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Thread: Which N64 USB Controller?

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    Default Which N64 USB Controller?

    Hi Guys

    I have been wanting to get back into N64 emulation now for a while, but the big issue is the controller. Now I don't have an original N64 controller,and I really don't want to spend the money to buy a refurbished one or just a plain second hand one and hope for the best. Also then naturally I would have to buy a converter as well, which is more money.

    So my question here is what controllers are you guys using for N64 emulation on your PC's and what would you recommend if not going the original and converter way?

    I leaning towards the Retro-Bit Tribute64 controller. I am also looking at the Retro Fighters Brawler64, mostly due to the Dpad being positioned better. From what I have read the macro's on the two C buttons for switching between Direct Input and Xinput on these two controllers are not positioned great for FPS games, which will be a problem for me, if someone has one these controllers, please advise if this really is a big annoyance.

    Then I have also seen those knock off controllers, like the iNNEXT, SAFFUN ect. I would actually prefer the original feel and look, but they all look the same and the reviews on Amazon vary, so I am very skeptical of these ones. I am wondering if they all are not actually the same, they don't show the packaging online and none of the brands have official websites. So if you guys have/use one these, please advise if they get the job done, how long have you been using them and which brand one you are using.

    That is about it, any assistance will be appreciated, sorry for the paragraphs of reading

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    The Tribute and Brawler have USB versions? I thought they were N64 port controllers... maybe I overlooked the USB variants?
    The USB converters aren't overly expensive, mayflash is like $30-35aud or so but there should be cheaper options down to around $20aud or less. All new.

    I have a Hyperkin Admiral (white) which is wireless, the receiver is N64 port and controller paks actually plug into the receiver so rumble shouldn't be used.
    The receiver also has SD slot for saves backup memory pak>SD.
    I was looking at buying one of the controllers you mentioned but the build quality of them isn't great, plus I ended up getting the Admiral on sale.

    Yeah maybe I shouldn't have posted in this thread as I don't emulate on PC. I have 2x real consoles, one is NTSC-J with cart tray modded to play US carts too and the other is PAL (the standard here).
    I have a mix of some real cart titles but not a huge amount atm, all regions. I also have an ED64 Plus (Chinese everdrive clone) flashcart with 2x SD cards running different OS so I can run nearly every title, it's possible that there might be less than a handful of roms I can't play but I haven't encountered any so far. I can also use cheats.

    Unfortunately all 3 of these controllers have drawbacks of some sort, usually it's the "thumbstick" sensitivity which doesn't translate into a solid fps experience.
    The cheaper options are generally poorer build quality overall too.

    Hyperkin Admiral is bluetooth afaik so it should work on PC, but I haven't tried it myself.
    Obviously if you used it that way you would lose the controller pak options as you wouldn't be using the controller with its receiver... unless you ran the setup through a USB adapter. But on PC I guess you probably wouldn't need any controller paks anyway.
    It's a solid controller in my experience, although for fps it isn't the best but neither are the other 2 controllers you mentioned (which are cheaper ad wired anyway). I rarely play fps on N64 though, only now and then, and when I do I can use one of the genuine original controllers I have. I have a few of those plus a couple of the cheap generic knock-offs, but 2 of my genuine controllers are pretty much pristine with as new thumbsticks... one original grey and one atomic purple.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChuckZ View Post
    Then I have also seen those knock off controllers, like the iNNEXT, SAFFUN ect. I would actually prefer the original feel and look, but they all look the same and the reviews on Amazon vary, so I am very skeptical of these ones. I am wondering if they all are not actually the same, they don't show the packaging online and none of the brands have official websites. So if you guys have/use one these, please advise if they get the job done, how long have you been using them and which brand one you are using.
    Of what I've seen of these sorts of knock offs (I haven't tried N64 ones!), while they may all basically look identical, they are not identical. They're made in different crappy factories, using different crappy components. They may well be built off the same schematics, molding, whatever, to the point where you might have trouble telling them apart when disassembled, but they'll all have their own unique issues. So only buy from one type that you'd think reviewed well enough on Amazon, don't hop over to the cheapest one thinking they'll all be the same, it'll be juuuuunnnkk.

    Some random Chinese controllers can be passably usable, but I've experienced some absurd problems with clone controllers. Generally I'd say they're a waste of money.
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    The problem with a lot of the genuine controllers that have been "refurbished" is that the replacement thumbstick is actually the Gamecube type
    If you want genuine the best thing to do is look for a barely used one (eg CiB Japanese). It is still possible to get NOS but they are rarer now and prices tend to get crazy.

