I'm about to buy an old SNES and some games on ebay for only a few euros. The guy on the phone is telling me the first controller port is broken, so I'd have to go with only one controller on second port.

Is it possible on a SNES? I don't know how those old consoles are made. Would I be able to play solo games with only one controller on second port?

3 Answers 3


I read this question and instinctively agreed with Agent86's answer. But I decided to dust off my own SNES to do science and confirm his answer. The results were not exactly what I expected.

I took out my North American SNES and my library of 13 games. All 13 (eventually) worked. I plugged in one of my controllers in the Player 2 port and tested them out. Results:

  • Out of the 13 games, 5 recognized and worked with a controller plugged only in the P2 port.

  • 5 out 5 of those games supported two player mode.

  • 4 out 5 of those games allowed you to start a single player game with a single controller plugged in the P2 port. The other game would only let you choose two player mode.

  • The other 8 games were all one-player games only.

What I am concluding from this experiment is that you can play some SNES games with only the P2 port functioning, but it seems those games have to support two player gameplay with a second controller. Some of those games have good one player campaigns (Super Mario World, for example), but solely one-player games seem to be a no-no.

  • 6
    Knowing a bit about how the coding works in a SNES game (very low-level programming direct against the hardware), it's not that it has to support 2-player gameplay, it's that it has to specifically support the second controller in every necessary menu. That's often done in 2-player games, but it's not code that will automatically be present just because 2-player gameplay is present. Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 17:58
  • @SevenSidedDie Good point, let me tweak that.
    – Kareen
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 17:59
  • Thanks everybody for the quick answer. I'll have to go with testing the games one by one I guess.
    – Julio
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 21:29

As I recall, most single player SNES games will only recognize a controller if it is plugged into the primary controller port. Without the ability to plug one in here, you won't be able to play most games.

  • I never owned a SNES, but as a software developer I do not doubt your answer.
    – Nolonar
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 16:18
  • 2
    IIRC, the PS3 is the first console I've ever had that's allowed anything other than the first "port" to play single player games. And support for that is still limited. I seriously doubt any console with physical ports ever supported this and I'm pretty sure the SNES specifically didn't.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 16:57
  • 1
    @BenBrocka I've played SP XBOX360 games with the second controller. In order to do this though, you first have to connect a controller as #1, then a second, then you can disconnect the first. I also remember doign this on my N64. Either way, PS3 certainly isn't the first system to support this.
    – Jesse Webb
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 22:49
  • @JesseWebb Xbox 360 doesn't have dedicated controller ports. The first controller it detects is assigned to player one.
    – CyberSkull
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 14:48

It's not (just) about the console and/or game
It depends on how the game has been programmed
If the game has been programmed to detect input from the second controller port as well in the game menus, it will work
If the game has been programmed in such a way that the main game menus only accept keypresses from the primary controller (or if the console hardware is designed in such a way that games have to be programmed like this; for example, Famicom 2nd player controller did not have start or select button in them I think), then just plugging in a controller in the second player port won't make it work like a primary controller

  • 2
    The question is "Can one-player games be played when only the second controller port works?", not "How does a game need to be programmed to handle single-player with only the 2nd controller plugged in?".
    – kotekzot
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 3:20
  • 2
    @kotekzot: and the answer for “Can one-player games be played when only the second controller port works?” is: “depends on the game, here are requirements…”. See accepted answer too.
    – liori
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 7:29
  • 1
    @liori that would be a good answer if the requirements were something a gamer could gauge on his own. Unless you can telepathically link with the developers of the game in question this answer doesn't help you at all.
    – kotekzot
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 16:29
  • but that's how it works you can't telepathically contact the developers in any case whether the game has the function we need or not
    – user13267
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 18:03
  • 2
    So the valid answer is : It may work, It depends on the game, It has to be tested game by game
    – Julio
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 7:43

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