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How to use GameCube controllers on PC and the Switch

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

Even after the Gamecube finished it´s run and the Wii took over as Nintendo´s home console, it´s signature controller remained a very popular, and nostalgic, way to play games.

For people who grew up with Nintendo, or who played Super Smash Bros Melee exclusively, it remains one of the best controllers to date. Playing Smash without having it in your hands can feel wrong to many players.

Unfortunately, the GameCube controller as we know it is no longer being made. It ceased production along with the Gamecube itself. So, if you want to relive the glory days of playing Smash on your Switch Ultimate on your Switch, or maybe even the original Melee on PC with an emulator, what can you do?

How can you play with a Gamecube Controller if they are no longer being sold?

Well, there are several alternatives. For starters, you could buy a third-party controller made replicate a real Gamecube gamepad.

Alternatively, you could buy one of the Nintendo re-releases of the controller. Or, if you have your old gamepad lying around, you can play with it on your PC and Switch if you have an adapter.

We´ll guide you through each alternative, starting with...

Third-Party Gamecube Controllers

While Nintendo no longer manufactures the original Gamecube controller, it´s popularity is not lost on the market.

Several third-party companies have picked up the slack and made their own version of Nintendo´s controller. These imitations are not 100% faithful to the original ( as that would be illegal) but they still do the job right.

These controllers work both on the Switch and with your computer. Depending on the model, they work wireless or wired. The wired versions are usually the easiest to use, as all you have to do is plug them in and play to your heart's content.

The wireless variants are more complicated. They re usually connected via Bluetooth, so they will not work with non-Bluetooth computers (unless you have a dongle like this one).

Most of these controllers are technically modded Pro Controllers, or at least that´s what your Switch and PC will detect them as. Connecting them to a PC might seem tricky, but if you follow our handy flowchart here, you will be able to do it without issue.

Now, let´s break down the available controller one by one:

We already reviewed this controller in-depth here.

  • It can be connected to your PC and Switch with a cable.

  • It is comfortable and easy to use.

  • It doesn´t have rumble, gyro, nor any other "advanced" feature.

  • It´s a bit fragile.

  • It is a lot like the previous controller, but without a cable.

  • It connects to your Switch and PC via Bluetooth.

  • Uses 2 AA batteries for 30 hours of gameplay.

  • It doesn´t come with rumble, but it does have motion controls.

  • It´s a wired controller, connected via USB cable.

  • It comes in a variety of themes (Mario, Zelda, Pikachu)

  • It doesn´t have rumble or motion controls.

  • It has inverted triggers that are more responsive than those of its competition (mostly).

  • It connects to your Switch and PC via Bluetooth or with a USB cable.

  • It has motion controls, rumble, and a "turbo" mode.

  • It comes with a rechargeable battery and a USB cable to charge it.

  • The battery lasts around 10 hours.

  • Has to be connected with the USB cable the first time.

  • It can be connected to Switch and PC with a USB cable.

  • You can change out the C-stick for a normal joystick.

  • It comes in a variety of themes (Mario, Zelda, Pikachu, Sonic).

  • It´s a bit fragile and can have random inputs if broken.

To help visualize the difference between the controllers, take a look at this comparison:

A table comparing the features of all third-party gamecube controllers for the Switch. It has the Power A, Exlene, Hori and PDP gamepads.

How do I connect each Gamecube controller to my Switch or PC?

Connecting them is usually easy. If they are wired, all you need to do is plug them to your Switch or PC.

If they are wireless, pressing the sync button on the Gamepad should be enough to let it be recognized by your Switch. The Gamecube controller will appear among the detected controllers and you will be able to select and play with it.

The only exception is the Exlene controller, which is synced using it´s USB cable the first time you use it. After that, you can connect it wirelessly without much issue.

Remember that these gamepads are *technically* modified Pro Controllers, which means that they all work on PC as well.

We already have written a detailed flowchart on how to connect a Pro Controller to a PC. If they are wired they work just like they do on the Switch, just plug them in. If they are wireless, you have to enable Bluetooth and manually add them from "Bluetooth and other devices".

Keep in mind that on PC, these gamepads will not work with every game out there, but they should work with your entire Steam gallery and most emulators. Just remember to keep the emulator and your drivers up to date to prevent any issues.

Are they good Gamecube controllers?

So, these controllers look like a pretty good substitute for the classic Gamecube gamepad, but are they up to the task?

Well, when talking about their ergonomics, yeah, they are. These gamepads are made in pretty much the exact same shape as the Gamecube controller. The feel of the material, however, does vary.

As a rule of thumb, the cheaper the controller is, the cheaper it was made, and the more it will feel like a plastic Gamecube gamepad that went on a diet. Similarly, the cheaper ones tend to be more fragile and more prone to malfunctions.

