Mad Catz GameCube MicroCon Wireless Controller review: Mad Catz GameCube MicroCon Wireless Controller
The Nintendo GameCube is now essentially defunct, replaced by the Nintendo Wii. The Wii can handle both GameCube and Wii game discs, plus a selection of classic NES, Super NES, Sega Genesis, Turbografix 16, and Nintendo 64 titles on its pay-per-download Virtual Console. But there's a catch: GameCube games and most of the Virtual Console titles can't utilize the standard Wiimote controller. As a result, the once single-purpose GameCube controllers are now finding a second life on the Wii.
The Mad Catz GameCube MicroCon Wireless Controller ($20) is Mad Catz's answer to the Nintendo WaveBird. Both are wireless GameCube controllers that work equally well with compatible games on the Nintendo Wii. Unfortunately, the MicroCon doesn't quite meet the standard Nintendo set with the WaveBird.
The MicroCon is much smaller and lighter than the Nintendo WaveBird, weighing a scant 5.5 ounces to the WaveBird's 8.5. This is mostly because the MicroCon lacks the WaveBird's rumble feature. This issue is moot for Virtual Console games, which don't use rumble at all. Gamers might still miss the feature when playing their old GameCube games, however.
Like the WaveBird, the Mad Catz MicroCon uses a small dongle that plugs into one of the Wii's four GameCube controller ports. It works fine, but the need to open the cover flap (on the side or the top, depending on whether your Wii is oriented horizontally or vertically) and attach the transceiver does ruin the console's minimalist aesthetic. And like the Wii controllers, the MicroCon utilizes two AA batteries; you'll probably want to invest in a set of third-party rechargeables.
The general design is similar to the WaveBird and the corded GameCube controller, but the buttons are smaller and less responsive. Smaller hands won't have too much of a problem with it, but big-mitted gamers might find the controller cramped and uncomfortable. Finally, the Start button is tucked down between the controller's directional pad and the secondary analog stick, making it much more difficult to readily access than the WaveBird's Start button. Unlike the WaveBird, the MicroCon doesn't have a wireless channel selector. This isn't a major problem, but gamers who want to use several wireless GameCube controllers at one time might notice some interference.
Modeled after the original GameCube controller, the MicroCon is obviously suited well for playing GameCube games. Regrettably, Virtual Console games are much more hit or miss. Because of the button layout, some older games can feel pretty awkward. The large A button, along with the smaller B, Y, and X buttons, feel much different from the old NES and Super Nintendo controllers, and the pressure-sensitive shoulder buttons must be pushed down all the way to register a button press.
Unfortunately, Nintendo doesn't offer much of a choice for playing older games on the Wii. The conventional design of the Wii Classic Controller is much more suited for Virtual Console games, but it won't play GameCube games at all. As indicated, the MadCatz MicroCon, the Nintendo WaveBird, and other (wired) GameCube controllers can play both GameCube and Virtual Console games, but they're not nearly as comfortable for older games. The Classic Controller might feel better, but you'd be missing out on the greatest games of the last generation like Metroid Prime, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Star Wars Rogue Leader. In the end, we prefer a GameCube controller because of its support for nearly every old game in Nintendo's library. We're also willing to pay a bit extra for the better ergonomics and rumble support offered by the Nintendo WaveBird. But if you prefer a smaller controller and want to save a few bucks, the Mad Catz GameCube MicroCon Wireless Controller is a decent alternative.