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Is the GameCube controller essential for Smash’s future?

gamecube controller

The GameCube controller is a treasure to many competitive Smash players. Whether it’s Melee, PM, Smash 4 or even using a GameCube controller adapter for Smash 64, this is clearly a controller that many players hold dear to their hearts. Nintendo shocked many players when they went out of their way to release a GameCube controller adapter for the Wii U version of Smash 4. Additionally, many people customize and personalize their GameCube controllers thanks to services such as Control in Color.

It was even discovered in October that the Wii U’s GameCube controller adapter is now usable on Nintendo Switch. While this was discovered to be a surprise even to developers, this hasn’t stopped competitive Smash players from being excited for GameCube controller support for the inevitable Smash on Switch.

The GameCube controller is very much intertwined with the history and competitive history of the Smash Bros. series. However, this brings up an interesting discussion point. Is the GameCube controller essential for the future of Smash Bros.? Do future games in the series need compatibility with the controller that players have grown so used to since Melee? Let’s talk about it.

Overwhelming Prevalence of GameCube Controllers in Competitive Smash scene

If you go to a Smash tournament, you’re going to see mostly GameCube controllers being used. It’s just an inevitability. Even for the likes of Project M and Smash 4, where those games offer a variety of controller options, most players still decide to use GameCube controllers. So much so that anyone who doesn’t use GameCube controllers are considered to be outliers. People who use the Wii U Pro Controller or the Nintendo 3DS or the Wiimote/Nunchuk combo as controllers for competitive play are few in number at Smash tournaments.

gamecube controller
The GameCube controller: a sight that dominates high-level play. There are many positives and negatives to this legendary controller. Image: Kotaku

This isn’t inherently a bad thing, though. Many players continue to use the GameCube controller in later Smash games merely because of muscle memory. This makes sense. Instead of high-level players having to readjust to different button locations, grips and so on, they can comfortably rely on the controller they’ve used throughout multiple Smash games. On one hand, the consistency of the GameCube controller throughout most of the Smash games makes it easier to interchange between games. If a Melee player wants to get into Smash 4, they don’t have to overcome the barrier of learning a new controller configuration. This makes getting into different Smash games easier for players who are already familiar with other games in the franchise.

It could even be argued that this consistency makes it easier for new players to be introduced to Smash. If a newcomer to the Smash series learns how to play with the GameCube controller, they can arguably have an easier time with getting into any other Smash game of their choosing. The consistency of GameCube controllers makes competitive play more accessible to newcomers.

Issues and LONG-TERM concerns with gamecube controllers

gamecube controller
Aziz “Hax$” Al-Yami suffered an injury from using the GameCube controller. Is this a reason why the Smash community should become more willing to use different controllers? Image: Twitter

On the other hand, though, high-quality GameCube controllers have become a luxury. With many GameCube controllers having been produced over fifteen years ago, many controllers are beginning to show their age and not work properly. This has gone on to inflate the prices of high-quality GameCube controllers. This was briefly rectified with Nintendo selling GameCube controllers to coincide with the release of the Wii U’s GameCube controller adapter, but now even those are starting to climb in price. This escalation in price can make the player base that uses GameCube controllers become more exclusive over time.

Many people don’t want that to happen. As a result, parts of the Smash community have been considering how to go about this issue. The Smash Box and the lesser-known Smash Stick are examples of the community trying to brainstorm alternatives to the GameCube controller. Both of the mentioned examples replicate more traditional arcade fighting game controllers.

 

There are issues surrounding the GameCube controller, which is what makes people, myself included, begin to question the GameCube controller’s longevity. Does it really have a place in future Smash games?

The Question of the Gamecube controller in future smash games

gamecube controller
The Smash Stick is one of a few approaches at an alternative for a competitive Smash controller. Image: YouTube

The Wii U’s GameCube controller adapter was announced less than a month before the Wii U version of Smash 4’s release. Before this, many people were anticipating the Wii U Pro Controller to become the competitive player’s controller of choice for the Wii U version of Smash 4.

If the GameCube controller were to not be an option in a Nintendo Switch installment of Smash Bros., would it be difficult for competitive players to adjust to a new controller? If this were to happen, the likely controller of choice would be the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller (which is an excellently crafted controller, by the way). Would this switch (pardon the pun) of competitively used controllers really make a big difference in the Smash community?

The competitive anticipation of the Wii U version of Smash 4, before the GameCube controller adapter was announced, is a possible indicator that the Smash community would be willing to move on from the GameCube controller if it were no longer an option. While many still hoped for the inclusion of the GameCube controller prior to the adapter’s announcement, there were equally many players that were willing to to use the Wii U Pro Controller for the game.

While GameCube controllers can be used on the Nintendo Switch, they weren’t specifically intended to work on the Switch. This means that there’s no inherent guarantee that the Switch’s inevitable installment of Smash Bros. will allow the use of the GameCube controller.

Where do you stand?

gamecube controller
Is the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller capable of becoming a standard for competitive play? Image: IGN

This is a difficult matter to take a definitive stance on. I think people would ultimately be willing to move on from the GameCube controller to something new, if the GameCube controller wasn’t an option in future games. But what do you think? Do you think future Smash games should ax the GameCube controller, or do you think that all future Smash games need to include GameCube controller support? As always, join the conversation, and let us know!


 

Featured image courtesy of Mashable.

 

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