|The NES Advantage. Pic taken from 8 Bit Joystick|
The NES is home to many great ports of arcade games, but you don't get the true feel of the original arcade cabinet with just the regular NES controller. Throughout the NES' lifespan many companies released arcade-type joysticks, with Nintendo itself being the first. In 1987 Nintnendo released the NES Advantage joystick, which was pretty advanced for its time. And despite being one of the earlier joysticks for the NES, it's still one of the best today.
The Advantage is laid out just like the controls of an arcade cabinet, with an 8-way 360-degree joystick, oversized A and B buttons, and the SELECT, START, and other buttons lined up beside them. It's a bit big to hold in your hands so you'll want to simply set it on a tabletop or in your lap, which makes it almost like you're playing a real arcade machine. The bottom is weighed down to provide stability and to keep it from moving around. The color scheme matches the NES perfectly, and the angled shape gives it a nice and ergonomic touch. The joystick works very well, and the buttons are pretty responsive. Plus the construction is pretty sturdy and can withstand quite a bit of punishment.
Beyond the standard controller functions, the Advantage has some interesting features. Both the A and B buttons have independent Turbo fire, which can be switched on or off with the push of a button. In addition you can use the little knobs just above each buttonto set the firing rate. The blinking LEDs next to each knob that show the speed of each button is a nice feature as well. This turbo feature is especially useful in overhead shooters like Commando and 1943; switch on the turbo and you'll be mowing down enemies left and right.
In addition, you can plug the Advantage into both controller ports and it features a P1/P2 switch. This allows you to play two-player alternating games like Super Mario Bros with just one Advanatge; just flip the switch to switch between Player 1 and Player 2. Just remember to insert the plug with the white stripe into port #1 to avoid confusion. Naturally this won't work with two-player simultaneous games.
However there is one feature that doesn't work out too well. The Advantage boast at having a slow-motion feature that's toggled by pushing the SLOW button. Nintendo claims this slows the game down to give you another edge. In reality, all it does is pause and unpause the game over and over. While nice in theory, it isn't really useful and gets annoying hearing the game's "pause sound" a hundred times a second.
With its great features and solid construction, the Advantage is an excellent alternative to the standard controller. The Advantage is compatable with just about every NES game, and it's especially great with shooters and most action titles. Although the slo-mo feature isn't all that, the rest of the functions more than make up the difference. It was a very popular controller and pretty common, so you shouldn't have any trouble tracking one down. Overall NES Advantage gets a High Recommendation.
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