Evolution of the N64 Controller

Today’s post comes from Stevesesy on ThoseGuys.tv!

The N64 controller is one of the most iconic, revolutionary, and strange controllers of all time. Sporting 10 buttons, three handles, a D-pad, and an analog stick, this controller will confuse the hell out of you the first time you pick it up. However, if you think the final design was strange, then you are going to be in for a shock when you see the prototype.

Shown at a Canadian trade show sometime in 1995, this was the original idea for the Ultra 64’s controller. The Ultra 64 would later be rebranded the Nintendo 64 after some legal scuffle. From this prototype we can see that the N64 controller had its roots in the controller design of the SNES. This prototype looks just like it just with an extra row of buttons, no select button, a joystick in the middle, and 3 horribly photoshopped “things” hanging off of it.

At some point the design development of the N64, they decided to go with something edgy, dark, and foreboding. They took their original design, made is smoother and made everything black, the color of the mid-90’s.

Oh man, that is so beautiful compared to the first design. This second design is nearly the same as the final. There were differences such as the controller stick being larger and more delicate, the shoulder buttons were smaller, the buttons weren’t smooth on the sides, and the monochrome color design but all-in-all this was a solid design choice for the time and they stuck with it. The even had a wicked, dark, edgy logo to go with it.

The next version of the controller still didn’t quite get it right. For some reason, they chose to drop their dark, monochrome and choose grey. Why?

So close. They added some color and changed the analog stick a little bit but I feel as though this was a step in the wrong direction. The design before this one was simply badass. This is design is like my washed-up uncle. Sure he’s wearing a few colorful buttons but he’s aging and greying and not in his youth anymore. That and my parents won’t let me be left alone with him.

After this they shrank the analog stick down to skin tearingly small and called it a day.

Ta-dah, we have the final design. I like it. I really do. Sure, the grey is off-putting but Nintendo knew this and offered 72 different controller colors and designs (good luck collectors) and a lot of their other colors are truly beautiful. The final design is iconic and I’m glad they stuck with it before trying to reinvent it and shrinking down the analog stick to the size of a syringe.

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  1. Symphony_Of_The_Dragons 21 September, 2012 at 00:12 Reply

    i don’t get why no one liked it…. im PRETTY SURE you weren’t meant to use ALL the buttons at once (including the d-pad) AT ONCE.

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