Controller Reviews

floorcat
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Joined: May 11th, 2006, 12:21 pm

August 7th, 2006, 11:16 pm #1

Alright! At long last, I've finally sat myself down and started this review! Now let's hope I finish it. ;)

So... I'm guessing we can all generally agree, that the official N64 controller works quite well when it's in good condition... in fact, it's perhaps the best N64 controller out there in terms of functionality & feel. Unfortunately, the operative phrase in that last sentence being "when it's in good condition," there's no denying the one flaw that simply can't be overlooked with the official controller... its delicate, easily-worn-out analog stick. We can't really blame Nintendo entirely, though... as analog sticks were practically non-existent on console controllers before the N64 came along.

Anyways, knowing that the N64 control stick wouldn't last forever with extended usage, I had embarked on an on-going quest to find a more durable 3rd party substitute. Sure, the plastic grease answer would slow the degrading process practically down to a standstill, but it wouldn't solve it, so I continued to believe that surely another company would've recognized this problem and provided a sensible solution... a controller with a more durable analog stick with comparable functionality. So what follows are my findings thus far... which will primarily consist of my whiny complaints that keep these controllers from being the "perfect one" (still haven't found it). I've summarized the good & bad points (in relative order of importance) at the end of each review, as well as offered a recommended price limit and my rating of the controller, on a scale of 1 to 5 (in increments of .5)... 1 being CRAP, and 5 being a whole-hearted recommendation.

Here's a quick picture of the 3rd-party N64 controllers included in this initial review... plus an official first-party controller for good measure:
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floorcat
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Joined: May 11th, 2006, 12:21 pm

August 7th, 2006, 11:18 pm #2

Hori Pad Mini



Ah yes, the much sought-after Hori N64 controller. And for good reason, too... as this is an exceptionally solid controller with a very durable-minded analog stick. So well-designed, in fact, that apparently Nintendo had modeled their own Gamecube controller thumbstick after it (or so I've heard).

The Analog Stick - However, this controller isn't without its flaws, in my opinion. Probably my biggest qualm in fact has to do with the analog stick. Though it's durable, rubber-coated, and comfortable, not to mention the #1 selling point of this controller, I find that it's a bit too much on the sensitive side. Of course this may not be too big a problem for most games (particularly platformers, I would think), or even most people, but when I try to do some finely-tuned, on-the-fly aiming in Perfect Dark (one of only two games I've been playing lately), my cross-hairs jump around far too quickly to be an effective "Perfect Agent." Now, I'm not saying I'm "exceptionally skilled" at this game (Elite who?), but when I popped in the official controller out of curiosity after using the Hori pad for a few weeks, things were noticeably easier!! Headshots are now as "easy" as I remember them being 5 years ago!!


(above: the tiny, impotent... D-pad, and a profile shot to see how erect it... errrr... how much it sticks out)

The D-pad - If you think the analog stick isn't as functional as it should be, you'll soon find out that it's not even remotely a problem compared to the D-pad. Of course, not that many N64 games are that dependent on the D-pad, so this part of the review (and every one hereafter) might have no meaning for you. Anyways, just to warn you, I don't think I have anything positive to say about the D-pad... it's too small to use effectively, it sticks out too much (and hence, is uncomfortable), and it's too close to the A & B buttons, so you'll probably end up hitting it with your thumb in the heat of the (button-mashing) moment. You're better off sticking with the official (or any other) controller if you want to use a useable D-pad.


(above: a shot at the dual shoulder buttons)

The Design - Since the Hori controller has a 2-pronged design, you might wonder where they ended up putting the Z-button. Well, the folks at Hori thought it would be a good idea to keep the symmetry of the controller balanced, so they had installed 2 Z-buttons, one under each of the (L/R) shoulder buttons. The way they did this had completely eliminated any "trigger-feel" the first-party Z-button once had... and not only that, but all four resulting shoulder buttons ended up being much too small for my liking. Additionally, since your left index finger is usually on the Z-button while your right index finger usually on the R Button, keeping this custom means staggering your index fingers on the shoulders of the controller, which may put off some people... at least until they get used to it (as I've had to do). I guess you could just have your index and middle fingers both on the shoulder, but to me this feels even more unnatural, partly because this controller is designed so compactly, and partly because I was never good with dual shoulder buttons.


