When we think of emulators we normally imagine some software running in our PCs that we use to play old games with either our keyboard and mouse or a gamepad. Usually an Xbox controller. While that is a great way to enjoy some classics, it doesn’t really give you the real feeling that you used to get when playing those games, if you, like me, used to play those games in their original systems.
That’s why getting some accessories can drastically improve the experience as it will let you play closer to what the actual system was. And the best part is that it may not be as expensive as you imagine.
Arcade Emulation Consoles
Emulating on your PC or laptop can be great, but having the entire package in a single device seems like the dream. Using a full Arcade Console that connects directly to a TV and includes 2 control sticks is one of the greatest ways to play. The benefit of this approach is that you won’t be tied to a PC. No need for all the software management you need to do if you were to use your own computer.
The best part, it’s very affordable. Some single player control sticks alone can go for over $100. These devices will get you the full package from just $150. The only warning is that they could be a bit slow for bigger games, so make sure you check how your favorite games run.
Wii Sensor Bar
The Wii will be remembered for its innovative motion controls. The ability to swing your controller to hit a tennis ball or play bowling is something that was new for that time. That said, the setup required a sensor bar to be attached to either the top or the bottom of the TV.
Modern emulators are able to mimic and emulate the motions provided by the controllers but if you are looking for an experience closer to the original one then you will need a sensor bar that can be used on a PC as well as the Wiimotes.
Luckily, the sensor bar is very affordable, at around USD $10 or CAD $14.
Having a sensor bar connected via USB will let you aim and use the cursor on games just like on the original Wii.
If you are planning to get a Wii Sensor Bar you must use with a Wiimote. Finding used Wiimotes is very easy these days but if you want something brand new we can recommend buying a Wiimote with Wii Motion Plus support.
If you were used to go to the arcades and play some of the classics in the original machines you know that most of those games were designed to be used with a stick. The controls, reaction and combos were all designed for the arcade. Playing with modern gamepads can be sufficient, but experiencing the game using a real stick will always be better.
There are many alternatives when it comes to arcade controllers but only a few will give you at least 2 players and offer a great built quality. Below we are listing the Mayflash F300 which is compatible with pretty much any device and has great reviews, but it’s a single player arcade controller (nothing stops you from buying 2). We also list the Xtension Two Player Control Board specifically made for Emulators. This is a great option if you are ok spending the hefty $399 they ask for it. Sure it’s expensive but it’s a great option.
Xtension Two Player Control Board Emulator Edition
ALSO READ: Best MAME GUIs for PC
Gamecube controller adapter
Playing Super Smash Brothers on the PC, emulating a Gamecube is one of the greatest emulation achievements, only if you are also using the proper controller for it.
This adapter will let you connect up to 4 Game Cube controllers using 2 USB ports. We are listing 2 options as the second one is also compatible with the Switch.
Similar to the Game Cube adapter idea, the Snes adapter will allow you to use older Snes controllers on your PC or device you play on. There are multiple kinds but we recommend the ones that allow you to connect 2 controllers from a single port.
Another option is to purchase retro controllers. These controllers normally made by 8bitdo offer the look and feel from the originals but with added functionality, like multiple platform support and Bluetooth, so you can play wirelessly.
One benefit of going with this approach is how versatile it can be. My NES30 pro controller allows me to even connect it to a Nintendo Switch.
Get one or many accessories
Regardless of where you play your old games, having the proper accessories will definitely improve the emulation experience, especially if you like playing with friends.
For arcade emulators, having an arcade machine is definitely a great option but if you don’t want to take that room space, getting a dual arcade stick controller or a full arcade console that connects to the TV will offer you long fun nights with your friends.