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How to get Switch-compatible NES controllers without Nintendo Switch Online

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It’s not a perfect solution, but it’ll do the trick

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A modified NES controller working with the Nintendo Switch 8BitDo

Nintendo Switch Online is now live. In addition to putting online play for some Switch games behind a paywall, the service will add cloud saves (finally), a voice chat app and a collection of updated NES games available exclusively to subscribers.

In addition to the exclusive games, Nintendo announced during the most recent Nintendo Direct presentation that it would be releasing NES-style wireless controllers. The NES controllers will only be compatible with the NES games included with Switch Online membership, and will only be available to Switch Online members (which presumably means you’ll have to order them directly from Nintendo). Each Nintendo account with a Switch Online membership can purchase one set of controllers.

However, if you want to play non-NES games with an NES controller or aren’t planning on signing up for Nintendo Online, there are still ways to connect a retro controller to your Switch.

Retro-style Bluetooth controllers

The NES30 Pro wireless controller from 8BitDo. 8BitDo

8BitDo makes some of the best wireless retro-style controllers around, though it discontinued the model that most closely resembles the NES controller, the NES30. It’s not too hard to find from resellers, though a better option might be the updated NES30 Pro. This gamepad ditches the hard edges of the NES controller but keeps the color scheme and button configuration (plus, like most modern replicas, it adds shoulder triggers and two extra face buttons). The NES30 Pro is available for $34.99 from Amazon.

Modded NES controllers

8BitDo’s mod kit for NES controllers. 8BitDo

If you’ve got some old NES controllers lying around, 8BitDo also makes a DIY kit to help you mod them, no soldering required. 8BitDo claims that the kit makes it as simple as possible to add wireless capabilities and a rechargeable battery to an old NES controller. The 8BitDo mod kit retails for $19.99, and original NES controllers frequently go for less than $10 on eBay, which means you can build a Switch-compatible NES controller for around $30.

Update: Nintendo changed the language about the NES controllers to one set per Nintendo account, rather than one per Nintendo Online plan. We’ve updated this article accordingly.