pad, Atari paddles and the N64 joystick/gamepad ‘thing’ which might be a little tricky to replace with modern pads and sticks.
Adapters, that’s what we need and there are many of them out there allowing one to attach a classic controller to a PC or modern games console.
I came across this particular adaptor on eBay the other day. It’s very cheap, small and promised support for Sega Megadrive/Genesis controllers (and thus hopefully other standard DB9 based sticks and pads), Nintendo NES and SNES controllers in one tidy package. Buy buy buy says I.
….a few days later.
The little adapter box has two input ports, the first is a 9-pin DB9 type connector and the other is a 7-pin SNES connector. Also included was a DB9 to 7-pin converter cable for connecting NES/FC pads.
No drivers are required according to the instructions and it states it’s compatible with Win XP thru to Win 8 including both 32 and 64 bit flavors.
Sure enough, after plugging it into my Win 7 netbook, the device was detected and appeared as a standard HID game controller.
I’ve dug out a selection of classic controllers to test.
It started off well – the SNES pad worked flawlessly with no lag or any issues detected when multiple buttons were pressed simultaneously and after a round or two with Street Fighter 2Turbo and Super R-Type (where the adapters programmable turbo button came in handy) I moved on…..and well, it’s all went a bit downhill from there.
I couldn’t get it to work with my Megadrive mk2 pad, third party or original mk1 pad. No go either with the classic Atari stick, Commodore Vic-20 stick, Commodore CD32 pad or Sega Master System pad. I haven’t tested it with my NES pad though as they’re still packed away. No keystrokes detected with MS notepad open therefore Joy2Key is out too.
I’ve tested the device on another Win 7 PC (SP1), a Win XP PC and my Raspberry Pi. Each time, nothing worked apart from the SNES pad (I had to fiddle around to get it working on my Raspberry Pi).
I’ve removed the adaptors case screws to have a looksee inside and as far as I can tell everything looks o.k. When I get time I’ll have a probe around with the multimeter.
Although it’s a cheap adaptor, for sole use as a SNES adaptor it’s still more expensive than getting a dedicated SNES ‘styled’ USB gamepad (although I guess that defeats the object of using an original controller) and probably more expensive than getting the pats to USB mod a pad yourself. In the end I decided to contact the seller and ask if I could return it for a refund. As it happens, the seller had tested a few adapters himself and found that he was having the same issues too. As a result he kindly gave me a full refund and told me to keep the adaptor anyway. A win in the end then!