NES Controller Mod: Special Attack Button




Introduction: NES Controller Mod: Special Attack Button

I've been playing a lot of old NES games and I've noticed that a lot of games use a combination of buttons to do the special attack. This was getting annoying in those high intensity moments and it just wouldn't work right for me. I thought there must be a better way, maybe a shoulder button, like on modern game console, that was just for the special attack. So after a little bit of playing around this is what i came up with.

For this mod i will make my shoulder button combination will be UP and B because this is how you do the special attack in two of my favorite games (Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden), it can be changed to any combination of buttons to suit your favorite game though.

Step 1: What You Need,

NES controller
Soldering iron
Prototyping board (I used strip board)
Button (get a decent sized one)
2 PNP transistors (NPN could be used but you would have to change the wiring a little, I will be teaching you how to do it with PNP)

Step 2: Making the Board

I used a tiny bit of strip board 4 rows wide by 6 holes long.
Looking at the transistors with the flat part towards you put them in the board so that the middle leg from each will be connected to each other and the right leg from each will be connected to each other. The left leg will be on its own row.

Now solder them in and make sure that you can bend the transistors flat and that the mounds of solder you get are as small as possible, there is very little room inside the controller and i ended up filing down the parts i soldered to get it to fit in.

Note: you could solder the transistors directly to each other and save some room, i didn't do this, i only thought of this after. 

Step 3: Add Wires

Solder in a wire to each of the rows of your board.

Step 4: Add the Button

Take the wire that is soldered into the middle legs of the transistors and solder the other end to your button. Then solder another wire to the other connection of your button.

Step 5: Open Up the Controller and Connecting the Wires

Open up the controller using a screwdriver and put the casing aside for now.

Looking at the green side of the circuit board there are several black circles, these are the contacts for the buttons, and two rows of pins for the microchip. 

On the right hand side there will be two little copper circles, the left one is ground.
solder the wires that come from the button and the right leg of your transistors to this point.

Find where the contacts of the first button you want to use in your special attack button and follow them until they end on the end on the chip in the middle of the board.
Take the wire for the left leg of one of your transistors and solder it to this point.
Do the same thing for the second button you want in your special attack button.

I Have marked where to solder the wires for the UP and B combo.

Step 6: Test

Don't bother screwing it back together just hold it together while you test it out.
Make sure all the normal buttons work as normal and then test the special attack button. If anything doesn't work right then go back and double check everything.

Step 7: Drill the Hole for the Button

Take all the buttons out of the casing and screw it back together. Mark the point where you want your button to be, making sure its not going to hit any of the screws. Then, using a drill bit the same size as your button, drill your hole. I recommend doing this slowly, I drilled too fast and nearly cracked my case.

Step 8: Put Everything Back Together

This part gets a bit squashy. I found the best place to put your new circuit board is in the top left corner of the front part of the controller, under the original circuit board.

I didn't have to use any glue to secure my button in place, it just sits on top of the original circuit board and that holds it in place nicely. You will probably have to glue it though, or if its too big cut away a part of the original board to allow it to fit (make sure you don't break any of the connections if you do this) 

Put the back cover on and replace all the screws and you're done!

Step 9: Play

Enjoy playing your favorite NES games with your new special attack button!

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    10 years ago on Introduction

    hi, nice idea and tutorial, can you explain what is the purpose of the transistors, why not just solder the button directly to the inputs?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    If you do that you wont be able to use B or UP normally, it will do the special attack instead.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I couldn't understand why it doesn't work directly so I tested it with my arcade stick and, well the special attack button worked just fine but it caused some other problems like the direction buttons caused start presses etc.

    but it doesn't really cause the special attack when pressing up or b, that just didn't make any sense to me, maybe it's a bit random(depends on game) what it does when combining up and b button and then while they are combined some other key as well when you are playing.

    I think this would work fine if you add diodes to the special attack button wires? so that they can only head to ground?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, first I want to say great instructable! It's nice to see an old school console getting some love :) However, I just want to say it might be a good idea to specify the part number of the transistors used, as the order of the base, emitter, and collector pins can change from one transistor to the next. I am assuming you are using a 2N3905 or 2N3906. Lastly, as someone who took the time to draw out your circuit to see how it works lol, I can say a wiring diagram would be appreciated. Anyways, like I said, great 'ible! Keep up the good work!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the advice, I think I will draw a circuit diagram when i get the chance. As for the part number 624 BC 556B.

    Double Dragon had to press both A and B at *precisely* the same time. I bet this kinda hack would be a lifesaver on my thumbs for that game.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I wish I would have had this as a kid. My brother might not have beaten me as much then!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I still have my nes. But none of my favorite games have special attack buttons or anything like that. Or at least I dont know about them. This was a really good instructable. And hey it made it on the main screen of instructables. I learned a thing or two while reading through it.