The one gripe that I have with playing games with an emulator, is the lack of the feel of using original equipment, mostly controllers. Times have changed a lot in recent years, with several companies releasing recreations of some of our most common controllers with USB plugs, with versions for everything from the NES to the Saturn. However a man named Simon Inns wanted even more, and this new hack permits you to use a Nintendo Four Score adapter with USB supported PCs.


The Four Score was an NES accessory released in 1990, that allowed users to play four player games on special game cartridges that supported such gameplay. Before the device was originally created, there were many games that offered support for more than two players, however in most cases, players needed to alternate turns using the 2 NES controllers. In some situations (such as game show related games like Jeopardy), two players would actually share a controller, with buttons being reprogrammed for “buzzing in”. The Four Score could also be used as a controller extension cable, since the wire which plugs into the NES system itself was several feet long.


The circuit board which was used is a drop-in replacement for the original circuitry. All one would have to do is remove the major components from the original board, and then re-solder them back on to the new PCB. With the way this was accomplished, the new board (when reassembled), does not change the look of the original device.


Simon wrote the code in the drivers, so that even though there is only one USB cable actually being connected to the computer, each controller port appears as it’s own USB controller. The joystick device can be founds in Windows 7 under “Devices And Printers”. Right clicking on the Four Score device and then choosing “Game Controller Settings” will present the user each of the four available game controllers, in order of ports 1 to 4 on the actual unit. (While we are showing you the Windows drivers, the replacement board and firmware also work under Macintosh and Linux platforms.) In addition, the turbo buttons featured for the joysticks, as well as the 2 vs 4 player switch was also reconnected and fully functional.


Now I’m not going to pretend that I would have any idea on how to do this hack, so those that have tinkered with these kind of projects should check out the link and video below, to see the full schematics and instructions on how to accomplish it. I said in the beginning of this article that one of my beefs with emulation is the lack of original feel. If more of these kind of hacks interest me enough, I may have a different view on the entire situation! Have you ever done any kind of hack like this?

NES Four Score To USB Hack (from “Waiting For Friday”):