The Boom Adapter
[Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on RFSHQ.com on May 13th, 2007. It was re-written and posted to GatorAIDS in 2010, the article below is the GatorAIDS version.]
My job as a game columnist is to be able to play games, take screenshots or other footage of said games, and then blast the holy hell out of them. This is incredibly easy to do when it comes to using console emulators on a computer and the first time I was made aware of them in middle school started a fire that’ll likely burn the rest of my life. Emulation is a godsend for those of us who want to play classic video games but either A) cannot afford to spend $50 for The Legend of Zelda on eBay, B) don’t feel like blowing into a cartridge ten times, or C) both A and B except instead of Zelda the game is Action 52. My answer choice is C. There is a certain threshold however wherein at some point playing console games with a QWERTY keyboard becomes cumbersome and difficult and the Nintendo 64 marked this point by featuring a controller with an analog stick, a D-pad, a trigger, two shoulder buttons, and six face buttons all wrapped up in a design that required at least three hands to hold.
Certain retailers online have been offering USB interfaces for use with authentic console controllers for years but it was only at this particular time that I discovered I really needed one. After some shopping around that consisted of me looking for the absolute cheapest deal on eBay and nothing else I found an adapter that would suit my needs perfectly. For reasons unknown it is colloquially known as the “Boom Adapter” and features support for not only a Nintendo 64 controller but a PlayStation one as well, you know, for all of those times I say “you know what would make Super Mario 64 better? Some Spyro the Dragon.” I was floored because just prior to mashing the BUY IT NOW button I had downloaded an entire Blockbuster Video’s worth of games to play and I eagerly awaited my package; however when the actual box arrived I tore it open only to stare into a portable version of Hell itself. As I gazed into the abyss, this gazed back.
If the suffering of mankind could be summarized in just one picture (and with a smattering of broken English for good measure) this was it. What had I gotten myself into? What exactly is going on with this box? Furthermore why in the hell does this even include a floppy disk? Does anybody even use those anymore? Why all the colors? Why the Comic Sans MS font? Why? Why? WHY? “Highly compatibility”? “Extra stable”? The box provided more questions than answers so I did the only rational thing I could think of. I flipped it over and read the back.
In hindsight I don’t really know why I flipped the box over. I guess I was hoping the other side would say “haha just kidding” and would have instructions and details printed in perfect fucking English… but no, just the same wacky show except with even more graphics for added redundancy. (You mean that with this PSX+N64 converter I can actually use PSX and N64 controllers?!) It’s like the people (or person most likely) that put this together has no understanding of how either console works; I know of no Dance Dance Revolution pad that plugs into the Nintendo 64. Why bother explaining how you don’t need a power source for this device — why would you need one to begin with? It’s an over-glorified plug converter not a god damn multi-port hub. You just plug it in, that’s what “Plug & Play” actually means. There is no reason to complicate it and there is absolutely no way that I believed the phrase “Plug & Play” when I saw it.
Scanning the back of the box I finally find the system requirements and much to my dismay it appears I have the completely wrong operating system for this thing; I don’t have “Eindows 95”. Not all hope is lost, though, because for what I don’t have (Eindows) I make up for by having about forty-eight USB ports so the “any USB port” requirement is satisfied. If I can meet this adapter halfway perhaps it can compromise too and only let me use one of the two adapter ports (Nintendo 64 please).
Against my better judgment I opened the box and pulled out the translucent blue adapter and with it came a purple floppy disk; the kind you can buy in a 50-pack at Office Depot. The vendor I bought this from guaranteed this was indeed a “Plug & Play” device so I plugged my controller into the adapter and plugged the adapter into my computer and… wait for it… nothing happened. There’s a little diode and a switch on the side of the adapter so maybe it just wasn’t on the correct setting. I fooled with the switch and watched the little light go from red to green and back to red again as I turned it left to right. From what I collected green is “not working” mode and red is “not working even more than green” mode. I tried using another program to map the controller buttons to the keyboard but it was no use, the adapter lay silent and deaf much like the 14-year-old child laborer who probably assembled it.
Desperate for help I went to the last available place I could think of to fix my problem: the dreaded purple floppy disk of death. Knowing full well if the adapter didn’t work at all there was a solid chance that putting this disk into my computer may actually send it back in time. Contained on the diskette was a worthless configuration file made for Windows (Eindows) 98 and a readme file in Microsoft Word. I knew that opening the readme was a dumb idea but I did it anyway just for the hell of it if not for actual help by this point. Upon opening the file I was greeted with painfully generic instructions telling me that the adapter should have been recognized immediately along with some other equally worthless tips that include, and I quote:
“But we STRONGLY SUGGEST you to download the Microsoft DirectX 8.1 and install this Microsoft driver, it’s best solution for you! Your computer can automatic detect ALL the USB convertor / USB joypad / USB steering wheel ……etc!”
“If you have installed the OLD version DirectX before, you can use this DirectX Uninstall Software – ” DirectX Buster V2.1 Beta 4 ” to uninstall your old version DirectX then reinstall the newest version late.”
“When you have installed the DirectX 8.1 already but your SONY joypad is not working well, it’s your SONY joypad compatible cause, please replace another brand PS joypad to test it again.”
And finally at the very bottom of the document I find this:
“BUT for the N64 joypad, isn’t ALL joypad can working steady since the structure of N64 joypad is very complex, so we can’t 100% guarantee your N64 joypad can 100% work.”
Even they admit the Nintendo 64 controller is fucking insane and use it as the scapegoat for why their adapter is nothing more than a glorified drink coaster. Despite all of this they were nice enough to end this document quite ironically with something that should have been emblazoned on the front of the fucking box:
“You have to think over it before you decide to buy this device.”
Well gee, thanks a lot you assholes. Before you advise me to not buy your product I have to actually buy your product first. I could go on and on about how that kind of recursive loop could destroy the space/time continuum but instead I think I’ll just unplug this godforsaken “adapter” and fix a wobbly table with it. In the end I got shafted out of a total of $15 for a piece of crap that I didn’t want to pay a lot of money for. This fixed absolutely zero of my problems so I decided to pony up the money and spent $35 on an Adaptoid. It’s made in the USA and wouldn’t you know, the second I plugged it in my computer said “hey you’re doing something with a game controller aren’t you? Let me help you with that.” My computer is so friendly.
Fuck you, Boom Adapter.