Mega Man Collection for the Nintendo Gamecube has one serious problem, and that´s the fact that the A and B buttons are swapped for some reason, My theory is that they wanted to use the big and green A button as some intuitive way for kids to Fire and the smaller red B button as the means to Jump. There are two problems with this. The first one is that the ones more likely to buy the game would be older fans (kids don´t want older games with outdated graphics) and the second one is that there is nothing intuitive about swapping buttons like that at all.
Anyhow, I needed a solution for it and Googled for “Gamecube Controller Button Swap” and saw this post by someone who wanted to swap the buttons around to fit Virtual Console and GBA games better, and used it as a base to how to make it happen. It was at first a daunting task, since I was nervous I’d break the controller (even though I got a decent 3rd party one to mess around with!) but eventually I got it right. I’ll guide you through my process Step By Step (like the show, remember it?). In the end I considered it being worth it, since re-training decades worth of gaming experience, where you’ve been taught that A-button Jumps and B-button Shoots, is a no-no. I don’t want to cripple myself for a single game!
First step was to assemble everything I thought I’d need:
- A Samurai screwdriver kit, to open up video game cartridges and systems. Click the name to get to the post where I use it to replace internal batteries in Gameboy Game Paks.
- A Soldering iron. I’m really not good with this, but I did manage not to get burned.
- Solder. You know, that poorly-controlled metal that easily transforms into fluid state just to harden when you don’t want it to.
- Some wire, this one was insulated and therefore a wee bit too thick because of that.
- Some electric tape. Not the shocking kind, remember.
First you open the sucker up, removing the front of the shell, and noticing how this 3rd party controller doesn’t have a protective plastic film over the circuits, as the original controllers do. Neat, that saves me a lot of trouble having to scrape it off. The Rumble Pak-thingy of the controller is right behind the board and right where the cord enters the shell.
Then I removed the buttons, because, let’s face it, it’s the area beneath them that’s interesting. If you just wanted to change the buttons and the rubber beneath them, it’d be wise to stop reading here. Otherwise, continue reading!
One can see how the circuits move and how they connect quite clearly on this 3rd party controller, but in all honesty it’s not as clear on the original one, if I recall correctly. Check the original post if you’re curious. Anyhow, now the time had come to begin scraping.
You have to scrape off the copper leads that connect the A and B buttons to the board, and who subsequently lead the signal into the Gamecube. You have to cut them clean off, and since I had a hard time seeing how much copper was actually left, I kept going until I felt the typical resistance of the plywood board underneath. When you’ve reached that point (in other words the point of no return) you stand before one of the toughest handyman tasks I know- soldering. Just don’t get burned! And make sure to have a clean tip on the soldering iron as a dirty tip will make it harder to solder, and it will also take longer to melt the solder. At least, that’s what my limited experience soldering tells me. That, and the small snippets of information I remember from class. I also remember the intense pain you get when you burn yourself, luckily, when I grew up that kind of injury was considered acceptable and there were no laws preventing me from learning to respect injuries.
Think of the next step as if you are going to connect water pipes and, if you must, attach a moustache to feel like Mario if it’s important to you. You simply have to redirect the wires so that when you press the A-button, the wire will lead it into the copper lead for the B-button, and vice versa. If you get it wrong, or if the solder doesn’t connect properly, don’t fret. It’s perfectly possible to heat the solder up again and remove it so that you can try again.
Here’s both of them connected. Notice that insulation on the second, uppermost wire? I was able to close the shell properly, but if you imagine the rubber pads laying over these wires, then it’s easy to understand that it prevented the buttons to get good contact with the board, making them useless. But you can still insulate the wires, in another way, so remove that junk (which I managed to burn with the soldering iron, producing a nasty smell). Rip it off, with all your might!
And here’s the end product, both of the wires clumsily attached with an excess of solder, insulated with electric tape, and producing a great result. Now reattach the front shell and screw it shut if needed. I didn’t since it worked well anyway, just in case I had to make some troubleshooting or re-solder anything. Connect it to the Gamecube and hold your breath, ’cause it’s time to see the result of your hard work!
After a few tries, it worked like a charm! The photos are from my favorite Mega Man game for the NES, Mega Man III. The intro music is awesome and the game well balanced, the only con is the absence of the Charge Shot, but it sounds horrible anyway on the NES, so…
Mega Man Collection didn’t get the best of me! I don’t shoot and fall into pits anymore, and the games actually are playable! And it wasn’t too hard to do either. I mean, the results were so great that the screen started to crack, check those photos!
First image from: http://retro4ever.com/