Review: Exlene Wired Gamecube Style Controller for Switch (Hardware)
Before I received the controller, I expected it to be mediocre at best. The controller looked cheap to me, and some parts of the Amazon listing made the whole affair seem unprofessional and low-quality. When I received the box, I was even more worried; I wasn't expecting GREAT packaging, but the it was definitely below average. It seems to feature a completely different controller design on it, which struck me as odd. With all of this in mind, maybe it was my low expectations that made me actually like this controller.
Okay, so I think the only reason anyone would want a Gamecube-styled controller is for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. So, how does it feel in-game? In my opinion, it works just fine. It feels surprisingly close to the original in the important aspects, such as the control sticks and face buttons, but some other parts are a little weird. For one thing, the two Z buttons (actually labelled 'LB' and 'RB') are both clicky, almost like a mouse. It's a little off-putting, but I guess it isn't a huge problem. The triggers feel nice to press, but don't have the depth of the original Gamecube controllers, due to the lack of analogue. The D-Pad seems to be raised higher than the original, which I think makes it worse, but in Smash it's not too important. Finally, I feel like the system buttons are placed just a little strangely. It's something you adapt to, but having the '-' button right below the '+' doesn't feel quite right.
The analogue sticks do have a problem though, as decent as they feel. The 'grips' on them appear to be hard plastic rather than rubber, which can get a little uncomfortable after some time. It also makes my thumb more likely to slide off, which is not what I want in the middle of my Smash games. I did get used to it, but the original definitely wins here. Other than the grip itself, though, the sticks feel fine. The motion controls also work like a charm, so you'll have little problem playing games like Splatoon 2 or Breath of the Wild.
Battle of the Gamecube Pads
In this new segment, I'm going to be discussing all three of my Gamecube-style controllers. First up, let's look at a first-party Nintendo Gamecube controller, released in conjunction with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. This is the gold standard, which all replicas should strive to be. It may not have all of the system buttons, nor the motion controls, but for Super Smash Bros, you really can't go wrong. The version released with Smash 4 also has a wonderful emblem, giving it the aesthetic edge. Best of all, there are a huge variety of designs if you're willing to look around on eBay, as well as a ton of custom mods and replacement parts available online. If I had the choice, this would be the one I'd use every time—that is, in Smash. In almost every other game, this controller will drag you down. There's no left Z button, no clickable sticks, and an abysmal D-Pad, as well as other missing essentials. On Switch, this controller is for Smash, and nothing else.
Next up, we're going to have a quick look at the wireless PowerA Gamecube controller, designed specifically for Nintendo Switch. As with the first-party controller, this thing is great in Smash. It has a nice Nintendo Switch logo, and unique to this set of controllers, it has wireless functionality. It also beats out the original for general use, featuring a full suite of buttons for Nintendo Switch, making it perfect for other games such as Splatoon 2, thanks to the built-in motion controls. The D-Pad is also much improved, as it's a much larger and standard D-Pad design. Unfortunately, the triggers have a decent bit of travel, despite not being analogue, and I don't find the darker grey as appealing as the purer white used on these competitors. Oh, and there's no rumble here, in case you're into that.
Finally, the star of this review, we have Exlene's wired Gamecube-style controller, another accessory designed for the Switch. Like the PowerA controller, it has some premium features such as motion controls, and even has the unique ability to work as a headphone jack! Like the original, it's wired, so you'll be tethered to your system whilst playing, but most Smash fans won't mind this detail. It feels pretty close to the original, with a few exceptions both good and bad. As with the last controller, you can use it to play your whole library of Switch games with the added buttons. This one is also the easiest of the bunch to use on your PC, with the USB cable eliminating any need for any adaptor you'd need. Finally, this can actually be used on the PlayStation 3, oddly enough, so uh, bonus points for that?
Overall, I'm always going to pick the original controller for Super Smash Bros. Hell, it has the damned logo on it. Between the Exlene and PowerA controllers though, it's down to how you like to play. They're both better than the classic Gamecube controller for the majority of games, but you have to weigh the value of wireless functionality against the headphone jack and rumble. The wired Exlene controller is cheaper, though, so I think I'd personally choose that.
Overall, it's fine for Smash Bros., and even some other Nintendo Switch games, thanks to the extra buttons and motion controls. It has has the unique headphone jack, allowing you to extend the range of the headset that you'd usually need to plug into the Switch. I feel like it'd make more sense on a more standard controller, but it's neat anyway. I wouldn't recommend it over the original Gamecube controller for Smash, but if you want something that can do fine in Smash and other games, this works as well as any other Gamecube-styled Switch controller, with the added bonus of an audio jack.
+ Feels surprisingly close to the original
+ Works on PC, Switch, and even PS3
+ Unique ability to use headsets through the built-in headphone jack
- Lack of rubberised sticks
- Some buttons feel weird
- D-Pad is somehow worse than the original
out of 10
I'd personally say this is a good-enough alternative for a Gamecube controller. I've been using this to play Smash for a little bit now, and I have to say I haven't missed my original controller too much. There are a few things about it that irk me, but overall, it's a fine product.