The best Nintendo controllers for people with one arm


As someone who loves gaming and who was also born with one arm, a good controller is a must.  While some consoles use motion controls, they’re not the best for people like me.  Sometimes movements do not register in sensors because my right arm is too short.  As the length of my arm starts at my shoulder and ends just below my elbow.  Then you have a Nintendo console like the Wii.

Where some games required using the Wii Remote and nunchuck at the same time.  Something I could not do.  I could use the steering wheel to play Mario Kart, I could use the Wii Remote to play most portions of Wii Sports (Boxing with one arm is not fun).


But not being able to utilize the Wii’s motion controls to their fullest extent took some of the fun out of playing it, and all prospects of me buying one.  But that does not mean I cannot fully enjoy other consoles Nintendo has put out, both past and present.  Before I dive into my list of Nintendo controllers best suited for gamers like me, let me give you some background about my life.  As mentioned earlier I was born with one arm.

My umbilical cord wrapped around my arm cutting of its growth.  Before I ever picked up a controller, I got into gaming through playing pinball.  Not only did the flashing lights of various machines and the universal simplicity of its controls attract me to the game, but being that I was a tiny tyke with very limited reach, my parents played the game with me.  I would work the plunger and the left flipper(s), they would stand next to me working the right side.

nintendo Not only did the game of pinball lay the foundation for my love of gaming, it also was responsible for creating the close bond I currently have with my parents.  As well as many of my fondest childhood memories.  Then at the age of five-years-old, I got behind a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) controller for the first time.  Its simple design like that of the pinball machines I played made my venture into video games easier.

To help paint a better picture of how I play video games, picture a classic NES controller (or any controller).  Now split it in half.  I use my left hand to control the left side which has the directional pad and/or left thumbstick, and I use my right stub to press the buttons and move the right stick.  Now I know what you are probably thinking which is how do I not mash all of the buttons like a little kid playing Super Smash Bros. and it’s actually simple.

nintendoThough the end of my stub is round, it consists of bones.  One in particular on the backside of it is pointy and allows me to individually press buttons with pinpoint precision.  Basically, it is kind of like having a second elbow.  Without further adieu, here is my list of the best Nintendo controllers for people with one arm.

5.  Nintendo 64 Controller

While it does not look very simplistic on the outside, it actually is very easy to use.  The center hilt allows for the perfect grip.  By placing your index finger on the bottom where the Z-button is and your thumb on the center joystick, you have full control of the device as your other fingers wrap around it.  When it comes to pressing buttons, the C-buttons are mostly used to move the camera, and the top bumpers are rarely used.

Allowing you to focus primarily on the B and A buttons to attack, accelerate, or brake.  But if you are playing Mario Kart 64, or Diddy Kong Racing, the Z-button is primarily used for attacks so the controls are kept simple.  If you’re playing Wrestlemania 2000 or Super Smash Bros., then you will be using both A and B more often when it comes to attacking opponents.

4.  Nintendo Gamecube Controller


I was debating whether to put this at number four or the Joy-Con.  But comfortability is key.  While the Joy-Con is fun to use, the placement of a right thumbstick directly below the action buttons is an issue.  Not a major one, but while using it I find myself having to turn my stub.

Where with the Gamecube’s controller I can keep it in a more natural and comfortable position because its right stick is to the side of the other buttons rather than directly beneath them.  Though the B-button is smaller it is still easy to hit by itself.  Also, the circular placement of the buttons instead of the standard diamond formation makes playing with a stub easy.  In my case, the positioning of the buttons gives the right side of the controller a more fitted feel as the Y and X buttons curve around it.

3.  Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Controller


When it comes to simplicity, you cannot get simpler than the original.  Two main buttons and a directional pad provide an easy experience for anyone with one arm who wants to get into gaming.  Depending on the size and look of your stub the buttons being side by side won’t be an issue.  If you have children with one arm, I find it best to start them off with this.

Using an NES Classic is best because your not blowing into cartridges and your child can have an uninterrupted experience.  The only issue with the NES Classic is the cord connecting the controller to the console is only 30 3/8 inches long.  Which is much shorter than cord for the original controller which is 91.5 inches long.  So your kid is going to be close to the TV screen.

2.  Super Nintendo  (SNES) Controller


What makes the Super Nintendo’s controller rank higher than its rectangular predecessor is its shape.  While the controller for the NES is simpler and has fewer buttons, its design it is not formed to fit in your hand like the Super Nintendo’s controller.  The SNES controller has rounded sides allowing it to fit comfortably between your thumb and index finger.  Even though the buttons are placed in a diamond formation, the space between each one is good.  Also, the mapping of its buttons makes it easier to transition to a more modern controller.

Mostly because they are mapped the same way.

1.  NES Advantage Controller


This was my very first controller and was the only one I used when I owned an original Nintendo Entertainment System.  My parents bought it for me so I had a heavy controller I could place on my lap and not have to worry about holding it, or having it fall over.  Which for me was amazing when I was little and just getting into video games.  This controller capitalized on having the word “Advantage” in its name.

A single joystick replaced the directional pad, and the B and A buttons were the size of buttons you would see on an arcade cabinet.  Maybe a little bit bigger.  Which was great for building hand-eye coordination at a very young age.  Its start and select buttons were on the side so there was no worry when it came to accidentally hitting them.

Making the NES Advantage the best Nintendo controller ever for people with one arm.  What are some of your favorite Nintendo controllers?  If you are a gamer with a disability, what controller best fits your need?  What would you like to see controllers look like in the future?  Comment below!






Nick Battaglia
As a gamer with one arm, Nick strives to inform and showcase what it is like to play games from his point-of-view.  While his love for RPG's, fighters, and everything Nintendo is strong, the only thing stronger is his want to become the live-action version of Mega Man. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @MercWithOneArm.