Just picked up an iNNEXT USB Game Controller off Amazon to use with my TheC64 Mini and Maxi consoles. Why? Well unfortunately after almost 40 years of faithful service my C64C has started to act up. It’s been crashing and freezing whilst playing games that have always run flawlessly before. I’ve ran my diagnostic cart on it and everything passed so I’m hoping it’s just the electrolytic capacitors. My C64C has never been recapped before so it’s been packaged up carefully and sent away to an expert to get them all replaced. I decided not to attempt it myself as I don’t want to risk causing further damage with my dodgy soldering skills! I’ll know the outcome of this in a couple of weeks when I get it back.
Anyway, in the mean time I still want to be able to play my C64 games without having to resort to the Zip stick wannabe’s that the Mini/Maxi consoles come with. Even though the stick that came with the Maxi is much improved I just prefer a gamepad controller these days.
I’m sure there are other controllers out there that will work but I chose these for a number of reasons. The most important one being that in addition to the D-pad they have 8 buttons, matching the number of buttons on TheC64 joystick. They also looked great and came in a pack of 2 for a reasonable price. I was a little apprehensive when purchasing as I wasn’t sure if all the buttons would actually be recognised by the console. This is why I thought I’d share my experience in case anyone else is looking for a similar gamepad for their TheC64’s.
I was fully expecting a nondescript plain box as is often the case with cheap Chinese goods. However the gamepads came supplied in a surprisingly attractive box featuring product shots of the controllers on the front. The reverse side lists all the gamepad features in multiple languages.
A Closer Look
The iNNEXT USB Game controllers themselves are styled like the old SNES gamepads. In addition to the D-Pad they have ‘Select’, ‘Start’, ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘X’, ‘Y’ and two shoulder buttons. Altogether this makes 8 buttons plus the direction controls which matches the configuration of the TheC64 joysticks exactly.
Taking a Peek Inside
The build quality of the pads is really good and although they’re pretty lightweight, they feel solid and well constructed. They certainly didn’t creak or flex in my hands, even when I deliberately tried to bend them. The D-Pads worked well and the buttons have a decent tactile feel to them when pressed. They didn’t feel spongey or rubbery so I was never in any doubt as to whether I had pressed one or not. One little feature I appreciated was the contrasting convex and concave buttons for the XY and AB buttons which made it easier to know what I was pressing in low light.
The cable is approximately 5 foot long (1.5m) which I found was more than long enough for my needs. The gamepad shell itself is held together with 5 small philips screws. Naturally my curiosity got the better of me and I took it apart to see what was inside.
As I should have expected from a modern piece of electronics, there wasn’t really much to see. Still, at least my curiosity was sated!
*Just in case anyone wants to know where I got the Commodore 64 badge from – check out my post here.
The controller just worked out of the box with the games I tried on TheC64 Maxi carousel. By default both shoulder buttons are configured as ‘Fire’ buttons which I found worked pretty well. The Start button brings up the ‘save state’ menu whilst X and Y operate the two triangular buttons. The first three round buttons on the base of the Joystick are replicated by the A, B and Select buttons. So that was every one of the joystick buttons replicated successfully.
I tried a number of non carousel games off a USB flash drive too like Galencia and Soul Force. Happily I experienced no issues at all with these either. Of course if there had been problems there’s always the option of creating custom .CJM files to change the button configuration for specific games if needs be too.
Perhaps you’d like the left shoulder button to operate the spacebar in Ghostbusters for example? No problem, simply add that to a Ghostbusters.CJM file and you can get your C64 shouting ‘Ghostbusters’ without reaching for the keyboard. This is an even more useful feature when dealing with the keyboard-less TheC64 Mini..
iNNEXT USB Game Controller – Verdict
All in all I think these are terrific gamepads and fulfil their retro gaming duties admirably. They’re very reasonably priced, well built, comfortable to hold and work exactly as I’d hoped. I’ll be keeping the 2nd pad as a spare but there’s no reason why you couldn’t plug them both in and enjoy some 2-player games like Pit Stop II or Spy vs Spy. Oh and they work perfectly on PC as well, whether for native PC gaming or some retro emulator action. Definitely recommended.