For fans of retro games there's nothing better than sitting down, controller in hand, with a classic title loading on the screen in front of you ... except perhaps for sitting down in front of a huge controller made out of LEGO. Which fully works. Yes, that would do it. Thanks to the hard work of one Baron von Brunk, Nintendo fans who never lost their love of the original NES can now see their dreams fulfilled.
Baron von Brunk (born Julius A. Brunk) is a graphic designer and LEGO enthusiast from New York. The idea to build a giant NES controller was conceived in the summer of 2012 and the project took several months to complete. Fully-functional giant NES controllers have been made before, but this is the first to have been built entirely from LEGO.
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The controller is almost to scale and as close as possible to the real thing. It works thanks to a combination of the circuit boards from several NES controllers, speaker wire, and a lot of soldering. Once complete, von Brunk connected the giant controller to his laptop via a USB cable and, after some serious calibration, played Nintendo Entertainment System games via ROMs.
Unfortunately, von Brunk doesn't know the exact number of pieces that went into the NES controller due to the organic nature of the build, which comprised a combination of rushing and "trial and error." When certain sections didn't work, they'd be dismantled in order for something else to be tried. However, he estimates it's in "the thousands."
The giant NES controller isn't the first epic LEGO build undertaken by Von Brunk, and his favorite of all time is the Super Mario 3 airship. The NES controller is currently mounted on top of a table in his workshop and still functional. Certain titles work better than others, such as puzzle games like Tetris and Dr. Mario. On the other hand, "games which require rapid A & B combos, like Super Mario Bros. or Contra" are more challenging to play with this behemoth of a controller.
The video below shows von Brunk testing out the system with various NES games. This reveals some of the difficulties of playing with an over-sized controller, with the need to hit the A & B buttons while also using the D-pad proving particularly tricky.
There's already one potential buyer lined up for the piece, with a "friend of a friend" offering "a couple thousand [US dollars] or so." If that falls through, von Brunk would "gladly sell it to some museum or toy store to put on permanent display," as long as they can remove it from the house intact. Enthusiastic amateurs who would like to try building one for themselves can use the rough guide posted on Instructables.
NB: For those wondering about the Baron von Brunk name, it's an internet moniker with an element of truth to it. The pre-anglicized form of the Brunk name was von Brunk, and the "Baron" was added thanks to Prussian noblemen in his family tree.