Like so many of you enthusiasts out there, I have a bit of a collecting bug. When I like something, I tend to explore every part of it and find a whole host of things that I never knew I needed. If you’re here, you probably already know what I’m talking about when it comes to the sea of choice in handhelds. But what about all those accessories you see during checkout over AliExpress?

I think controllers can make for just as interesting an exercise in design as handhelds. Near endless shapes and customizations are possible to fit the preferences of any gamer. Even if the device ends up being less than you’d hoped, things are generally good enough these days. You won’t feel too bad giving it to your kids or friends who can’t be trusted with nice dishes.

Nick Controller Collection - 1

Editor’s Note: Nobody needs this many controllers

In this continuing series, I hope to give you a brief overview of my experiences with various 3rd party controller options to allow you the reader to decide what options, if any, might be a fit for you. I’ll try my best to find what I paid for each item. Each will be tested in a Windows PC environment. More specifically, a build of RetroBat from Zu’s friends Kin and Hank. To get started, I’d like to take a look from the bottom of the barrel. These are the types of controllers that come packed in with a 40,000-in-one HDMI emulation stick of questionable provenance.

The Bootleg DualShock

If there is a bog standard of 3rd party generic controllers, this would probably be it. Made by either Data Frog or any host of other budget dealers, these PS2-era DualShock knockoffs are AAA battery-powered and come with a 2.4 GHz receiver to connect to any USB source that will have them. Currently listed on AliExpress as “2.4Ghz Wireless Gamepad PC Game Controller For Game Stick GD10 / M8 / G5 / G11 PRO Game Box Video Game Console Joystick.”

These controllers go for as low as 5 bucks for a pair. I received mine packed in with a Kinhank Super Console X I bought around the start of the pandemic. We’re just now starting to see these phased out as the defacto emulation console packs in, but they’re still around.

Bootleg Dual Sense

Bootleg DualShock

The best thing you can really say about these controllers is that they do their job as advertised. Powered by a pair of AAA batteries, these are as no-frills as it gets. They are a familiar shape and layout and communicate with the receiver. What else can you really hope for at this price point? You sure aren’t getting gyroscopes, and rumble ’tis but a dream.

The analog sticks are actually of an admirable quality given the cost, and will feel entirely at home for someone who used a DualShock in the PS2 era. Holding down the “Mode” button did seem to switch the controller over to some form of Bluetooth, but it just showed up in Windows as 4 instances of a generic device; none of which would connect. The 2.4 connection seems stable enough, but there is noticeable input lag at times.

Bootleg Dual Sense Top Down

Bootleg DualShock Top-Down

Look, this thing was outdated when it came out. It serves its purpose as a pack-in for cheap all-in-one emulation home consoles, but even then you will want to upgrade them to something better. If you’re caught in a pinch, they’ll work, but otherwise, there’s no reason to explore these as a viable option today.

Bootleg DualShock

The Shiny Grimace

I don’t know what possessed me to even add this one to the cart other than it was probably too late at night, and I was in a state of questionable judgment. The NS009-S, from the best I can tell, is made by a company called YLW Technology, who “focus on game development and technology” out of Shenzen. It currently lists for about $8 on AliExpress.


Check out that classy ass font

Like the Bootleg DualShock before it, this is leftover stock from a bygone era. The controller is advertised as compatible wirelessly with Android and Switch, with additional PC and PS3(!) compatibility via USB-C. It’s two solid pieces of molded plastic that I can only properly describe as being Happy Meal-esque. It’s plenty solid but somehow feels as low quality as possible. Trying to stop it from being covered in smudges is a fool’s errand. The plastic has a sheen to it that just looks off.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the inexplicably ugly brown offering.

I wish that I had a kitchen scale to tell you how much this thing weighs because there is nothing listed in the online PDF manual. It’s light. Like, am I actually holding this thing in my hands light? You can feel the lack of quality from the moment you pick it up. If you chucked this thing across an open field, it would probably have a flight pattern similar to a whiffle ball. It’s that light. It does get a slight extra nod in the features department by having rumble motors included.

NS009-S Rear

NS009-S’ backend

I can’t explain to you how the controller performed under a real-world test, because I couldn’t conduct one. After plugging in the controller to my PC via USB-C, I could never seem to get it to switch into the right mode, despite any instructions outlined in the PDF manual. I somehow managed to bring up an on-screen keyboard via the controller.

No idea how I did that.

And with that, I think I’ve gone as far as I need to test the old purple monster. I know it worked in some capacity at some point, but never well. The L2/R2 triggers have no range of motion. They are one-clickers. The analog sticks feel fine enough I suppose. They were thoughtful enough to include some gripping nubbins for your thumbs.


After letting my blood pressure settle and using the thoughtfully included paperclip reset function, the controller connected to the PC just fine via USB. I ran it through the Metal Man level of Mega Man 2 and it was quite responsive. It still feels like cheap smudgey plastic trash in your hands, but to their credit, the folks over at YLW have made a functioning controller as advertised.

I would recommend this controller as a cheap way to start a peripheral-based art project. Or just leave it sitting there on a shelf, like I have. If it’s worth 8 bucks to you to look at a piece of shiny plastic, then they have you covered, but otherwise, you shouldn’t be tempted by the deal.

GAMINJA Wireless Gamepad

Bonus Controller Without a Home in This Feature

Meteor Controller Mario Switch

The Meteor plays some Mario on Switch

I only wrote about it a few weeks ago, but I’d be remiss if I left out the micro-wonder that could. I hate to lump it in here with controllers that you really shouldn’t consider for real-world use, but let’s call a spade a spade. This controller is a fun novelty. It will never be anyone’s daily preferred way to play games, but at the end of the day it deserves consideration as a bonus add-on fun buy. Check out my full write-up on the Linyuvo Meteor.


These are indeed the dregs of controllers. Not the ones you should buy. Let me experience that hurt so that you don’t have to. I will give the nod in this portion of the race to the Bootleg DualShock for no other reason than it works when you plug it in and it will get you buy in a pinch. Neither really serves any purpose beyond this use case. BUT! Fear Not! There is quality to be found for less! As we continue to explore the world of budget 3rd party controlling, we’ll start looking at some more options that might actually be worth exploring.

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