NWR tried out the the 3-in-1 Retro Adapter on the show floor. Is the controller adapter a Virtual Console godsend? Not quite….
Innex was showing off their 3-in-1 Virtual Retro Adapter on the show floor, and Jared Rosenberg and I swung by to get some hands-on time with the peripheral.
The product looks sleek enough and doesn’t feel cheap. The square box slightly resembles an N64 and feels very sturdy. A short cable juts out from one side that plugs into an open GameCube port; the other three sides feature the NES, SNES, and N64 controller ports. You must toggle a small switch to change between NES/SNES and N64 mode, but it also felt well-built.
To demonstrate their product they had a Wii boasting a sampling of Virtual Console games. The button mappings worked as expected for the NES and SNES—including shoulder buttons, start, and select. However, due to a poor design decision, the N64 implementation is a bit lacking. The Kombo 3-in-1 maps the buttons as precisely as possible…to a fault. While mapping L (GC) to L (N64) and Z (GC) to Z (N64) sounds perfectly logical on paper, anyone who uses the peripheral will find that it is terrible for the vast majority of N64 games on Virtual Console, since N64 button mappings on VC are often tweaked to accommodate the Classic Controller. This includes the N64 game Innex displayed: Mario Kart 64. Instead of using Z on the N64 controller, you must use C-down, ruining what should be an authentic experience for N64 games. There is no way to customize the button mapping.
I also have some concern over potential lag in the interface. I am not terribly sensitive to lag in video games, but there was a fairly noticeable delay between when I pressed the jump button and when Mario jumped. Both Jared and I had trouble playing Super Mario World, falling off cliffs and the like. The setup Innex used is very suspect: they were using a composite video connection on what looked like a budget LCD television. I went back and forth in Super Mario Bros. 3 between the NES and Wii Remote, and there was similar (too difficult to say identical) lag using both.
While the N64 controller button mapping problem is disappointing, the peripheral looks promising for NES and SNES games, and hopefully the input lag is a non-issue. There’s no way to tell for sure without testing one out at home.