How to Connect GameCube Controllers to the Nintendo Switch

Give your old Nintendo controllers a new life

A man holding a Nintendo GameCube controller.


What to Know

  • Adapter: Plug adapter cables into Switch dock > connect controller to adapter > push controller button to sync.
  • Third-party controller: Designed to work with Switch. Can plug in or connect via Bluetooth directly.

This article explains how to use an original Nintendo GameCube controller or a third-party approximation with a Nintendo Switch.

How to Use GameCube Controllers on Switch

Official and third-party GameCube controllers can connect to a Nintendo Switch, but the method can vary depending on the model of the controller.

The Nintendo Switch requires the latest version of its operating system to use GameCube controllers.

Using the GameCube Adapter for Switch

A GameCube controller Switch adapter is the easiest and best way to connect both original controllers that came out with the GameCube, and newer GameCube controller models designed for use on the Wii U.

While original GameCube controllers can be used on the Nintendo Switch, they do lack some controls, such as the Home and Screenshot buttons, that are needed to navigate the Switch operating system. However, you can use a Joy-Con for performing these tasks.

Nintendo has produced its own official GameCube controller Switch adapter and there are also several third-party options that can be easily found in video game stores and on online stores such as Amazon. All versions of the adapter support up to four GameCube controllers at a time.

Four GameCube controllers connected to a Nintendo Switch with an adapter.
Ponkor, inc. 

Once you have a GameCube controller adapter, do the following to connect your controllers.

  1. Turn your TV and Nintendo Switch on and place the console in its dock.

    It’s impossible to connect GameCube controllers to the Switch while it’s in handheld mode.

  2. Plug the two USB cables from the GameCube controller adapter into the two USB ports on the front of the Nintendo Switch dock.

  3. Connect a GameCube controller to the adapter using one of the available ports.

  4. Press any button on the GameCube controller for the Nintendo Switch to recognize it.

  5. You can now use your controller on your Switch as you would any other controller.

Using a Third-Party GameCube Controller for Switch

Several companies have produced their own third-party GameCube controllers that can connect to a Nintendo Switch via Bluetooth or a USB cable. No adapter is needed for these controllers. They can be connected to a Nintendo Switch straight out of the box.

HORI Nintendo Switch Battle Pad (Peach) GameCube Style Controller
HORI, inc. 

HORI’s GameCube controllers are one example of third-party controllers that can be plugged directly into Nintendo Switch consoles via its the USB ports. The GameCube controllers made by Exlene are an example of some that can connect via a USB cable and wirelessly using Bluetooth.

Exlene Wireless Gamecube Controller Switch
Exlene, inc. 

The packaging for all GameCube controllers will usually mention if they use USB or Bluetooth to connect to a Nintendo Switch console. If you no longer have the packaging for the controller, you can also inspect the end of its cable to determine how it connects. If it has a rectangular USB tip, then it can connect to the Switch using one of the console's USB ports. If the connection at the end of the cable is circular, it needs to plug into a GameCube controller adapter.

Which Nintendo Switch Games Use GameCube Controllers?

While original GameCube controllers can be used for playing most video games on the Nintendo Switch, they’re not always recommended due to their lack of buttons that can leave the player unable to perform certain actions.

However, modern GameCube controllers feature all of the buttons needed to properly play Nintendo Switch games, so most gamers shouldn’t have any problem using these at all.

The only Nintendo Switch video games that don’t support old or new GameCube controllers are those that require the Joy-Con controllers, such as Just Dance, Snipperclips, and Fitness Boxing.

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