Since the heyday of "Super Smash Bros. Melee" for the Nintendo GameCube, the competitive Smash Bros. community has largely favored the GameCube controller for serious play. Even with iterations on future consoles, series publisher Nintendo has made the controller compatible to please those who prefer it.
Because it has remained relevant for so many years, the controller has gained legendary status among both competitive Smash Bros. players and video game fans at large.
Alongside the recent "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" for the company’s Switch console, Nintendo released an adapter that allows users to play the game with the GameCube controller.
To Smash Bros. tournament competitor Gustavo Cervantes, a junior public relations major at the University of Georgia, the GameCube controller is the best one for the latest entry.
“I have been testing out all the different control options, and personally, I’m finding that the GameCube controller at the end of the day ends up winning out,” Cervantes said.
Cervantes attributes his preference for the controller to familiarity.
“Your muscle memory ends up paying off in dividends just because of the fact that everything is mapped the way that it has been for way more than a decade now,” Cervantes said. “It just feels the most natural.”
However, because his acquaintance with the controller is the only reason for his partiality to it, Cervantes doesn’t think it’s inherently supreme for serious Smash Bros. play.
“I’ve been playing with a lot of different video game controllers in the past year... and the truth is, the GameCube controller is actually not really that intuitive,” Cervantes said. “The button layout and the asymmetrical sides of the sticks and the way that the triggers are pressure-sensitive — all this makes the controller not ideal.”
Although sophomore statistics major Eli Lemmond, another tournament player at UGA, also prefers the GameCube controller, he shares Cervantes’ belief it has no qualities that make it objectively optimal for competitive “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.”
“I do use the GameCube controller, but it’s mostly down to personal preference,” Lemmond said. “I used it for the entirety of [“Super Smash Bros. for Wii U”], and it’s just what I’m more comfortable with. You can get by on a Switch Pro Controller, and it works just as well.”
Despite also favoring the GameCube controller for competitive “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,” tournament competitor Charles Tantillo, a junior cognitive science major at UGA, feels the Switch Pro Controller is objectively better for serious play. Like Cervantes and Lemmond, he only ascribes his preference for the GameCube controller to familiarity.
“You could argue that the more recent Nintendo Switch Pro Controllers are better competitively. In addition to having an extra shoulder button, there’s a trigger button and a bumper button on both sides of the controller,” Tantillo said. “It also responds very, very slightly faster, like about 2/16 of a second.”
Tantillo speculates the reason for his controller preference is part of a larger trend within the competitive Smash Bros. community.
“I personally play with a GameCube controller, as do the vast majority of competitive players,” Tantillo said. “However, I think a big part of that is just that’s what people are comfortable with.”
Cervantes believes any controller is viable for competitive “Smash Bros.” if the user is comfortable enough with it.
“At the end of the day, you should play with the controller that you feel the most comfortable with no matter what,” Cervantes said. “I remember there was a guy... who would go to tournaments and compete in [“Super Smash Bros. for Wii U”] with a Wii Remote and a Nunchuck, and the thing is... he was a really good Pikachu [player] who could really hold his own.”