They are all licensed by Nintendo (except for Exlene´s), so you can expect them to work fine (bumps notwithstanding). The controller will detect your buttons presses and the pushing of its sticks.

Keep in mind, however, that these are Gamecube imitations, not modern gamepads. A lot of them won´t have some functions that you would expect on an eight-generation controller. They lack rumble, a gyroscope (i.e. motion controls), NFC sensors, and their triggers are not analog (sensitive to pressure).

On that note, it´s important to remember that the Switch doesn't detect analog presses. This means that on the hybrid console, the buttons will always be either pressed or not, without any regard for the strength you use to push it. The controllers with analog triggers will only take advantage of that feature when used on Windows.

So, are they good controllers? They are pretty good at what they are intended to do; play retro games and Smash. If you want an all-around good controller optimized for gaming, these are not it, you are better off checking out modded controller guide to find a more useful alternative.

If you remain unconvinced by the third-party offering and would prefer the original gamepad, there might be another alternative for you...

Playing with official GameCube controllers on PC and Switch

You can also try to play using Nintendo´s official Gamecube controller. This is possible if you have a leftover controller from the Gamecube, or by buying one now.

If you already have a layabout Gamecube controller, you can skip down to the part where we talk about how to connect it with an adapter. If you don´t, we are going to tell you how to get a Gamecube controller in 2020.

As previously stated, Nintendo discontinued the gamepad along with the Gamecube. So how can you get a new Gamecube controller?

Well, Nintendo is not oblivious to its popularity. They occasionally launch a re-release of the gamepad.

This is as close as you can get to buying a brand new Gamecube gamepad as you can get. There are still some slight differences to the original one, but this one is overall the more faithful recreation in the market.

Unlike the other controllers mentioned in the article, this gamepad is made by Nintendo itself. They don´t skimp on the quality of their product a single bit, which is why it´s is pricier than even a new Pro-Controller.

If you are interested in this controller, I recommend you buy it now because it is a limited edition run. Sooner or later they will run out of stock and you´ll be back to square one.

Now, I do have to warn you. This controller is so like the original that you can´t connect it to your PC and Switch, as is. You need to buy the adapter first. The original Gamecube Controller does not have a USB cable and neither does this one.

This controller will work with the Wii and Gamecube.

As a result, the only consoles natively compatible with this gamepad are the Wii and the original Gamecube itself.

However, the materials are slightly different than the original. If you are a purist, you can still buy a used Gamecube controller online. eBay usually has a couple of offers on sale.

So, now you have a bonafide Gamecube Controller, but no way to make it work on your Switch or PC, what are you to do?

How to connect an original Gamecube Controller to your PC and Switch

You will need an adapter to play with a Gamecube controller on anything made after the Wii. This gamepad does not have a USB cable, so modern devices, like computers and the Switch, will not recognize it.

That´s why you need to buy an adapter for them to work. Without one, there is no way to use your Gamecube controller on the current generation consoles or PC.

With a Gamecube adapter, all you have to is plug it to your Nintendo Switch or PC via their USB ports, and then you connect your Gamecube controller to one of its four custom-made ports. That´s it, you can begin playing like usual.

If you are having trouble getting it detected by the emulator, you might want to follow this little guide to play with it on PC.

The adapter supports up to four controllers at the same time, allowing for a full player match in Smash Bros Melee.

Bonus: Gamecube controller on a mac.

If your computer is a Mac and you recently found a good Gamecube emulator, well, you can still play with a third-party Gamecube controller. Or to be specific, with Retro Link´s Wired Controller.

This controller works just like the other third-party alternatives, but with a Mac. It also works on the PC, but not on the Switch.

It shares some of the drawbacks with the other third-party controllers; It is relatively fragile and the sticks aren´t as responsive as they ought to be.

Not an ideal solution to play competitive Smash, but then again, you aren´t going to do much of that on a Mac, now are you?


As you can see, there are plenty of third-party controllers that relive the glory days of the Gamecube. They are a bit on the cheap side, in every sense of the word, but they get the job done if all you want is to play some Smash or another retro game.

If you want more quality, Nintendo did release a Gamecube Controller for the Switch. It blows its competition out of the water, but it also costs more than double what they ask for.

In addition, the official Nintendo alternative needs an adapter to work on the Switch and PC, so that´s another purchase to keep in mind if you opt to try it. If you want to play online, you might an ethernet adapter as well, wi-fi play is notoriously janky.

And if you want, you can also use one of the third-party Gamecube controllers as a gamepad for an Android phone. Learn how to do it here!

Depending on what you want and what´s your budget, either option is a fine choice. If you are not sure if you should geat a Gamecube controller over an extra Joy-con or a normal Pro Controller, check out our guide to help you choose Switch controllers!

And don´t forget to join our mailing list so that we can tell you when one of the controllers mentioned here go on sale.


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