(above: the shoulder button staggering... you can also kind of see how the middle knuckle of my middle finger jams into the chassis)

The Chassis - You've probably already noticed by now that this controller very closely resembles the official one in terms of prong shape and button appearance (minus the 4 shoulder buttons), so you'd imagine it to be just as comfortable as the official controller, right? Well, maybe my hands are just abnormal (not very likely), or maybe it's a result of the compact design with double the shoulder buttons (more likely), but this controller isn't that comfortable. For me, the underside of the front of the controller digs right into the index side of the middle knuckle of my middle fingers. If I were to dive back into the intensity of fighting games I experienced 10 years ago with SFII & MKII/3, I would surely find some pretty tender blisters in this particular spot on both my hands. But I haven't yet received any blisters from this, so maybe it isn't that bad. It's a little less noticeable if you've got both your index and middle fingers on the shoulders, but it's still not a good fit. The rest of the controller feels pretty much just like the official one, though.

Anyways, I've gone far too much in-depth on the problems I find with this controller... it really is an exceptional controller... just not as great as everyone thinks it is.

+GOOD POINTS+
VERY durable (Gamecube-esque) rubber-coated thumbstick
has the "Nintendo" feel
very sexy, compact design
2 Z-trigger buttons

-BAD POINTS-
thumbstick is a tad too sensitive
D-pad works like poo, too small & poorly located
Z-trigger & L/R shoulder buttons are too small &/or don't feel like triggers
not very ergonomic

4/5 - A very good controller, but highly overrated.

US$35 - I know it sells for WAY more, but I strongly feel it isn't worth (and I would refuse to pay) much more than this... unless you're some kind of a collector who doesn't mind over-paying for this kind of rarity. If you find one for this price or less, pick it up... even if you end up not liking it, you'll always be able to sell it & make a profit.
*thinks about selling off the Hori controllers* :P

... and here's some more pictures, 'cuz I know you want 'em. ;)


(Yes, I own more than one...)


(... and yes, one of them is boxed.) </gloating>
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floorcat
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Joined: May 11th, 2006, 12:21 pm

August 7th, 2006, 11:19 pm #3

3D2



Surfing around on eBay late last year, I had stumbled upon the auction for this controller, which was advertised as having a "PSX-like thumbstick" so it wouldn't wear out like the official N64 controller is notorious for doing. BIN was a little over $10 shipped, so I was sold. Upon receiving it, sure enough, the analog stick looked much more durable, and if it ended up working just as well as the first-party analog stick, I would've pretty much had the solid controller I was looking for. Unfortunately, things didn't turn out this way.

The Design/Chassis - The first thing I had noticed, which I had deemed excusable at the time, was the fact that the plug to connect the controller to the console didn't quite fit right. I really had to shove the sucker in there! Obviously, I'd have the same trouble pulling it out from the console. I thought this a little odd, and my annoyance only increased when the controller memory/rumble pak port acted the same way. I really feel they didn't get their plastic molds quite right here. As for the feel of the chassis, it's reasonably comfortable, but the outer prongs feel a little bit too small, and something (or various somethings) about this controller gives it a cheap (i.e. poor quality) feeling... maybe it feels too lightweight or hollow or something. I don't know... but worth a mention.

