Nintendo's NES Classic Edition was easily one of the hottest gifts of the holiday season -- which also meant it was one of the hardest things to find. Still, Nintendo sold nearly 200,000 of them, so if you were one of those lucky enough to grab one, congratulations! Now you can experience the joy of 30 classic NES games ... and the despair of one of the system's most crippling flaws.
For as great as the NES Classic is, one of the biggest complaints about the hardware is that the controller cables are extremely short. Sure, we've all gotten used to using wireless gamepads with our video game consoles, but these cables are even shorter than the cords on the original Nintendo Entertainment System in the '80s. This could make playing Mega Man 2 in your living room problematic.
Luckily, it doesn't have to be that way. A couple of accessories from My Arcade might help.
My Arcade Extender Cable (10 ft) -- $9.99
Simple but effective. This cable connects to the included NES Classic Edition controller (or a Wii Class Controller, which you can also use with the system) and adds 10 feet of length to the cable.
Just look how long it is!
There's nothing special about it beyond that, so the $10 price point might seem excessive to some. But when you get tired of cramming together close to the TV because the included controller cords are far too short, you might change your tune.
(Note: Other companies sell extension cables as well, many of them for similar prices. My Arcade just happened to send me this one, so it's what I've personally tried.)
My Arcade Wireless GamePad -- $14.99
Controllers from third party manufacturers (meaning, companies that aren't Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft) can be extremely hit or miss in terms of quality. This one, though, surprised me. It's inexpensive, it's comfortable to hold, it has no discernible lag and it solves the system's cord problem by eliminating the cord altogether. You just pop in a couple of AAA batteries (not included), plug in the wireless controller and you're off.
Rather than being a solid rectangular brick, like Nintendo's classic design, the My Arcade wireless controller has a curved top and a notch on the back of the controller that basically forms two separate places to grip and rest your fingers, more like modern console gamepads (though not as ergonomic). You can also press both the Start and Select buttons on the controller at the same time in order to reset it, so you don't have to worry about getting up and walking to the system itself.
One thing to note for the purists: There's a slightly bigger gap between the A and B buttons on the My Arcade wireless controller. For most people and most games, this won't be a big issue, but if you're the kind of person interested in Super Mario Bros. speedruns, then the thumb feel of trying to run and jump isn't quite the same. For those people, an extension cable is the better option.
One thing I couldn't test: Using two wireless controllers. There are no frequency settings on the receiver or controller, so I don't know if there's any chance for interference when using two as opposed to one.
That aside, I was able to play comfortably from about 15 feet away. When I approached and exceeded the advertised 30 foot range, the controller still worked, but there was just enough noticeable lag that I wouldn't want to play any twitch-heavy games from that distance. Fine for Final Fantasy, bad for Castlevania.
It's dumb that Nintendo's otherwise wonderful retro console is marred by such a simple problem, but at least accessories like these can help solve the problem without breaking the bank.