Forums - Nintendo Discussion - The N64 Controller's Tri-Handle Layout Revisited From a Modern Perspective

I went through a few YouTube videos the other day comparing controllers.  Sadly, for each of them was a brain dead reviewer complaining how you they don't have 3 hands and can't reach the D-Pad and who obviously never played on the N64.  Personally, I found the N64 controller to be the most comfortable controller I've ever held.  I'll always miss the Z-trigger and wish it could come back.  But alas.

One thing I can't argue, though, is that the D-pad and L button didn't see much use.  I think the only game I ever used it extensively was Doom 64.  However, now a N64 layout makes a little more sense, doesn't it?  Back in the 32/64 bit era it was all about ugly polygons and 3D graphics.  It's a prime reason why it's easily my least favorite generation.  2D platformers went from the dominant genre to near extinct in the space of a year and the N64 was no exception.  Off the top of my head I can only think of Nintendo itself releasing only released Yoshi's Story and Kirby 64, though I might have forgotten one.  In the end, the Tri-handled layout didn't amount to much more than a legacy of idiotic YouTubers.

Fast forward to 2018 and the market is totally different.  All consoles are flooded with games where D-Pads are often the better option as they're just faster and more responsive than an analog stick.  This works well for Sony as their lousy controller layout has always had the analog stick in the secondary position making it default worst controller every generation for almost 25 years (fight me) and now their dumb decision at least helps with some games.

However, Nintendo and Microsoft have the D-pad in a secondary position.  It's functional, but not optimal.  And here's where the N64 controller was ahead of its time.  If released today (naturally upgraded with modern bells and whistles), I would probably use the D-Pad grip in a solid 1/3 of the games I possess.  The option of a simple and comfortable D-pad-centric grip has merit and would fit in beautifully within modern gaming.  I know that if I could use the N64 controller with the recent Mega Man demo, I would choose it over my Pro Controller without a second thought.

It's just unfortunate circumstance that the N64 tried it 20 years too early because as wonderful as the N64 controller was when it was released, its unique design would be a revelation today, fixing one of console gaming's biggest problems.



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The N64, IMO was a nice fresh concept with some very fresh feeling games. The PSX also felt very fresh with it being the first console to really use an optical disk medium in an effective way - the best it had been used for before were somewhat terrible interactive adventures that often used live recorded footage. As much as I liked RPGs before, there is no denying that Wild Arms, Suikoden, and Final Fantasy 7 showcases the next level; and if your tastes are like mine, Suikoden 2, FF Tactics, FF8, and Xenogears took it a two further. On the N64 side, Mario Kart 64 and Goldeneye 007 gave a nice glimpse of the future potential of multiplayer: expanded on by the really good wrestling games and more.

And now I’m ranting like an overtired madman who should have been asleep for hours...

I won’t call it the worst, but IMO the least enjoyable generation was the 128... I had a Dreamcast first, and most of the big experiences were done on that console first... and IMO best: Skies of Arcadia was the best RPG, Sonic Adventure the best platformer, Soul Caliber the best fighter, etc. Mostly everything on PS2 felt a little done by the time it came out... Gamecube was worse for me because I found Nintendo’s core franchises to all be less fun/creative than their first stab at 3D on the N64. I hate to sound negative... the PS2 generation DID offer the GTA games, which I know many here didn’t like, but I had a blast. I have to admit, I did spend most of the ten playing games on previous consoles and handheld.

Anyway, since I commented on a side part of your post for two paragraphs, it’s only fair I address the N64 controller: I liked it, BUT...
I damn near went through nine of them! I still have some extras unused because I knew if I wanted to play the thing in the future that all controllers had a lifespan. I never dreamed that they’d have something like the virtual console just one generation later... PLEASE BRING IT BACK NINTENDO! Anyway, I think the controller - while a good first attempt - should have:
A. added a second analog stick.
B. made more durable analog sticks

And the Switch doesn’t need a 3 pronged controller since even the N64 typically just used one prong or the other. They just need a classic style Joycon with that beautiful N64 style d-pad (NEVER AGAIN should they bring back that brutal, filthy, disgusting Gamecube one).



I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.

I'm failing to see how a single analog stick is even remotely more viable than what we have today.



Jumpin said:

I won’t call it the worst, but IMO the least enjoyable generation was the 128... I had a Dreamcast first, and most of the big experiences were done on that console first...

128, what?



--::{PC Gaming Master Race}::--

Jumpin said:
And the Switch doesn’t need a 3 pronged controller since even the N64 typically just used one prong or the other.

Well, that was basically my point.  If the game was better played with an analog stick, you had a nice comfortable controller in which the analog stick was centrally located.  If the game was better played with a D-Pad, you still had a nice comfortable controller in which the D-Pad was centrally located.  It's a best of both world's concept.

It's not whether you can do both at the same time.  It's the versatility of having both options available without losing anything or one being much more comfortable than the other.  The N64 just happened to be the generation where such versatility had the least utility.

twintail said:
I'm failing to see how a single analog stick is even remotely more viable than what we have today.

That's not within the scope of the topic.

