Peripheral Vision: Super Famicom vs North American Super Nintendo Controller

After many years of wanting one, I recently purchased a Super Famicom controller. I always preferred the different colored buttons over the bland lavender and purple of the North American Super Nintendo controller. It’s sad that I feel the need to note that it’s the North American version as the European Super Nintendo has the same name, but the controller and console are identical to their Japanese counterparts. So what exactly are the differences between the North American Super Nintendo controller and the Super Famicom controller?

Most notably are the aforementioned action buttons being much more colorful in the Super Famicom controller. The buttons are also all convex, instead of two convex and two concave. After using the Super Famicom controller for a while I really don’t see why Nintendo of America thought they needed to change the buttons in this way, but they did. With the action button layout I don’t see how anyone could confuse any of the buttons for one another, but maybe that’s just me.

There is a bit of a drawback though as the cable on the Super Famicom controllers are significantly shorter than the North American controllers. I don’t personally have a problem with this, as I’m usually never sitting far enough away from my Super Nintendo for this to be a problem. Since the boards for the controllers are practically identical it wouldn’t be an issue swapping them out with a North American SNES controller board to have that longer cable, with the outer shell of the Super Famicom controller. This actually makes me want to acquire a European Super Nintendo controller, but I’ve read they won’t work directly with NA or Japanese consoles without a slight modification.

Other than the shorter cable, which is actually quite easy to remedy should that really be a problem, the Super Famicom controller is essentially the exact same as the NA Super Nintendo controller, just with a more colorful personality. There really is some kind of interesting draw to the Super Famicom controller. Maybe because it’s not what we grew up with, or maybe it all boils down to the colorful buttons. The more I think about it the more frustrated I become wondering what was going through their heads at Nintendo of America when they thought a bland purple color scheme was what we needed, or wanted in North America and everywhere else this console sold. Third-party controller makers tried to bring a facsimile to the market with their cheap controller alternatives, but nothing ever truly matched up to the quality of the original Nintendo controller. Nothing that is until you purchase yourself a genuine Super Famicom controller.

Posted August 2nd, 2021

About the author

Samuel Floyd first fell into video gaming with the Atari the mid-90s! Always late into the system wars, Samuel enjoys that as he acquires them when they're cheap and the hot titles of yesteryear are bountiful. Samuel loves RPGs, his favorite being Crystalis for the NES.


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