Last time, we took a look at the changes made to the shell of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System’s console shell and why they were made for the North American market. This time out, we’re looking at the controllers.
At a glance, the difference between a Super Famicom controller and a Super NES controller is nowhere near as drastic as that of the respective consoles which they plug into. Aside from the different logos adorning the top-center of the device’s face and a different font used elsewhere, the biggest change one is likely to notice is the change from red, yellow, blue, and green buttons for A, B, X, and Y (respectively, and also acting as a reflection of the Japanese console’s four-dot logo) to a dark purple for A and B, with X and Y taking on more of a brighter lilac.
While this is in keeping with the changes made to the console unit itself, there is one other difference that is more apparent to the touch. While A and B retain their convex (curving outward) shapes, the X and Y buttons instead took on a concave (curving inward) shape.
The reasoning behind this, as designer Lance Barr told Nintendo Power magazine, is that that because few people look at the controller as they play, they couldn’t easily differentiate between which buttons they were pressing. As such, the X and Y buttons were given the more “hollow, dish shape” that the A and B buttons on the original NES had held.
Though it was a good idea in theory and in practice, it apparently did not make too much difference to players in the grander scheme of things, as most controllers to this day — even Nintendo’s own — tend to have a universal shape among all their controllers’ face buttons.