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You have to respect the classics. Along with the Smash Ball logo and Master Hand, the GameCube controller is one of the most iconic and recognizable parts of the Super Smash Bros. franchise. This controller made its debut with Super Smash Bros. Melee in 2001, and once hardcore fans got this controller in their hands, they never let go. The same way a good fighting stick fits perfectly with games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Tekken, the GameCube controller feels like it was designed specifically with Smash Bros. in mind. The thick shoulder buttons are perfect for shielding and rolling, and it feels easy to slide your finger over to the lone Z-trigger for a quick grab. The large A button makes neutral attacks and Smash attacks feel like the focus of a moveset, while the surrounding jump buttons and special moves just feel right. Finally, there’s nothing quite like eliminating someone with a perfectly timed C-stick Smash attack.
The design of the GameCube controller fits Super Smash Bros. like a glove, and Nintendo knows that many fans won't play Smash any other way. The Switch doesn’t have any GameCube controller ports, so Nintendo released a GameCube controller-to-USB adapter that plugs into the side of the Switch dock. The official Nintendo model is a bit hard to come by, but there are plenty of third-party options that get the job done.
Despite being an all-time classic and fitting the game perfectly, the original GameCube controller isn’t without its flaws. First of all, the GameCube pad lacks a few buttons that can be found on modern Switch controllers, most notably the home button and share button. This can make it a little bit cumbersome to take screenshots or back out of the game when using the GameCube controller, but this is only a minor annoyance. Playing with the GameCube controller undocked is also difficult, as you’ll need an additional wireless adapter or a USB-C adapter to plug your GameCube port hub into. But, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever need to use a GameCube controller in handheld mode. However, if you’re willing to jump through these hoops, the GameCube controller is hands-down the best controller for Smash.
Great color schemes
Full suite of buttons
Buttons are clicky
Stick tension is too low
The first of many GameCube imitations on this list, the PDP Wired Fight Pad is cheaper than an official GameCube controller and has a few notable differences. The handles are slightly longer on the PDP gamepad, a welcome feature if you have larger hands. This line of controllers also includes all of the buttons missing from the standard GameCube controller, which makes sharing and backing out to the home menu far more streamlined.
A feature unique to the PDP Wired Fight Pad Pro is its swappable C-stick. Each controller comes with a standard, yellow GameCube C-stick and a duplicate of the gray control stick, which easily snap on and off of the right analog stick slot on the controller. If you want a more traditional GameCube experience, you can go with the yellow nub, or you can snap the gray stick on if you need something a bit larger.
Nintendo fans will likely gravitate towards the Fight Pad Pro thanks to its many character-themed color varieties. You can get a controller inspired by Mario, Link, Sonic, and Pikachu, just to name a few. The color of the controller and the logo on the front reflect your character of choice, making the Fight Pad Pro the most expressive controller for Smash Bros.
The themed controllers are a fun way to express your love for Smash and Nintendo, even if the controller itself doesn’t feel as great as the GameCube pad it’s trying to replicate. The face buttons are a bit too clicky, the stick tension is a bit too low, and the shoulder buttons don’t give the best feedback. But, if price point and customization are important to you, the PDP Wired Fight Pad Pro is the best way to go.
Feels great in the hands
Amiibo functionality, motion controls
Layout not best suited for Smash
Nintendo’s official Switch Pro Controller is a fantastic gamepad for almost every game on Switch, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is no exception. The button layout is pretty different from the GameCube setup you may be used to, but the ability to completely customize your button commands through Smash Ultimate’s settings menu will give you the flexibility to create a setup that works for you.
The Switch Pro Controller is extremely comfortable, and button-mashers should appreciate the large face buttons that make it difficult to mess up your move inputs. From a quality of life perspective, the Switch Pro’s long battery life is a huge plus, and the wireless connection will please gamers playing on their Switch Lites. For Smash players who also enjoy other games on Switch, motion controls can enhance the experience across a variety of other Switch titles. Finally, amiibo support rounds out the suite of features, which is crucial for putting all those adorable Nintendo figures to use.
Wireless capability adds flexibility
Shoulder buttons feel great
Uses AA batteries
Few color options
PowerA’s GameCube-inspired controller modernizes the functionality of the classic GameCube controller by adding in more shoulder buttons and a larger D-pad. Like the Fight Pad Pro, the PowerA controller adds a home button and a share button, but, unlike PDP’s wired option, the PowerA Wireless controller also includes Bluetooth, which means Smash Bros. fans with Switch Lites can easily hook up this controller wirelessly and jump into the action. The PowerA option also has motion controls and comes with two AA batteries. The analog shoulder buttons give the controller a similar feel to the GameCube controller, which makes shielding in Smash Bros. feel more natural.
If you’re into Pokemon, you’ll love the color options that showcase characters like Pikachu, Umbreon, and Espeon. If Pokemon isn’t your thing, you’ll have to settle for a more basic color scheme. The wireless nature of this PowerA controller is its most appealing quality, and the layout perfectly captures the essence of the classic GameCube layout without sacrificing modern conveniences like motion controls and a full set of buttons.
Cable disconnects for easy storage
Lacks motion controls
As you might expect, the PowerA Wired GameCube Controller is almost identical to the PowerA Wireless gamepad, the biggest difference being the wired connection. At about half the price of the wireless option, the build quality isn’t quite as sturdy as you may want it to be. Additionally, you also lose the motion control functionality found in the wireless PowerA controller. However, since Smash Ultimate doesn’t utilize any motion controls, you may not mind if you’re looking for a controller specifically for Smash Bros. Also, you don’t have to worry about having AA batteries on hand for the wired controller.
This wired controller comes with a detachable 10 foot USB cable for easy storage and travel when not in use. While this is definitely one of the cheaper options out there, you may not want to rely on it as your primary Smash controller. But, if you need a couple extra controllers for Smash Bros. nights with your buddies, this is a great budget option to consider.
Great for handheld mode
Playing with sideways Joy-Con feels bad
Small form-factor won’t be for everyone
The official Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons are easily the most convenient option for playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the go. Smash is surprisingly comfortable to play in handheld mode, with quick, twitchy movements working well on the Joy-Con’s smaller control sticks. You can separate the two Joy-Cons for easy multiplayer, but we only recommend doing that if there are no other controllers available to you. The lengthy battery life will let you play Smash for hours on end without having to worry about plugging in for a charge. Plus, Joy-Con’s amiibo compatibility makes it easy to train up your Smash Bros. amiibo fighters.