N64 Connoisseur

Why Do You Hate the Rumble Pak?

Hey! Are you guys still here? Seems like a while since I’ve seen you. Thanks for waiting! The N64 Connoisseur is back from the holiday break and I have a question for you. Why the heck do you guys hate on the Rumble Pak so much? It seems to me that a lot of Nintendo 64 conversations always come back to 2 major complaints: I hate the controller and that rumble thing was stupid. Well, Tyler Beauregard already handled the controller issue on Retroware TV. He handled it beautifully, I might add. I will go to bat for the Rumble Pak and poke holes in your most common Rumble Pak complaints.

“It took AAA batteries. How cool could it possibly be?” – Very cool, actually. I should clarify that these are actual things I have heard in Rumble Pak bashing sessions. Is it the fact that it required electricity that bothers you or the small size of the batteries? Electronics require electricity, it is inherent in their name. There were 3rd party Rumble Pak knock-offs that would use the power from the controller, but they weren’t nearly as effective because there wasn’t enough juice for that. Many of your Xbox 360 controllers require batteries, are they bad? How about your Wii-Motes? For that matter, how about your wireless keyboard and mouse, digital cameras, phones, TV remotes, do I need to keep going? The Rumble Pak needed an independent power source to work correctly, it’s not that big of a deal.

“I had to buy another add-on.” – No you didn’t. First of all, “had to” implies that there is no choice in the matter. There was not a single game that required the Rumble Pak in order to play although there was a large amount of games that supported the Rumble Pak feature as an addition to the gameplay experience. Secondly, if you wanted one, you could have simply purchased a copy of Star Fox 64, a game most N64 owners bought anyway. They gave you a Rumble Pak with the game. Doesn’t seem to me like anyone is forcing anyone to do anything.

Star Fox 64 (N64)

Oh, this amazing game comes with a free industry changing peripheral? I guess I’ll take it.

“I can’t use that and my Controller Pak at the same time.”  – It depends what you mean by “at the same time.” If you mean that you have a game that causes vibration as a gameplay mechanic of saving the game, than no, I suppose you can’t use them simultaneously. If you had one of the very few games that did not save to the cartridge but did support the Rumble Pak, you could change out the controller accessory on the fly. It was like emptying a clip and then changing mags in the middle of a gunfight. Essentially, it was like a game within a game. You should be thankful instead of whiny.

“It didn’t even make the games that much better.” – Yeah, I guess that makes sense. I mean, you’re right after all. The games got no improvement by the addition of a vibration feature. That probably explains why almost every controller since then has had vibration built into it and also why no one makes a console game anymore that doesn’t support the vibration feature. So much so, in fact, that there is not even a special mention of vibration as a feature on the boxes/cases anymore. It is simply standard. The Rumble Pak was so innovative, so revolutionary that its features became the industry standard.

The Rumble Pak did indeed change gaming upon its release. Was it perfect? Of course not, but for the very first item of its kind, it did a pretty darn good job and set a standard for gameplay that we still benefit from today. A lot of times, we make the mistake of holding older technology to today’s standards. Of course, the Rumble Pak can’t compare to the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 controllers, but I can promise you that those controllers wouldn’t be anywhere near as good or responsive without our old friend, the Rumble Pak. So quit hating on it so much, would ya? Join me back here in 2 Thursdays when I will make the Statue of Liberty disappear and reappear so fast, you won’t even know I did it.

BONUS: I think you guys deserve a treat. While I was hunting Rumble Pak pictures, I came across this gem. It’s the promo video for Star Fox 64. These videos are one of the things I’m really going to miss about Nintendo Power. Enjoy!