The best way to emulate a console is by using the actual controller for that console. Here are some different adapters that'll let you use those controllers on your PC:
- Mayflash adapters work well and are relatively cheap. Had lots of driver problems, mostly corrected.
- 4-play An all in one solution and the most complete adapter you can buy.
- RetroUSB Good adapters, not the best prices.
- RaphNet For making your own NES/SNES controller adapters, can also be purchased pre-made.
The DualShock 3 has a very good d-pad, which is something that's hard to find nowadays. Very useful for older consoles. It also has 10-bit precision analog sticks, pressure sensitive buttons, and it can be used wired or wirelessly with a Bluetooth adapter.
The Dual Shock 3 requires special software to work on a pc. In Windows, an external program needs to be installed to use DS3 controllers. Use the new SCP Driver Package. Do not use MotioninJoy if you can. On Linux, QtSixA is available, but if you run into problems try xboxdrv. See the DualShock 3#Troubleshooting page if you run into problems.
The Dual Shock 4 also requires a wrapper to get full functionality on PC, like DS4 to Xinput or SCP Driver Package.
The 360 controller does offer good ergonomics and many prefer its analog stick layout -though there are a lot who feel otherwise- over other controllers. However, the poor D-pad means it is lackluster when it comes to emulating older consoles.
For the wired 360 controller simply is plug in, install the drivers, and play. For wireless, you will need a wireless adapter to use a wireless controller on a PC.
Logitech USB Gamepad
Logitech also makes good gamepads that plug directly into the USB port on your computer. Their layout is similar to PlayStation DualShock. There is both a wired and wireless one.
Miscellaneous USB Gamepads
There are also cheaper gamepads made by various other companies. However their build quality may not be as good as Logitech. Some of them are made to be duplicates of console controllers which may be useful when emulating consoles controllers with non standard layouts like the N64 controller.
Arcade sticks mimic arcade controls. They are typically used by fighting game fans, but can be used for emulation as well.
http://www.xgaming.com X-Arcade sticks are designed primarily for MAME users but the controls can be easily mapped to any button. Generally considered tacky to use a prebuilt control pannel with a home made MAME cabinet but is acceptable to use as a standalone controller. Prices range from $99 to $200
http://store.madcatz.com Mad Catz sell a wide variety of arcade sticks for the Xbox 360 but function perfectly well with most operating systems with a little configuration and behave like a normal wired Xinput controller.
Pretty much any bluetooth controller will work with an Android or iPhone for emulation. Some recommend controllers:
- DualShock 3 ($40) Good quality controller
- Nyko Playpad Pro ($20) Cheap controller. Has similar layout as DualShock 3.
- Moga Controller ($20) Cheap controller, comes with a clip to attach phone.
- Gametel ($30) Smaller controller, comes with a clip to attach phone. Has similar to layout to NES controller
- Main article: Wiimote
For emulating Wii games, this is an option if you want to use the real controller. You can connect your Wiimote to your PC using this guide. If you computer does not have Bluetooth you will need to get a compatible USB Bluetooth adapter, this one has been known to work. In order for the Wiimote pointer to be detected, you'll need a wireless sensor bar or 2 candles.
Traditional light guns rely on the behavior of CRT monitors and TVs to function. There are light guns that do not rely on the monitor for positioning but behave more like wiimotes using IR light.. The accuracy is not as good but most people can adjust fairly quickly. Within most emulators the sensor in the light gun behaves like a mouse and usually require no special drivers for setup.
Works with all monitors including CRT, LCD, and plasma. The package comes with both the USB gun (an infrared receiver) & a USB-to-infrared transmitter bar that sits on top of the screen. The calibration software for Windows XP/Vista/7 is available on the Ultimarc website, but it's also been confirmed to work on Windows 8 (no drivers are required; the unit works as a mouse). The gun kit is also designed to work on Playstation 2 & 3 consoles as well as in Linux (again, as a mouse,) though there are no official calibration programs for Linux.