The Analog Stick - Anyways, moving on to the analog stick, I don't remember it being so horribly awful from the start. It worked reasonably well, and I didn't really notice anything wrong or severely lacking, so I was optimistic that this controller may work after all. However, within a week or two of semi-regular usage (maybe one hour per day, at most), I really began to feel like I had no control whatsoever over any game function that used the analog stick. It basically worked worse than had I been restricted to using the D-pad... there was such a fine line between having Mario do a slow walk, and having him go all-out running. Aiming in Perfect Dark came to be such a frustration... an order of magnitude worse than the Hori pad! Pushing the stick a little wouldn't move your crosshairs at all... pushing it a little more would overshoot your target at least 3 times more than how far you were originally. Basically, fine-tuning with this analog stick is non-existant.

The D-pad - Perhaps one redeeming quality of this controller is its nice, round D-pad. It's nice and comfortable, but its roundness also makes it hard to tell exactly which direction you're pressing. Not a horribly big issue, I think. And for some reason, they had decided to put the start button right in-between the D-pad and the analog stick. It makes it a little easier to press start wherever your left hand is, but it might've been put too close to the D-pad, and one might possibly press start accidentally when using it.

Other - As some companies do, the one that produced this controller had provided turbo & slo-mo functions, but I personally haven't seen any use for this beyond the 2-D shooters of the SNES era. As it stands, I don't look for this in a controller, I don't particularly want/need these functions, and even if they're present, I won't ever use them.

+GOOD POINTS+
PSX-like thumbstick
comfortable D-pad
turbo/slo-mo functions (if you're into that kind of thing) :P

-BAD POINTS-
thumbstick doesn't work well at all
connector & controller port don't fit well
feels a little cheap in quality
outer prongs a little too small
start button too close to D-pad
easily lost "sense of direction" with the D-pad

1/5 - It's possible that this controller works well when brand new, but the fact that it doesn't work after/while using it is a sign of its lacking durability.

US$3 - The fact that I put any dollar value here at all has to do with its novelty. It's rare, but I think it's also crap.


(What a piece of crap.)
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floorcat
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Joined: May 11th, 2006, 12:21 pm

August 7th, 2006, 11:22 pm #4

Madcatz



Just to let you all know, I had picked up one of these controllers from a local game shop, kept it for a week, and then returned it before I thought to take any pictures, so you'll have to make-do with the pic I stole off eBay.

The Design/Chassis - My first impressions of this controller were very positive. It felt and looked like a quality product. The chassis is very ergonomic, and there's even patches of (questionably superfluous) rubber "traction" on the underside of the controller. Even the button-action felt nice... an all-around solid-feeling controller. If I had anything to complain about regarding the design, it would possibly be that the middle prong points downward a little too much, such that your hands feel a little twisted when they're situated on the the bottom and right prongs. Also, the middle prong felt a little on the thick side... it looks narrow from the top-down view, but it's pretty deep. Nothing major, and this probably even made the Z-trigger button feel more like a trigger.

The Analog Stick - To be completely honest, I don't remember how sturdily-built the analog stick was. I want to say that it was completely plastic but built more durably than the official controller's analog stick, but I can't remember this bit all that well. Probably because I had more serious issues with the stick. Granted, I had bought this used, it probably wasn't in the best condition, but it didn't look like it was beat-up at all... in fact, the main reason I picked it up was because the control stick felt new & tight. However, by the second day of using this controller, I really noticed how this controller wasn't able to "zero itself." You know how the analog stick will act as if it's being pushed constantly in one direction if the console was turned on with the analog stick being pushed in the opposite direction? I'm sure you all know that pushing the reset button will fix this problem, as long as nothing is pushing the analog stick. Well, not with the Madcatz controller I had... it always acted as if it still needed to be zeroed... with the cursor/menu selection always inching upwards. So I thought, "Fine, I'll just manually zero the stupid thing myself... I'll hold the stick ever so slightly downwards as I reset the system." That solved that problem... however, it didn't take long to find another... even though sensitivity really wasn't an issue (which has been a big problem with many of the other controllers being reviewed here), the analog stick would act quite oddly when doing some fine-tuned aiming in Perfect Dark (which has become the "standard controller-testing game" by this point). General movement of the cross-hairs worked just fine, but if you needed to hold them slightly in one direction, the cross-hairs would jump all over the place within the distance created from the center of the screen to what you were aiming at... which means NO stealthy & calculated headshots from a distance... very annoying. At that point I decided to return the controller next time I stopped in the shop and get my $$ back. I want to re-state that I had gotten this controller used, so it's possible that, when new, the analog stick might function perfectly. However, the fact that it didn't for me should give at least a little indication of its durability, if this were the case.

