A Product Review by Greg Dabkey
Product – Retrobit’s Wireless Hypermode N64 Controller
Version – N64
Price – $29.99
Obtained – Review copy courtesy of Innovations
The N64 launched back in 1996 and over fifteen years later there is now a new controller for the console. Will it be able to hold up to the controllers of today or will it be cast aside?
The controller holds up incredibly similar to the stock N64 controller. While holding it in my hands (and not looking down at it) it can be difficult to identify it as a third party controller. The buttons and layout of the controller is identical to the stock controller. The main addition is the hypermode options above the start button. The player can toggle between turbo and auto where the difference is holding down the button to trigger turbo pressing of that button. Auto assumes the button is continually pressed without any action from the player. The controller weight is very comparable to the stock controller, so it should not feel significantly heavier or lighter than what the player was accustomed to. A battery pack is inserted into where a memory card would go on the stock controller. A memory card slot is on the receiver that plugs into the controller port for use with that particular controller.
One honorable mention is that it does not have rumble built in. However, since this wasn’t implemented as a permanent feature of a controller till the GameCube generation, this is a non-issue as fewer games use the feature since it was a pack that plugged into the back of the controller for the Nintendo 64. It cannot be plugged into the receiver for obvious reasons. The receiver plugs into the console and has the same connector that a stock controller has. When I met with Retrobit, they had informed me that the joystick issue has been corrected with this design. Previously on the stock controller after excessive use of the joystick, it would have trouble staying in a vertical position. Since I haven’t had an excessive amount of play time with it, I’m unable to deny Retrobit’s claim.
Since I only have two N64 games at the present time (don’t worry I’m trying to expand it again, after previously selling them off). For the most part the controls handled perfectly. I noticed while playing Donkey Kong 64, that at times it seemed like the joystick might stick just slightly off-center. If I wiggled it in circles for a few seconds, it would reset the position. However, if you are trying to cross a narrow gap or make a tricky jump, or stand still on a small platform, or even attempt to use the Kong’s gun, you could see the character or cursor moving ever so slowly in a particular direction. I had noticed this on every play session (meaning different days/times). I was able to adjust to counter it and fixed it when I needed to by using that workaround. This may be an non-issue since the controller may not be fully broken in and the controller stick is just a little stiff.
I had no problem syncing the controller to the receiver, nor had any sort of lag issues while playing the game. I tested the range within my house and I can get it work at least 15-20 feet or so. At E3 the rep told me it could go up to 30 feet, but I wasn’t able to test that in a more realistic environment. In terms of the battery life, so far it hasn’t really drained a whole lot from what I can tell. I can further update this post when the batteries die. However, there has been numerous days worth of the batteries being idle and unused. I would also update this post if the joystick issue becomes a non-issue. To date, I’ve had 3 multi-hour play sessions in a 10 day period and haven’t noticed an issue or had to replace the batteries.
I thoroughly enjoyed being able to use this N64 controller. It is definitely worth having despite the possible issues since the consoles of today are connected to an HD TV that is not five feet in front of our faces. It is now closer to ten feet if not further away, and the last two generations of video games have had wireless controllers. This controller fits right into the mold of society and allows gamers to be able to play the N64 from a safe distance from the TV. The controller is designed and shaped to be as close to the stock controller as possible making it an excellent choice for a third party controller. I would recommend this to anyone that still enjoys playing their Nintendo 64 and those seeking a brand new controller for their console.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
+ Has hypermode options
+ Feels authentic (like an official controller)
+ Excellent range
+ Easy to sync
+ Reasonable battery life (so far)
– Non-rechargable battery (batteries also not included)
– Issue with joystick not always centered while using