Thursday, August 4, 2011

An N64 Controller Guide

Let's face it. Every controller ever made for the N64 sucks. All of them either have a weird design or just a design flaw which ends their lives prematurely. Anyway, as I continue trying to hunt down stuff for my N64, I thought I'd organize my thoughts on my potential options with this "Guide to the N64 Controller Shopping". Just for kicks, i'll give each controller a rating while discussing its pros and cons.

First Party Controller by Nintendo

Why not start with the official first party controller? This product, which is produced by Nintendo, is probably your best choice, assuming you can find one new...

Because if you can't find one new, you can rest assured the analog is either very loose or completely broken. Over time, use of the controller wears out the internal plastic used to keep the analog tight. Even if you buy one new, you're looking at this happening to yours within a few years. With that in mind, new Nintendo controllers go for about 60 bucks now, and with time, the price is sure to rise even further.

First party is usually better than third party, and this is no exception. The Nintendo controller is ultimately easier to use than any of the controllers I'll mention from here on out... assuming the damn analog works. Rating: 8/10.

Mad Catz Advanced Control Pad


Perhaps I should increased the size of that image by about forty times, because that small pic doesn't do the thing justice. This controller is enormous! That's the primary flaw. However, there is another flaw, and that flaw is that the analog of controller ultimately breaks off. I've seen this happen to friend's Mad Catz N64 controller, and then I read about the sixty people it happened to who bought one on Amazon. I've used the controller, and I not only hate its size and nonexistent analog, but also the design of its buttons! As bad as aging first party controllers are, this one is just that much worse. 2/10.

SuperPad 64 by Interact (aka Performance)

I used to have one of these. The control has some of the same problems with weird button shape and feel as the Mad Catz Control, but you'll be delighted to hear that the analog works just fine. Heck, I even like the analog's larger size (as compared to the small Nintendo one)!A lot of people complain about the controller's short and fat grips, but they never really bothered me. However, again.. the controller suffers from poor design materials. Instead of the analog button breaking, you're going to have to deal with the Z-button breaking. For most games, the Z-button is less valuable than the precious PRECIOUS analog. So maybe you could even get buy with a Performance controller for a long time if you don't play stuff like Zelda. Rating: 7/10.

Super Pad 64 (Version 2, also by Interact):


People on Amazon claim that this controller has the same Z-button problem as the previous controller, but I never experienced that (although I'm sure it does.. I was probably just lucky!). What I did experience was sticking buttons. Maybe after using the relatively similar Gamecube controller now, I could go back and enjoy using this one. But the design, as you can see, is significantly different from the N64 mainstream. It's actually very usable and everything, but it takes an adjustment for someone who's used to that good ole loose analoged Nintendo controller. Rating: 6/10.

These are all of the controllers I've ever used for the N64, and they're probably the only ones that are any good. Mad Catz and Interact are the "good" third party providers, and neither of them did that well for the N64, alas. There are some really cheap knockoffs on Amazon right now, and based on the reviews I'm steering clear of 'em. On the whole, I'd recommend either one of the Performance controllers, if only because of the durable analog.

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