The D-pad - Never got around to testing this... sorry. It didn't feel horrendously uncomfortable at first feel, and I imagine it works just fine, but I obviously can't say for sure.

+GOOD POINTS+
very ergonomic design
feels solid
rubber grips
Z-trigger feels very much like a trigger button should
turbo/slo-mo functions

-BAD POINTS-
analog stick is too fidgety (lacks fine tuning!), and doesn't "zero" itself correctly
middle prong is too thick
outer prongs spread out a little too much

2/5 - With exception of the analog stick, a very solid controller. Again, it's possible the analog stick might work like a dream when it's brand new, but the used one I had was the worst I've experienced thus far.

US$5 - Of course, this is a little biased from my experience, and would be higher if I knew mine was a defect or something. Coincidentally, this was the same price I paid (and was later refunded) at my local game shop.
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floorcat
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Joined: May 11th, 2006, 12:21 pm

August 7th, 2006, 11:25 pm #5

SuperPad 64 (by Performance, 2-prong design) (a.k.a. MakoPad 64, by InterAct)



Judging from all the pictures I've seen, I'm almost certain that the 2-pronged SuperPad 64 I have is identical to the MakoPad 64, except that the SuperPad is solid black, whereas the MakoPad is clear. That said, you can probably assume that everything I state below about the SuperPad can also apply to the MakoPad. Just don't come hunting me down if they turn out to be different... because I've never seen/held the MakoPad, I can't say for certain whether or not this is the case. Anyways, on with the review...

So over the past few years, I've always been a little curious about this controller. It had always looked interesting, having a completely different layout and all, but at the time I was quite content with my little collection of first-party controllers, and it wasn't until I began my search for a decent 3rd party controller (and some pretty strong recommendations) that I actually got around to picking one of these up earlier this year. I already told you I still haven't found that perfect N64 controller (in fact, it probably doesn't exist), but this one comes pretty stinkin' close!


(above: a quick, visual comparison of the 2 SuperPad 64 analog sticks... both metal)

The Analog Stick - Let me clear this out of the way right now. I don't think there's hardly anything negative I have to say about this controller's analog stick. It's seriously the best control stick I've come across... excelling in control, feel, AND sensitivity... and yes, I think it's better than even the official first-party stick simply because it's far more durable. First off, the stick is made of metal (with a plastic thumb-cap), like that found in the 3-pronged version (but thicker!), and the plastic pivots at the stick's base (which the metal stick connects to) appear to be plenty sturdy (noticeably different from the 3-pronged version here). Yes, it's true that it has two separate springs (one for forward/backward motion, and one for side-to-side motion) like the 3-pronged version (or so I assume, since I'm currently unable to open it up), but unlike the 3-pronged version, these springs are set at a much more appropriate, less-springy tension... so you'll hardly feel the difference between this stick and the official one. Now of course, the feel & durability of the stick would be nearly meaningless if it didn't control well... and it was this very sensitivity issue that plagues just about all the other controllers I've reviewed here. Fortunately, the control/sensitivity is right on par with the official first-party controller... if you nudge the stick a little, your crosshairs will move a little, nudging it further will move them yet further from the center at a perfect consistency (Wow, what a concept!!). So it should be obvious that fine-tuned sniping was just as easy/difficult as it should be, matching perfectly with the first-party control stick. An EXCELLENT analog stick!


