In the vast history of game controllers, the N64 stands out as a sore thumb. Its eccentric three-pronged design was bizarre even for 1996, especially when compared to the relatively simple PlayStation controller.
Still, the pitchfork-like pad is fondly remembered today, which is perhaps why Nintendo decided to re-release it as a wireless controller for use with the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack layer list of N64 games.
That’s right, if you’re a subscriber to Nintendo Switch, you can buy (if stock allows) a wireless N64 controller that mimics the design and feel of the original. And while it’s not a perfect 1:1 recreation, it’s a great way to experience many N64 classics on the controller they were meant to be played with.
N64 Controller for Switch: Pricing and Availability
The Nintendo 64 Controller for Nintendo Switch can be purchased exclusively from My Nintendo Store for $49.99 / £39.99. The only prerequisite is that you are logged in with your Nintendo Switch ID linked to your account. This is because purchasing the N64 controller for Switch requires you to sign up for the Nintendo Switch Online service.
That’s just the first hurdle, however, just like Nintendo’s other retro offerings like the NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis/Mega Drive controllers, the wireless N64 pad is routinely sold out. You can pre-order the controller to be delivered upon availability, but it’s never clear when Nintendo’s online store will have them back in stock.
N64 Controller for Switch: design
The N64 controller for Switch, unsurprisingly, bears a striking resemblance to the old pad. The colored buttons juxtapose well to the slate gray controller, and its shape, while certainly odd, has a unique charm.
There’s no official information about the battery life, but users of the keyboard claim it lasts over six hours on a single charge. However, this might be a very conservative estimate as the Switch Pro Controller can easily last up to 40 hours before the battery runs out.
If you’re not familiar with the N64 pad, the new wireless controller is identical to the original model, with large A and B buttons, plus four directional C buttons, the uses of which vary from game to game.
The big red “Start” button can’t be missed, nor the prominent analog stick that juts out from the center of the controller, just above that weird middle pin you’ll be holding in your left hand.
The top of the controller is flanked by L and R shoulder buttons, although most N64 games won’t even use the L button by default, as your hands will be holding the center and right handles for general gameplay. However, many games support left-handed control options, which is where this three-pronged design shines, even if it’s a little underused.
Hidden on the back of the controller is the Z button, which by default your left index finger will be on top. Like the C buttons, using the Z button will change from game to game, but prominent uses include “Z-targeting” in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora’s maskas well as to fire weapons at GoldenEye 007 or Perfect Dark.
N64 Controller for Switch: Features
The N64 controller for Switch is wireless, which means that, just like the excellent Nintendo Switch Pro controller, there are no cables to deal with. In addition to the included USB AC cable, you’ll need to charge the controller, of course.
The controller also has vibration support and, like the N64’s Rumble Pak add-on, will work for certain N64 titles on Switch, such as Starfox 64. The functionality is a step above what we normally expect from these controller re-releases, but we’re glad that Nintendo went further and included one of the most unique features of the N64 controller at the time.
Another great feature is the ability to use the N64 Controller for Switch as if it were a Pro Controller. This means that you will be able to use the gaming pad outside of the N64 collection of the Expansion Pack. But keep in mind that your mileage varies here, as the button layout and various buttons differ between the N64 and Pro controllers.
The N64 is wirelessly connected to your Nintendo Switch console in the same way as the Pro and Joy-Con controllers. This means that once the controller is paired, you can use it in both docked and handheld modes.
Do you need to buy N64 controller for Switch?
The N64 controller for Switch is a novelty and as a result is purely ancillary to the experience of playing N64 games on the console via the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack level.
Having the pad is good, of course, for those looking for a more authentic N64 experience on Switch. After all, the button layouts between the N64 pad and the Pro Controller differ significantly, which can make certain games a little difficult to play. This is especially true for any game that makes liberal use of the C buttons.