Peripheral Vision: Third-party Fire Orange N64 Controller
Ever since I bought and reviewed Retro Bit’s Tribute 64 I’ve wished they made one in the fire orange color. Sadly, they do not, although an orange version was part of the 2019 color poll on their social media — and it lost.. to Classic Grey! So what is a person to do when they’re too cheap for their own good? Go to Amazon and buy a third-party controller in the exact same color to tide them over until they can find the genuine article. I could have purchased the OEM fire orange controller, but for under half the price I chose the third-party option so I didn’t have to worry about spending all that money on a controller and getting one with a worn out analog stick.
I’m just going to guess all third-party N64 controllers that look like the OEM controller are probably coming out of the same factory and just being branded differently, so I bought the cheapest one I could find. Once it arrived I plugged it into my N64 and immediately noticed that the plug slid in like a normal N64 controller, as opposed to the Tribute 64 which took a bit of force to press in and pull out of the console. I also noticed the oblong oval Nintendo used for their logo is still embossed into the controller, but there is no logo within. I have seen this on many third-party N64 controllers in the OEM shape, but the controller would do just fine without it. It would feel wrong for a third-party brand to use this for their logo, so I think it should be removed entirely. Just my two cents.
This controller feels pretty much how I would expect a brand new N64 controller to feel, with the plastic’s texture being more pronounced and not worn down from years of use, like my used controllers. In terms of durability it seems durable enough for normal use, but I wouldn’t dare torque it too much or spike it on the floor in a fit of anger. This controller is definitely NOT as durable as a real N64 controller. For some odd reason the A and B button’s edges are slightly more sharp than the OEM buttons, but all the buttons do have a crisp and satisfying pop when they’re pressed down. When compared to a genuine N64 controller they’re approximately the same weight.
The analog stick is where this thing shines. Compared to even my best OEM N64 controller this thing is absolutely amazing. Very smooth, seems very precise, although I’m used to used N64 controllers, and it always returns to 0 when I let it go, with no wiggle or wobble. Upon close inspection it seems the analog stick is actually metal covered in plastic to make it look and feel like the original analog stick. I don’t know what the insides look like, but analog stick technology has come a long way since the N64, so I’m hoping this thing holds up for many years to come.
I truly wish this was an OEM controller, but for what it is I think it’s $15 well spent. The orange color of the translucent plastic, I think, is absolutely beautiful. My only real complaint is the plug being grey plastic instead of matching like the OEM controllers do, but even then it’s really just a minor nitpick. Currently I don’t see any down sides for this controller, but if any do arise I’ll be sure to add an addendum to this review and make them known. Until then I think this has become my go-to N64 controller, allowing my OEM yellow to take a bit of a vacation during my current N64 game stints.