source.png

Key characteristics of an OEM stick/what to look for when buying one

 

Shape of stick

 
 
5rzb1T7.png

*Make sure the stick looks like this. You can easily spot a GameCube replacement.

 

Branding to back of stick enclosure

 
2I19Jhd.jpg

*OEM N64 sticks will have this painted branding on the back, HOWEVER, I have seen sticks with no branding or just marker pen. However, 90%> it should have branding on the back. fyi some backs are full black and not grey and the branding rubs off very very easily.

 

Connectors to controller board

 
kbFrbB6.jpg
N64-controller-disassembled.jpg

*Please consider the blue connector and the overall design of the inside of the controller. As you can see above, the boad actually can have a different layout depending on version, region and time released. However, the ink brandings on the boards is a tale tale sign of a legit N64 controller (Image source: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/620159811161441150/ and https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:N64-controller-disassembled.jpg)

 

10/10 stick deadzone examples

 
4nU7V33.gif
ezgif-2-68e57669ef8b.gif

*credit to Shiva and Repo for these. Example of good deadzone (10/10) and bad dead zone

 

Internal wear displayed externally

 
4SBuhTB.png

*Example of internal stick wear that is displayed externally. Dust in the bowl will kick up during play or if the controller is turned upside down. An easy to spot visible sign that the bowl and gears have worn down. Scratches from play can also be seen in between the grooves above stick housing.

The box/packaging It comes in

 
OoM5sKx.jpg
SZHuLfp.jpg
BxZKaoI.jpg

*this can differ for different regions, Please see above for examples

 

How to source a stick

 

Version 1 Update: We are currently in the midst of a massive retro video game bubble. Getting reasonably priced decent controllers is proving more difficult. Especially sealed, non-used controllers, boxed controllers. As more people get wind of any media regarding the retro video game market increasing in value, they try and sell… very high for subpar stock.

If people haven’t watched Karl’s video on the state of the video game market, it is very insightful and gives a bit more context as to why retro games are suddenly costing way more than they should:

 
 

Remember when buying controllers, games or accessories. If it’s too good to be true, it is. Scrutinise the ad and the person selling it. Also send money via BACS or Paypal (These can be tracked and reversed/disputed if a sale goes wrong). And if you are truly unsure ask the communities you are in, other gamers can give a fresh view or spot something you may not have seen. Also, when it comes to controllers, unless you know the person or the person selling has a sterling reputation, it’s still a bit of a gamble as photos only do so much.

Just be smart people and you won’t get burned.

 

eBay

 

eBay is a great resource for new sticks, however, be prepared to pay top dollar for decent sticks, especially if they are coming from overseas. Japan tends to have the best sticks, however there are collectors who will sell their stuff, but will know what they have. So, on the one hand it is an investment, but at least you know what you are getting.

Avoid the term “Refurbished”. The stick may be GC stick or cheap optical/pot replacement. No refurbished stick will be refurbished with like, Steelstick bowls or parts unless stated. And if they say this ASK FOR PHOTOS!

Again, as above: As a rule of thumb, I would never buy a stick unless the seller sends me a video of them prodding the stick lightly.

Avoid sellers that says: “stick is okay/stick is good/a tad wobbly but great condition etc”.

Go for sellers that say: “Box never opened/Stick does not move when touched/It was my sons (husbands/fathers/etc) and they never used it/original packaging/mint etc” Certain phrases like this are a great start.

 

 

Local listings (Facebook Marketplace/Craigslist/Jumble sales etc)

 

I freaking love FB marketplace, so many people fall into the trap of not knowing what they have. Use this to your advantage when looking for primo gear. In addition, if you see a cheap good stick, you can probably cover cost of collection as the seller will just be wanting to get rid.

There is a risk factor, just follow the above indicators for what a good stick looks like and you will be safe.

Again, as above: I would never buy a stick unless the seller sends me a video of them prodding the stick lightly.

Avoid any wobbly sticks as they could be worse than they seem.

Avoid the term “Refurbished”. The stick maybe a GC stick or cheap optical/pot replacement.

Avoid sellers that says: “stick is okay/stick is good/a tad wobbly but great condition etc”.

Go for sellers that say: “Box never opened/Stick does not move when touched/It was my sons (husbands/fathers/etc) and they never used it/original packaging/mint etc” Certain phrases like this are a great start.

Also, speedrunning communities and gaming groups may also be able to help you. For example, the SM64 discord group has a few sellers that sources parts for their communities

 

Retro game stores

 

This is a great bet as they can probably do returns if you’re not happy and most likely won’t lie when you ask if the stick is in 10/10 condition/is it refurbished as if you are unhappy, you can return, like I just er… said.

My main gripe with retro game stores is you will be paying a very high price for equipment that may be okay. CEX (The main buy and sell store for games, DVDs and well everything) in the UK sell N64 controllers, but on closer inspection you can see bowl wear and use. They charge a flat fee for a category of product. For example, a 1/10 Grey controller will be priced the same as a 10/10 grey controller. However, there is no way to know unless you test.

Overall, could be good, could not be good. At least you can probs test in store and get a return.

 

OEM controller alternatives

3rd party replacement: Good tier to amazing tier. 

Version 1 note: In the original version of this document, I avoided looking at these 3rd party/redesigned controllers as they were not fit for use for the Goldeneye community. However, Goldeneye isn’t the only N64 speed game around and I would like to give these a try. I will aim to review these in time, I just need to get hold of them :D

 

Retro Fighters Brawler64 (Not reviewed)

 
 
 
 
 
brawler64-usb-wireless-front-700x700-1.png

*https://retrofighters.com/our-collection/brawler64-usb-wireless-edition-next-gen-pc-mac-switch-controller/

 

Retro-Bit Tribute64 (Not reviewed)

img-9858.webp

*https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2019/04/hardware_review_retro-bit_tribute64_-_a_fine_n64_controller_and_perfect_for_smash_on_switch

 

  • http://retro-bit.com/tribute64-n64-forest-green.html

    • A handy little pad that also has a wireless and USB edition alongside its N64 counterpart. Based of the Hori Mini Pad, but with a more accessible price point.

    • Again, suffers from extended range issues which make it great for some games but not others

 

Hori Mini Pad (Not reviewed)

n64-hori-mini-pad-front.jpg

*https://n64today.com/2017/05/22/n64-hori-mini-pad-review/

  • Considered the “holy grail” of N64 controller replacement, the Hori Mini pad is now a rarity that spawned the 3rd party replacement that is the Tribute64. You can still get these Hori Pads on the 2nd hand market but they are starting to cost upwards to £100 now. This is probably the best time to try and find one as these will only increase in price

  • These are used in Super Smash Bros and Super Mario 64 for bowser throws, usually in conjunction with a switcher box for controller switching on the fly

 

3rd party replacement: Good to... well, trash tier, maybe?

There are a few other 3rd party replacement full build controllers, however, alot of these are strange 3rd party builds, have no branding and are wildly random..... because who knows what's in them lol.

Jokes aside, I will slowly gather these and test them, however most of these are irrel and what's been mentioned in these guides are alot more rel.