If you play video games, you probably have a lot of controllers. It’s just part of the deal: Every console you buy, there’s at least one new controller to try, if not more (looking at you, Nintendo). You might even have a favorite controller of the bunch, but don’t use it as much as you’d like because it doesn’t work with your other consoles. Here’s the thing, though: It probably does.
Controllers have changed a lot over the years
In the past, controllers were pretty much proprietary (ignoring some key distinctions). Think about the connectors at the end of your PS2, GameCube, or OG Xbox controllers, for example. Each was unique to the console, and there was no fitting the PS2’s flat connector into the GameCube’s round ports, or vice versa.
But times change, and controllers these days are mostly wireless. That makes it particularly easy to connect a Switch Pro Controller or PS5 controller to your Mac or PC: If you look up how to put your controller into pairing mode, you can connect via Bluetooth like any other wireless device.
But it isn’t the same story on consoles. You can’t put a PS5 controller into pairing mode and connect to your Switch. It’s like we’re back to the flat vs. round connectors, making it seem like you can’t just mix and match controllers to your heart’s content.
Wireless adapters are the great controller equalizer
But all you need to make this possible is a wireless adapter. You plug one of these adapters into your consoles and connect the controller to it. Your console can communicate with it and accept its inputs as it would a proprietary controller.
What got me thinking about these adapters this morning was this story from IGN, highlighting a new adapter from 8BitDo. This company makes a host of interesting and useful video game accessories, and their wireless adapters are no exception. This time around, 8BitDo is releasing an adapter for the PS1 and PS2, that looks like it could be an official Sony peripheral from the time. Plug the adapter into your retro PlayStation, and you can use virtually any wireless controller you want. You can play your PlayStation from the 90s with your PS5 controller. So cool.
But it’s not limited to PS1 and PS2, either. While the proprietary port won’t plug into any other consoles or devices, the USB-C port makes it a handy adapter for connecting your wireless controller to your Windows PC. Sure, your PS5 is easy to connect, but older controllers might not be.
8BitDo makes other adapters, too, if you won’t get much use out of the retro PlayStation compatibility. They make similar adapters for NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis and Master Drive. (Imagine playing Super Mario Bros. on a NES with a Switch Pro controller.) This general USB adapter works on Switch, PC, Mac, Steam Deck, and Raspberry Pi, making it a great emulation tool. In a reverse case, you can use this adapter to play Switch games with classic wired Nintendo controllers, from the GameCube to the NES.
8BitDo is far from the only company making these adapters, too. A quick search on Amazon returns results for plenty of options. But what I like about 8BitDo is their attention to detail: If you’re going to connect a peripheral to your console, it makes it even better to have it look official.
Pick up whichever adapter best matches your play style and needs:
- PS1/PS2 adapter
- USB adapter
- NES adapter
- SNES adapter
- Sega Genesis and Mega Drive adapter
- Classic Nintendo controller adapter