Nintendo Switch SNES controller vs. Nintendo Switch Gamecube controller

Gaming & Accessories

If you’re going to be playing some of the classics, or if you want to have fun and use a retro controller to play games, the two best options right now are the SNES and Gamecube controllers.

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The best controller for Nintendo Switch: SNES or Gamecube?

The Nintendo Switch is compatible with many different controllers, even cross-platform Xbox or Playstation controllers. But if you’re going to be playing some of the classics, or if you want to have fun and use a retro controller to play games, the two best options right now are the SNES and Gamecube controllers. 

Critics and players have touted the Gamecube controller’s design as the best Nintendo ever created due to its ergonomic design, perfect for Smash Bros. and Zelda. But Nintendo recently launched a massive online library of SNES games on the Switch, available for a subscription, meaning you’ll be able to play over 100 classic games with online multiplayer.

Nintendo Switch SNES controller

Nintendo Switch SNES controller

The controller’s build quality and the nostalgia factor are exceptional. Nearly identical to the classic version, the SNES online controller from Nintendo is wireless and easily syncs up to the Nintendo Switch. With a Nintendo Switch online subscription, you’ll have access to the SNES service and play original titles like:

  • Super Metroid
  • Star Fox
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • F-zero
  • Kirby’s Dreamland 3
  • Zelda: A Link To The Past

The SNES online’s directional pad is responsive, and the button layout set the stage for modern controllers. It’s only useful for playing older games that don’t use thumbsticks, but it can play some titles on Switch outside the SNES service like Super Mario Maker 2, Sonic Mania, Final Fantasy VII, Mega Man and Undertale. It breezes through platformers and any other kind of 2D game. The large flat buttons hardly ever stick or break, but sometimes they don’t feel responsive.

SNES controller pros

SNES controllers hardly ever break. Their plastic is thick and the design is simple and durable because it is so flat. It’s curvy and smooth to the touch, lightweight, and the buttons are placed in easy to reach areas for your thumbs. The best design feature has always been the D-pad, though, because its larger and clicker sensation when pressed. Beyond all of that, it’s the gold standard controller for 16-bit era games.

SNES controller cons

One of the issues with SNES controllers has always been their tendency to get dirty. The grey color scheme is great, but it shows grime easily, especially if you don’t wipe them down after they’ve been held in sweaty palms. Besides that, it is a basic controller without much use outside retro games. The lack of different controls meant that game design was also fairly minimalistic. 

Nintendo Switch Gamecube controller

Nintendo Switch Gamecube controller

The Gamecube controller is compatible with a large number of Nintendo games, even modern ones that it wasn’t made for. It’s managed to stick around and stand the test of time, as well as be a general favorite in the competitive scene of Smash Bros. It did that with its design alone. The large A button and secondary B button work perfectly for titles that follow Nintendo’s patterns of games featuring a main ability and a secondary ability working around it. The controller will work for the Switch, but you need an adapter to get it connected because it’s wired.

Gamecube controller pros

The Gamecube controller is very good for Smash Bros. Because it has octagonal stick gates, meaning that it’s easier to know which direction you’re pointing. The two joysticks don’t drift easily, and the triggers and bumpers fit easily in players’ fingers. With nearly every button having a unique shape and color, it is simple to differentiate controls and learn. The different shapes make it easier to tell which button you’re pressing without looking at the controller.

Gamecube controller cons

It’s bad for certain genres. You definitely can’t play this with many shooters apart from Metroid. It also feels small and suited for the hands of a child, which is Nintendo’s targeted market. Its design is unique but not versatile. It has several shoulder buttons on each side, two completely different joysticks and the buttons are clustered together awkwardly. Also, the thumbsticks are short, leaving only a small margin of error for inputs.

Should you get the SNES or Gamecube controller for Switch?

Get the SNES controller for retro games, especially to take advantage of the new SNES online service. It was designed to play them and it makes you feel like you’re back in the nineties and your mom got dominos and rented a SNES from Blockbuster for you to play with your friends. The nostalgia factor is almost as nice as the joy of playing Nintendo classics. 

For action games like Super Smash Bros. the Gamecube controller is the right choice because of its design. Especially if you grew up playing Smash Bros. Brawl on the Gamecube, this controller is best for muscle memory and taking advantage of in-game glitches and exploits. Its short and resistant c-stick is easy to flick, letting characters in smash fire off attacks quickly instead of having to hit the A button. You’ll also have to buy an adapter just to use it with the Switch.

CLOUDREAM Adapter for Gamecube Controller

Get the SNES controller unless you’re interested in playing games like Smash or other Gamecube games. Picking one or the other, the SNES has more value because there’s access to more games. If you get a Gamecube controller, you’ll get the optimal controller for a few games, and it will only really give you an advantage in Smash if you played with the controller back when the game first came out.


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Sam Bramlett writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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