REVIEW – Retrobit’s Wireless Hypermode N64 Controller

A Product Review by Greg Dabkey

2013-07-16193930_zpscca63fb5
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • reddit

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?

Handling/Design

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.

Use

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.

Conclusion 

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

+ Wireless
+ 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

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • reddit

About the author:

Greg’s gaming hobby started with the NES when his grandma purchased it for Christmas one year. He started with Super Mario Brothers with Duck Hunt set and Super Mario would become the first game he beat. From there he continued gaming with the SNES, Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, Game Cube, Nintendo DS (original, Lite, DSi), and then was a first week Wii owner. Most recently he games on the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Wii U. His favorite series include Mariokart, Legend of Zelda and Metroid. His genres of choice are action/adventure, RPG, puzzle/strategy and platforming. His life long goal of going to E3 was achieved in June 2013 and hopes to return in the future.

Greg has been blogging for NintendoFuse since November 2011. He started off as a knowledgeable contestant for the Ambassador Tournament, and was asked to jump on the team. Currently, he enjoys writing game reviews and occasionally sharing news with the fans and readers. You will also find him on the forums as the Event Moderator.

Greg – who has written posts on NintendoFuse.


  • jungerman

    I’m also experiencing issues with the joystick. It has a real problem staying centered, and the sensitivity can be a problem. I played Donkey Kong 64 with it as well, and I found that it was nearly impossible to cross some of the platforms when using this controller. There is a HUGE dead zone in the middle of the stick, where it can just flop around with no resistance at all. On top of that, the point where you get out of the dead zone and start feeling resistance on the stick isn’t even where it starts to register movement. Getting resistance on the stick without movement is a big no-no.

    I actually opened the controller up to take a look at the internals and get a general assessment of quality, you can see that in the images below my comment.

    In the first image, you’ll see an image of the controller’s main board. The epoxy glob and wiring that looks like a sheet of twisty ties isn’t exactly something I like to see when I just spent $30 on a product. I was hoping to integrate a wireless rumble pak via a separate RF transmitter, but this makes that job a lot harder.

    Second image is the controller’s 2.4GHz wireless transmitter. Possibly of interest to note the copper wire soldered on to the trace for the antenna – possibly a late-production move to increase range?

    Third image is the top of the receiver. Similar chip for the wireless receiver. Nothing too interesting here.

    More glob tops on the back of the receiver in the fourth image. Something of interest is the collection of headers on the right side of the chip. Possibly for QA testing or programming, perhaps someone else would know more?

    Note that putting the controller back together is no easy job. The switches you see in the 5th image are the ones on top of the controller, and the plastic nubs that sit on these switches fall off very easily. With a very light coat of superglue on the inside of the nubs, it’s easy to fit back inside the controller and close up.

    This teardown didn’t reveal much. I was hoping to find an easy place to hook into the rumble pak, but to no avail (yet).

    Also, one more thing about this product – it isn’t great at first impressions. In the last image, you can see that the label on the bottom-right of the front of the package is actually a sticker, and is attached upside-down. This was likely added at the last minute, due to a design change.

    Sorry for hijacking your post, but I thought I would give my two cents.

    • Gamer_Greg

      Thanks for your input… no you didn’t hi-jack it. The insides look quite interesting. It was weird, I demoed the unit at E3, and didn’t have this problem. So I wonder if their latest design change has caused this. You are right, you don’t want to pay $30 for a controller that can be hard to use, but as I mentioned in the review, I found a temporary work around. I was able to navigate the 3rd and 4th worlds in DK64 without much issue. Perhaps it’s more severe in other cases.

  • Bodom420

    Where could I go to order one of these?

Shares
Share This