    The 2 good ones I have I was lucky to get through work (so 20% off marked price) and tested them before buying (not really important as I can return stuff without any issues), but I waited for like 5 damn years to find those

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    Thank you for the feedback guys.

    @Deadlegion, if I could have found original controllers and converters locally it would have been an option, but due to shipping, things get expensive, especially if I have to pay shipping on both items. Then I am looking at over a 100USD, therefore it really is not an feasible option for me.(I live in South Africa)

    About the USB versions of the Tribute and Brawler, yes they have USB versions. I think the tribute one was released around the same time as the N64 one, not completely sure. The Brawlers USB one is newish I believe, it came out start 2020.

    The Hyperkin,I only quickly looked at the controller. The problem I had with this one is that it is not USB wired. From what I could see, one would have to have a N64 - USB converter to get it up and running on your PC without an actual N64 console. Please correct me if I am wrong, looking at the wireless device it seem one has to plug it into an N64 to get the Bluetooth up running to get it connected to a PC? Please let me know if this is not the case and if one can connect it without an actual N64 or a converter to plug it into a USB port to get running on a PC.

    @Ragnar, I thought this might be case that these knock offs just use the same molds, but the innards are different or different quality joysticks are used. So yes if someone has tried and tested a lot these knock offs, please let us which ones was best and if they have true analog.

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    The Admiral is bluetooth.

    If the thumbstick accuracy is a main priority for you, I mean compared to the genuine original controller, none of these options are going to please you.
    The Tribute and Brawler feel like cheap controllers. All the generic USB controllers feel cheap and even worse. None of them have thumbstick feel 100% like the original controller.
    Original controllers "refurbished" with Gamecube type thumbstick are not 100% like original genuine.

    If price is your main issue then you will just have to settle for a cheap controller. Honestly I don't think either Tribute or Brawler are worth what most places would charge for them. I mean I'm assuming you're buying locally over in SA and you aren't going to get one for less than RRP. You could get 2 or more of the cheap Chinese generic USB controllers.

    Best value for money is a used genuine controller in very good condition, not a Hori because they are crazy prices now, along with a cheap USB adapter.

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    I know most people probably go the original controller route, but I was hoping some people who solely do PC emulation will have some positive feedback about these 3rd party controllers or Chinese generic controllers. The tumbstick is my main priority, but hell it doesn't have to be perfect, I would just like it to be somewhat decent.

    I will be using Amazon, so I will be importing. You can't really find these controllers (original or generic) in retail outlets to my knowledge in SA, there are some SA online shops that imports them, but they charge massive premiums. It is a lot cheaper for me just to pay 20USD shipping myself and get it from Amazon.

    Thank you for your input Deadlegion.

    If anyone else have some comments about what controllers they use for their PC N64 emulation please let me know.

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    The USB Chinese controllers are the same as the Chinese N64 controllers. I have more than 4 of them and they aren't from the same source.
    Tribute and Brawler USB controllers are the same as the N64 versions, the only difference would be any sort of calibration software or whatever but I'm guessing any USB controller has some sort of software tweaking available even if only limited.

    Admiral has firmware updates, it's the same controller if you use it on N64 or PC/Mac and I think you can even use it on Android.

    I can't see the local prices you're looking at. But if the generic Chinese USB controllers are worth half or a third of the cheapest out of either Brawler or Tribute USB I would just get a bunch of Chinese controllers.
    The build quality of both Tribute and Brawler isn't great. I would say 2 Chinese controllers would outlast either of those options.

    Now if you had all kinds of buying options and could possibly get the Brawler for like less than the cost of 2 Chinese controllers then maybe get that. Brawler is wider than Tribute iirc so more comfortable.

    Tribute is small like Hori but the build quality is nowhere even close to Hori and has a Gamecube like stick. This controller is a small design for small hands.

    All these controller options have noticeable dead zones. Even the Admiral has that and that's the best built out of them all.

    There is another one which is the Hyperkin Captain but that's cheaper and I wouldn't bother.

    The only way to get a good stick (one controller for all game types) is a genuine controller or a Hori, but the latter is outrageously expensive and for small hands.



    Edit:
    Actually, I'm not sure why I didn't ask either but why aren't you using a wired Xbox 360 controller?
    It's a cheap solid controller that is used for all sorts of games on PC. Map whatever buttons you need.

