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Confirmed: The Wii U GameCube Controller Adapter will not work on DDR, Active Life, or Cyberbike

Over the past few months, Nintendo has been a little cagey about whether their GameCube Controller Adapter for Super Smash Bros. would work with other games. For purposes of those of us who use the Wii for exercise, that would open up a whole lot of Wii games for our use–the Dance Dance Revolution series, Active Life series, and Cyberbike games.

For a brief period of time they were hinting that it’d work on everything, but in recent months they’ve been very, very careful to say that it would only work with Super Smash Bros. Still a lot of us had been holding out hope that this was just an exercise in “CYA”–that the adapter would still work on other games but they gave us these disclaimers so they didn’t have to support them if they didn’t.

Yesterday, my some miracle I got my hands on one at the Nintendo Store in New York.

gamecube controller adapter box

Sadly, but not surprisingly, I confirmed that it’s true–for the time being at least, it will NOT work on games other than Wii U games that have a GameCube icon, and right now that just applies to one game: Super Smash Bros for Wii U. Officially, here’s what their manual says:

gamecube adapter manual

This accessory is only for use on the Wii U console with Nintendo GameCube or Nintendo GameCube WaveBird wireless controllers. It cannot be used with any other controllers, accessories, or devices such as computers.

You must use Wii U software that supports Nintendo GameCube controllers or the WaveBird wireless controller. Look for this icon on game packaging for games that are designed to be used with this accessory. This accessory is not compatible with Wii software.

So unlike other “adapters” like the one you use to convert, say, HDMI to DVI or USB to Ethernet, it looks like the GameCube adapter isn’t capable of having a simple adapter that just plugs and plays. Support for it needs to be written into the software.

Here’s specifically how I went about testing:

First, the adapter itself looks like it’s really well made. It feels solid and is black with an embossed Wii U logo. On one side are four GameCube controller ports, while the other side consists of two USB plugs, one grey and one black. The additional plug is needed the enable things that need extra power like rumble and WaveBird wireless ability.

wii u gamecube controller adapter

You start by plugging the USB plugs into the Wii U.

gamecube adapter USB plugs

One thing I found interesting was that if you have two GameCube adapters, you can actually plug one of them into the two USB ports in back and the other into the two USB ports in front, and you’ll support up to 8 players for games that support that (which, again, is only Super Smash Bros. for Wii U right now). Of course, that’ll use up all your USB ports, but there is a line in the manual saying that “A standard powered USB hub may be used if there are not enough open USB ports on the Wii U console.” It also points you to their site for more information.

Then, you plug your GameCube controllers into the other end.

gamecube adapter with plugs

I put the Wii U into Wii mode and tested it with Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2. As expected, there was no response at all when I tried to use the DDR dance pad.

I then tested it with Active Life: Outdoor Challenge. Again, no response at all, just this message:

gamecube controller does not work with active life

And again with Cyberbike. Again, just a greyed out controller.

gamecube adapter doesn't work with cyberbike

Now, it’s obvious by now that they simply didn’t touch the Wii emulation portion of the Wii U system to support this device. It’s a shame, because from a technical point of view it really wouldn’t be that difficult (heck, just a few days after the product was released, some enterprising hackers figured out how to get it to work on PCs). But I’m guessing that the executives at Nintendo didn’t want their customer service department fielding support calls for 20 year-old games and decided to keep support disabled.

What’s ironic is that, judging by the masses of people clamoring to get their hands on one of these (heck, they’re being resold on eBay and Amazon for over $100), Nintendo would have a money-printing machine if they managed to produce enough of them AND build reasons for users to keep using them. As much as building Wii emulation helped Wii users adopt the Wii U, I have to think building support for the GameCube controller into Wii Mode and Virtual Console games would also help win over a good chunk of the 21 million GameCube owners out there.

For my final test, I attempted to use my Cyberbike with Mario Kart 8, a Wii U game. But because Mario Kart didn’t build support for the GameCube controller, this didn’t work either (if you look at the back of the Mario Kart 8 box, you’ll see it supports every other controller out there–the GamePad, the Wii Remote, the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, the Wii Classic Controller, and the Wii U Pro Controller. One can only hope that some day, they’ll release a patch that enables it to support the GameCube Controller.

For a lark, I started up Super Smash Bros and plugged in my DDR dance pad. And there the pad “worked” perfectly–I could use my feet to select menu options by using the directional buttons, and selecting things using the “A” button with my feet–with no lag and amazingly quick and precise responsiveness. Now before you get too excited, remember that the players in the game are controlled by the joystick, so even though Smash Bros allows you to customize your controllers to a certain extent, you can’t map the directional buttons to control your character. Still, it was a small victory seeing that the controllers at least “worked”.

We can only hope Nintendo will get the hint from the huge demand for the GameCube controller and release a patch that’ll allow us to use any GameCube controllers in Wii Mode, and that they’ll release or retrofit new and existing Wii U games like Mario Kart 8 to support the controller.

In the meantime, if you’ve been thinking of buying this adapter in hopes that it’d work with some games other than Super Smash Bros for Wii U, I can tell you unequivocally that it’s not worth it. As for those who do want to use it with Super Smash Bros, I know there have been a lot of rumors lately out of the UK that Nintendo will not be making more of them. This is absolutely untrue–Nintendo is definitely making more of them and everyone who wants one will eventually be able to get one at $19.99…some say by Christmas, others day definitely by February. So unless you absolutely, positively need one before Christmas, I’d resist the urge to go to Amazon or eBay where they’re currently selling for over $100.

 

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