3rd Party N64 Controllers on Parade
A lot of people to this day bemoan the N64 controller. They sound very similar to this: “Wahhhhhhhhhhhh! Something was different than the norm and it frightened me. WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!” Truth be told though, while not perfect, the N64 controller really changed things for the gaming world. Many of the concepts from that controller went on to be repurposed and improved upon in the consoles that have come around since then. Recently, though, I was reminded that even back then, people must have been whining about the controller albeit much more quietly without the internet because there was a host of 3rd party N64 controllers on the market. Most of them were either mutated versions of the stock controller, or totally unusable knock offs. This week, I thought it might be fun to reflect on the 3rd party mayhem.
Mad Catz Advanced Control Pad
This is a picture of mine. I still own it. Doesn’t work too well anymore but it served me well for many years. The D-pad was total crap but the thumbstick stayed tight much longer than the stock N64 controllers. It had the turbo button which was nice but it also had a slow button and I never figured out why that was useful. I mean, it did give the controller design a nice symmetry but other than that… eh. It was one of a long line of MadCatz products for the N64 including everything from steering wheels to rumble paks, to RF cables and I would definitely say I got my money’s worth out of it.
This is not the last Super Pad you’ll see in this post, but it is noteworthy. One of the major points of contention for the Nintendo 64 controller has always been the 3 handles. “Well I only have 2 hands.” Fine. Here is a controller that you can hold with one hand so you can use the other one to whine and bitch about it on the internet. Having not actually used this one, it is hard to say whether or not this would have actually been better to use than the old upside down trident, but it is really intriguing. Also intriguing to me are A and B buttons being closer in size and location to the C buttons. That I don’t think I like. Makes it seem too much like a 6 button Genesis controller.
Hori Mini Pad
This one is kind of neat. Generally mini pad is synonymous with commercials that inexplicably always run while you’re eating, but in this case it is a 3rd party controller that was actually licensed by Nintendo. Much smaller than the stock N64 controller, it too disposes of the embattled 3rd handle and moves the stick to where the D-pad resides on the stock controller. Seems like a perfect setup except where did the Z button go? What a good looking question. What they did was, made the L and R buttons super skinny and then put another super skinny button under each of them that both serve as Z. Not totally unlike the way the Gamecube controller does it but the way it is done on this controller makes it tough to distinguish in the heat of the moment, especially if you have played with the traditional Z button for all of these years. Additionally, the D-pad in the center may seem hard to reach, but remember that the controller itself is much skinnier.
InterAct Super Pad 64 Plus
Remember how I told you that you were going to see another Super Pad? I am a man of my word. This one tried to take everything special and unique about the N64 controller and dispose of it. Sort of like a villain in a super hero movie that can’t stand what the world is becoming so he is determined to return it to a simpler time. This controller was designed to be more like a traditional controller, almost reminiscent of the SNES controller and it does look like it would be pretty comfortable to hold. You might be asking where that pesky Z button went to. It is underneath the thumbstick. This one suffers the same issue for me as the first Super Pad where the A and B buttons are too close and to similarly sized to the C buttons.
Nyko Alpha 64
What an interesting idea here. Dual analog sticks for the N64. This will go great with all of the games for the Nintendo 64 that were made to support a dual analog controller. Oh, right. There aren’t any so you’re dumb, Nyko. In addition to the idea itself being dumb, I want you to look at something. Look at how friggin far those sticks are from where your hands will be. No one is going to be able to convince me that this is comfortable. Then, there are those damn buttons again in Genesis formation. No, this one is not for me. Not at all. Peddle your wares someplace else, Nyko.
Performance UltraRacer 64
This seems like a good one to end with. Obviously, with a name like UltraRacer 64, it is meant for racing games and nothing else but still. Look at it. How am I possibly supposed to use the C buttons while I am steering with the pedestal upon which they rest? Also, if the racing game used Z as the gas, how then am I supposed to work this thing? I like the idea in concept but honestly, was the N64 controller THAT difficult to use for racing games? Even if you used one of these other 3rd party offerings, it had to be better than this thing. Fun post script, they also made one of these for the PS1.
There you have it. I didn’t even get into this gem because really, what can I possibly say about it that will convey it better than the photo? What about you? Have you used any of these? Do you have another one you’d like to share with the class? Sound off in the comments and let’s hear those 3rd party N64 controller stories.