A year has past since I decided to buy and test some new controllers for my N64. I was very pleased with the quality and functionality of all three controllers I purchased, with the exception of the crack that developed on the cheap knockoff of the original design. What shocked me, however, was the fact that is the one that has seen the most use. Although I do genuinely enjoy the Tribute and Brawler controllers, I just associate the old trident design with playing N64 games, and that’s something only the cheap knockoff can offer.
The Tribute 64 has seen very little use since purchasing and testing for no other reason than it’s a bit small and the balance being a bit off when a rumble pak is installed. That’s not to say I dislike it by any means, it’s just the other controllers are more comfortable in my hands. Plus, and this might seem like a cop-out, the packaging it comes in makes the controller look really good as a display piece, so I would just rather leave it on display than use it.
Now the Brawler 64 is truly a beast of a controller. It’s rugged, feels great to use, the analog stick is really good, the button layout was well thought out and executed and the balance when a rumble pak is installed doesn’t affect it at all. My only complaint is that my brain just has some weird disconnect with the Brawler 64 and expects me to be playing an Xbox instead of the N64. In the case of the Brawler 64 it’s definitely not packaging keeping me from making this my go-to controller as the box for this controller is completely opaque and I would much rather pull this controller out to observe its beauty from time to time than leave it sitting, or more accurately hidden, inside the box.
And finally we get back to the extremely cheap knockoff that somehow takes the win. Sure, the plastic is cheap and there is absolutely no innovation or changes in design, other than an upgraded analog stick, but I really think that’s why it became my go-to controller. For years my favorite N64 controller was my OEM yellow controller because none of the third-party controllers I own felt right. I think the fact this controller feels most like what I’m familiar with is a major factor in it being used the most. Not to mention it saves wear and tear on my aging OEM controllers. I would rather a cheap knockoff break than any of my original N64 controllers. Speaking of which, that crack by the analog stick really does bother me, but it seems stable, although for how long I don’t know.