This is probably a hardware-related question.

I have recently bought a total of 7 (seven) different original SNES controllers from different sources, all of them being somewhat used but mostly appearing in very good condition.

All of them, with no exception, exhibit some kind of problem with the shoulder button's input registration (L/R). Mostly, the button is clearly pressed but sometimes the input does not get registered, and/or I need to apply an uncomfortable level of force for it to be registered.

The unlikelihood of this happening for every single controller I bought drove me to try some other solutions including:

  • A full controller cleanup, plus alcohol treatment for the button pads
  • Full replacement of all rubbers
  • Exorcism
  • Homeopathic remedies

None of the above worked. So my question is: what the hell is wrong with original SNES controllers' shoulder buttons? Were they just badly designed, or am I experiencing a 100% rate of bad luck at getting a non-faulty controller?

  • 4
    This is anecdotal (hence comment vs question) but I'm pretty sure 100% of my SNES controllers had problems with the shoulders that was directly correlated to when we got Super Street Fighter (intuitively mashing those buttons harder to do the hard attacks caught up to us)
    – Foon
    Feb 25, 2021 at 14:44
  • 2
    And meant to ask: I seem to remember that the plastic (I remember it being plastic not rubber) on ours physically cracked ... were yours intact?
    – Foon
    Feb 25, 2021 at 15:08
  • 1
    The plastic cases were intact for all of my joypads... I believe this issue might be related to how the button pads are placed vertically against the main controller board (It doesn't seem so stable when you open it up).
    – Lake
    Feb 26, 2021 at 15:08

1 Answer 1


Looking at the pictures on iFixit, the two PCBs that fit behind the shoulder buttons don't seem to be reinforced by anything much:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Excess pressure on the shoulder buttons might bend these boards slightly away and cause the connection to not be made. The alternative is corrosion on the connection traces; you say you have tried contact cleaner.

Try bending these slightly and make sure that they fit into the grooves on the back half of the case.

  • 1
    I did try to open up a few controller to check the positioning of those shoulder PCBs, I tried to change their angle a bit so that they are straight up, but for what I can tell they are properly set where they should be... I don't know what to think, my take is that this was just bad design.
    – Lake
    Mar 4, 2021 at 9:48
  • There is another possibility. The SNES controllers used a serial interface, where the button positions were encoded onto a common set of data lines. I'd there is a partial fault in this chip, or its connections (e.g. dry solder), this might affect the reading of the buttons. Mar 4, 2021 at 12:31

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