Taking Advantage

I need to make a confession.  I have not used a standard NES controller in probably close to 20 years.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t played my NES in that amount of time.  It’s just that about 20 years ago I decided to buy the NES Advantage, and that’s been plugged into my controller jacks ever since.  Most people associate their NES playing experience with the feel of a non-curved rectangular controller pressed into their hands, but for me, my association is having a 6” x 8” block of grey plastic on my lap.

The NES Advantage looks like a slice cut out of an arcade control panel.  It has a joystick large enough to grasp and two overgrown red buttons.  There are adjustable turbo controls for the A and B buttons, which means you can hold the red circle down, and the controller will do the work for you.  There is also a “Slow” button, which is like repeatedly hitting “Start”, although, I admit, I have yet to find a practical use for this feature.  The whole thing is awkward to hold in comparison to something as compact as the standard issue controller, but that never stopped anyone from going to an arcade.  If you can manage the controls of an arcade game, you can handle the NES Advantage.

Anyone who has attempted the High Jump in Skate or Die will understand why I bought my NES Advantage.  No amount of button mashing ever produced more than a foot in that game for me, but with turbo powers, I can score 7-foot jumps with ease by holding down a single button.  It’s also incredibly useful for side-scrolling fighter games like Double Dragon.  Just walk up to any enemy, hold down that A-button, and watch Billy Lee unleash a string of punches.  (And who can touch him once he has a baseball bat in hand?)  Or think about how freeing it makes shoot ‘em up games.  Line up your aircraft with the onslaught of enemies and watch the bullets fly.  Even classics like The Legend of Zelda are made easier (and heaven knows that any advantage is welcome in that game). No one can say those poor octoroks never saw their death coming, because I flashed my sword in their face more times than a samurai movie.

Now, I understand people may be opposed to turbo controllers because they feel like it’s cheating.  Perhaps, but I like to think of it as being able to rest my wrist from the constant demand of mashing buttons in classic NES games.  (I can save that energy for spinning the control stick in Mario Party.)  I don’t consider it cheating when you have the tools and you have the talent.  It’s more like having the advantage.

Bobby Wehner


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