Last edited by NightlyPoe - on 13 September 2018

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Loved the N64 controller. That z-trigger was perfect considering N64 brought shooters into the console market and they were a major genre for the system. And the N64 controller brought a lot of modern innovation that we take for granted now - the idea of trigger buttons which has morphed from the z-trigger to just triggers directly behind the shoulder buttons, also brought rumble feedback, and of course the analog stick. I don't think N64 controller would do well now though. Two analog sticks beats one, and being able to use d-pad or analog stick without having to switch between prongs is better, although usually either the d-pad or the analog stick needs to be position awkwardly to make this happen.



Pemalite said:
Jumpin said:

I won’t call it the worst, but IMO the least enjoyable generation was the 128... I had a Dreamcast first, and most of the big experiences were done on that console first...

128, what?

 

The Dreamcast was said to be a 128-bit console.not for long tho as people didn't care about bits anymore by that time. That was the last time we heard "bits" when discussing new video game consoles



I never grew up with an N64(I have played it though). It was always a weird system to me. Nintendo did a good job with their games on using it but when it came to third party game it always felt "off". Like the game had to adapt to the controller rather than the other way around. Also out of all the Nintendo controllers, it was definitely the weirdest controller. If you look at the controller evolution from NES to GC. It seemed like the N64 controller was out of place.

Anyway I think the controller worked best with 3D platformers and rail shooters like Starfox.



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killeryoshis said:
I never grew up with an N64(I have played it though). It was always a weird system to me. Nintendo did a good job with their games on using it but when it came to third party game it always felt "off". Like the game had to adapt to the controller rather than the other way around. Also out of all the Nintendo controllers, it was definitely the weirdest controller. If you look at the controller evolution from NES to GC. It seemed like the N64 controller was out of place.

Anyway I think the controller worked best with 3D platformers and rail shooters like Starfox.

if you stop at the GC that means you're comparing it to the NES, SNES and GC? The NES / Master system choice to go with a rectangle of pain was something I could never understand even at the time, it just so clearly should have been rounded off at the edges, they served no purpose other than to inflict pain.

But yeah if you compare it to basically the SNES and GC pads then the N64 one does stand out.... most certainly doesn't stand out when you add in the WiiMote or the WiiU Gamepad though, those things are far less traditional controller than the N64 could ever have hoped to be.



Fancy hearing me on an amateur podcast with friends gushing over one of my favourite games? https://youtu.be/1I7JfMMxhf8

NightlyPoe said:

I went through a few YouTube videos the other day comparing controllers.  Sadly, for each of them was a brain dead reviewer complaining how you they don't have 3 hands and can't reach the D-Pad and who obviously never played on the N64.  Personally, I found the N64 controller to be the most comfortable controller I've ever held.  I'll always miss the Z-trigger and wish it could come back.  But alas.

One thing I can't argue, though, is that the D-pad and L button didn't see much use.  I think the only game I ever used it extensively was Doom 64.  However, now a N64 layout makes a little more sense, doesn't it?  Back in the 32/64 bit era it was all about ugly polygons and 3D graphics.  It's a prime reason why it's easily my least favorite generation.  2D platformers went from the dominant genre to near extinct in the space of a year and the N64 was no exception.  Off the top of my head I can only think of Nintendo itself releasing only released Yoshi's Story and Kirby 64, though I might have forgotten one.  In the end, the Tri-handled layout didn't amount to much more than a legacy of idiotic YouTubers.

Fast forward to 2018 and the market is totally different.  All consoles are flooded with games where D-Pads are often the better option as they're just faster and more responsive than an analog stick.  This works well for Sony as their lousy controller layout has always had the analog stick in the secondary position making it default worst controller every generation for almost 25 years (fight me) and now their dumb decision at least helps with some games.

However, Nintendo and Microsoft have the D-pad in a secondary position.  It's functional, but not optimal.  And here's where the N64 controller was ahead of its time.  If released today (naturally upgraded with modern bells and whistles), I would probably use the D-Pad grip in a solid 1/3 of the games I possess.  The option of a simple and comfortable D-pad-centric grip has merit and would fit in beautifully within modern gaming.  I know that if I could use the N64 controller with the recent Mega Man demo, I would choose it over my Pro Controller without a second thought.

It's just unfortunate circumstance that the N64 tried it 20 years too early because as wonderful as the N64 controller was when it was released, its unique design would be a revelation today, fixing one of console gaming's biggest problems.

Hola!

If you wanna spend a little cash you know you can do just what you talk about here, go pick up a

https://www.ebay.ie/itm/Raphnet-tech-N64-controller-to-Wii-Gamecube-adapter-with-vibration/261822630924?hash=item3cf5d84c0c:g:~HMAAOSwDFNWEx5A

along with a

https://www.amazon.co.uk/GameCube-Controller-Adapter-Nintendo-Wii/dp/B00RSXRLUE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1536813626&sr=8-2&keywords=switch+gamecube+controller+adapter

and play away with your N64 pad on the Switch.



Fancy hearing me on an amateur podcast with friends gushing over one of my favourite games? https://youtu.be/1I7JfMMxhf8