Its been a while since we have seen any new anything for the Nintendo64 but today we have something new. Retro Fighters launched a Kickstarter campaign last year to produce a much more ergonomic controller for the old console.
The original N64 controller was always a stinker to me. The three-handled hydra of a controller was always an ergonomic mess even though it was incredibly innovative for Nintendo. Today I find it hard to go back to playing any N64 games because of the terrible controller.
Since then other companies have tried to launch better designed controllers. One that has become incredibly popular lately is the small by better designed gamepad for the N64 from Hori. The problem is they have become incredibly popular and as such incredibly expensive commanding prices of anywhere from $80 to $120 CAD.
Retro Fighters said they have a solution. For $30 bucks they have designed and produced a controller that feels about the same as a Wii U or the Switch’s pro controller.
Looking at the controller, all the buttons are here. The C buttons are a little larger making them a bit closer together. The D Pad is also bigger. One of the biggest differences is the lack of a central Z button. This makes sense since this a more traditionally designed with two handles. It instead has two Z buttons. One on the left and one on the right under the L and R buttons. They feel really good. All the buttons feel really good. You have an additional two buttons on the controller as well – A turbo and a clear button for the turbo. A nice addition.
Perhaps the biggest and nicest addition or change is the new analogue stick. It’s a Gamecube style stick with a nice feeling rubberized top. The movement feels good as well. There is one caveat however and Retro Fighters has addressed this in it’s latest mold. There is some interference with the L button when the analogue stick is pushed up in to the extreme top left position. In my experience playing games this doesn’t seem to affect gameplay but it does feel awkward when playing. For Kickstarter backers they are releasing a replacement part to fix this issue.
The controller also has the auxiliary slot for the memory card, rumble pack and other accessories that were designed to hook into the controller.
The controller feels really good in the hand and perhaps the best thing about this controller is the fact that I don’t get any thumb cramps like I did with the original N64 controller.
Would I recommend this controller? Yes absolutely. Retro Fighters has said that the mass produced versions and even the recently announced clear controllers will all ship with the fixed part installed so there is no button interference. The controller is also good value for the price. I have since ordered three more through their current Kickstarter and look forward to getting them when they ship.
Retro Fighters has also mentioned that they are thinking about releasing a USB version of the controller to allow PCs and other USB devices to use the controller.
Keep up the good work Retro Fighters. Looking forward to what you can do in the future.