    If it's just a matter of not liking the D pad then there's a small fix for that involving a bit of thin plastic (like the clear type used in retail packaging)
    Picked up a used controller with sticks that have been chewed or bits simply coming off? Find a wireless version with battery rot but otherwise looking ok and use it as a stick donor.
    Last edited by deadlegion; 10th-January-2021 at 11:18.

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    The 2x Chinese N64 controllers is sold for 26$ on Amazon, the Tribute for 20$, the Brawler for 33$ and the Hyperkin Admiral for 35$. (USD without taking into account 20$ -25$ shipping)

    One of the things I was looking at as well about these controllers from people using them on a PC was the mapping and the apparently annoying macro input switching of the tribute and brawler.
    Example, the Chinese generic controllers, is it plug and play with Project64 and just mapping the buttons or are their issues and are they true analog.

    About the Admiral, I can't really find reviews about it from people that used it with PC's for emulation. Can you tell me if you connect it via the micro USB - USB connector to your PC does it pick up as a controller? Can one just use a normal Bluetooth dongle and connect it to ones PC and the N64 adapter that comes with has nothing to do with the PC connectivity? If yes and it connects as controller on PC without hassle does Project64 pick it up and there is no issues with button mapping?

    I am beginning to consider the Admiral, it looks like a good controller, it will cost me with shipping 60$, which is really the max I am willing to spend on n64 controller. The question is PC connectivity and if it has mapping issues.
    I already know the issues of Brawler and Tribute, like the start button, where you would need to change from Xinput to Direct input to map it and how they mapped the the macro to change the input to the C buttons.

    The Tribute is still 1st on my list, I don't have relatively big hands so that won't be an issue and it will cost me 40$ in total.

    Xbox 360, well no, I want a controller that is more similar to the original n64. I guess for the nostalgia as well, the C buttons to the right and the A & B buttons to the side of them, it is must for me, otherwise I wouldn't have asked all these questions about generic and third party USB controllers.

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    The Brawler and Tribute aren't like the original N64 controllers though. Buttons yes, but the layout is different. Tribute is like the Hori which isn't the original layout.
    Admiral isn't the original layout either.

    Hyperkin Captain is the original layout.
    But from what I understand it's only slightly better than a Chinese controller... I'm guessing it's just a rebadged Chinese controller possibly with tighter quality control

    I'm not sure if anything is true analogue. Maybe some are but the deadzones are significant so it doesn't really matter.
    That's why I mentioned the 360 controller. It's easy to setup on PC and shouldn't have deadzone issue afaik.

    PS3 could be done I guess, but even used they can be worth a bit.
    From what I understand they aren't as easy to configure on PC. Built in battery, will work via data/charge USB cable though. Bluetooth.
    Maybe a generic wired version would work but those usually have noticeable deadzones.

    The main problem with the Admiral is that it has a built in battery like the PS3 controller. I haven't researched what replacing one entails yet, likely nobody has torn one down anyway they haven't been around very long. Oh and the Admiral does have a significant deadzone, I don't use it for fps I switch over to a genuine N64 controller.


    Edit:
    There are some off-brand PS3 controllers that are ok though, I have a wired Hori FPS which is PS3/PS4 compatible. Nice sticks and build, no motion sensors though. It works really well for fps on PS3/PS4, it has a "tracking" button underneath to slow aiming when you run & gun
    Much, much cheaper to buy new compared to a genuine DS3 (PS3).

    Edit 2:
    Just looked over your prices again, here are some current local store prices including shipping (I'll use usd so it's easier for you)...

    Hyperkin Admiral $60 (I paid less than this when I got mine on sale but there wasn't a colour option, I got white)
    Tribute $35
    Brawler $50 (think I've seen this cheaper at some point but it was probably grey colour only)
    2x Chinese USB controllers $20 (before covid it was possible to get a pair of these for just over $10)
    Last edited by deadlegion; 10th-January-2021 at 14:17.

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    I am only going to use the controller for N64 emulation, nothing else. I have a Ps2 Controller and others, for anything else PC related or for other types of console emulation.

    For the moment I think I am going to stay clear of the Chinese ones, I don't really want the cheapest of the cheap and I don't need more than one, since for moment at least it will only be me playing.

    I looked at the pricing again on my side, looks like the Brawler is through Direct Distributor at Amazon and the shipping will cost less, totaling the price then to 45$ and the Tribute will total to 40$ so I think I am going to with Brawler.

    While I am at it, I think I am going to pick up one of those Retro-Bit Sega controllers, they look very nice and reviews are positive.

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