Prototype Ultra 64 controller found

Earlier this week, Twitter user Shayne Battye (@shanebattye) posted a series of tweets detailing how he came across a prototype Ultra 64 controller. What this means is that this is the model that Nintendo was originally going for but then change to the version that we all know and love.

Right from the get-go we can see a a lot of differences from the retail version:

  • The main difference is the joystick, it has both a different stick and base.
  • The Nintendo logo at the top now has a depressed area, similar shape to the logo panel in front of the N64 console
  • D-pad ‘circle’ is flat, rather than curving inwards
  • A and B buttons have their letter aligned to the right rather than left
  • The C-buttons are also different in a few ways:
    • The buttons are placed in a rhombus configuration rather than a square
    • The shape of the buttons is rounder, more dome-like compared to the more cylindrical shape of the retail version
    • There is no ‘C’ label in the middle, nor is there a circle connecting the buttons.
  • The buttons are all in a greyscale. This is likely due to the Ultra 64’s branding being much darker than the colourful Nintendo 64 branding we know today.
  • The Z-trigger is round and light, compared to the dark and rectangular retail version.

Connector

The prototype controller for the Ultra 64 also has a strange connector that isn’t used in the Nintendo 64. It’s an RJ11-style Registered Jack, typically used for telephones and the like.

The normal development kit for the N64 used what’s called a Joybus adapter which allows developers to connect retail controllers to a workstation, so this would have been what they used before the connector was even finalised.

PCB

The PCB is very similar to the retail version. I suppose that the button configuration and overall shape is still the same, so it makes sense.

Joystick

The joystick’s exterior is very different from the original. The stick itself has a much wider top, and is missing the ‘ribs’ on top. The only other controller I’ve used that looked like this was on the Phillips CDi, and it slipped all the time… It was horrible.

The circular ‘base’ is also different. On the retail version, it’s an octagon , with each point representing 45° change. I wrote more about the joystick here. In the prototype, it was completely circular, with cosmetic lines every 30°.

Is the Ultra 64 controller prototype better?

Most of the people replying to the tweet think that the prototype joystick is better, but I think the retail version is better than this prototype, mostly because of the joystick. It looks extremely slippery, as if your thumb is going to slip off every time you change direction.

Well, it also helps that the retail version can actually connect with my console.

Articles across the web

Shane Batty came across this Ultra 64 controller prototype. Let's have a look at how it differs from the official retail Nintendo 64 controller.
Article published on N64 Squid

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