(above: unless you're a whiz at this kind of thing, no analog transplants here) :(


(above: another angle of the unfortunate incompatibility)

Control Stick Compatiblity with the Official Controller - Unfortunately, NO... they aren't (readily) compatible. I can say for sure that there is no easy way to install this superb & durable control stick into the first-party controller. Why the quasi-definite answers? Am I implying that they are actually compatible in the end? NO. I'm only speculating that it's possible... and not without a healthy amount of expertise, time, & energy would anyone ever truly find out. Unlike the DreamGear controller, there's actually a matching number of wires connecting the analog stick to the controller's circuit board (another fact that might show that 6 wires = much better analog control than 4). Unfortunately these wires are all soldered & glued down (in two groups of 3), and not only that, but the plastic analog stick housing is completely different in both shape and size than the official analog stick's housing. You would really need to make your own somehow, or heavily modify the one it comes with in order to make it fit and be secured into the first-party controller chassis. And even then, I'm not sure it would work. So, unless you're an electrical engineer (or just very comfortable with these kinds of things), I would dissolve any hopes you might have on this subject, and just use the controller as it is. Which brings me to my next point...


(above: a handful for the left hand, not so much for the right... also note the middle finger/Z-trigger issue)

The Design/Chassis - If there's anything negative anyone might say about this controller, it would lie here. Streamlining the N64 controller down to two prongs will definitely change the design & layout a bit (as we can also see with the Hori controller), but the adjustment will probably be the most harsh with this controller. With the D-pad, analog stick, L & Z buttons now all on the left side, real estate on this half of the controller becomes a little more precious. That said, you'll notice that your left hand will have quite a handful of controller occupying it, while your right hand will feel relatively empty. This was the hardest thing for me to get used to, but once you get adjusted, this controller works exceptionally well! You'll have access to all the controller functions "on-the-fly"... as there really isn't any problem going from the D-pad to the analog stick, they're both placed in prime spots for your left thumb (in my opinion). Now, what about the Z-button, you ask? It's placed pretty much directly underneath the analog stick, and you now use your left middle finger to press it. For me, this placement works just fine, but I know it may not be ideal nor easily adjusted to for some people. Unfortunately, for those people, I think that continuing to use your left index finger for the Z-trigger may only feel even more awkward. Anyways, about the other buttons... you'll notice that the C-buttons are now practically the same size as the A & B buttons, which I would think is a definite advantage, particularly for certain genres (like fighting games) that use the C-buttons in the same fashion & frequency as the A & B buttons. However, you'll also notice that they're more spread apart than usual, in order to make two even rows of three buttons. This would be perfectly fine in almost all instances, however there are a few games that use (or can be configured to use) the 4 C-buttons just like a D-pad (GE, PD, & Turok come to mind). This spread-out layout makes it a bit harder to move around in those games, particularly doing that "run-strafe" we all know so well. Which is too bad, because that's pretty much the only real qualm I have with this controller.


(above: a profile shot... with the Z-trigger in mind)

The D-pad - And of course, let's not overlook the D-pad. It looks pretty basic, if not on the pointy & uncomfortable side of things, but let me tell you, the D-pad works WELL. As I've stated above, the placement is just fine, and with exception of the official first-party controller's D-pad, I've found this to be the best one! I've not had any blister problems (granted I don't play those long, intense fighting game sessions anymore), and on the whole, D-pad control is very responsive!

+GOOD POINTS+
metal/durable (and VERY functional!) analog stick
immediate access to all controller functions
C-buttons the same size as A/B buttons
D-pad functions better than you would expect
sleek & sexy 2 prong design

-BAD POINTS-
feels somewhat unbalanced in your hands
C-buttons are too spaced apart
Z-trigger used with middle finger

4.5/5 - I really really wanted to give this controller a 5/5 (wholehearted recommendation), but I know that some people would be put off from the 2-pronged design & button layout. The fact that the analog stick is both very durable AND has excellent control/sensitivity/feel puts this controller FAR above the rest! VERY highly recommended... especially if you've got "adapting hands."

US$25 - I could see myself paying up to this much for one of these controllers... they're not that common on eBay, though you could probably snag one for less than half this amount shipped. Well worth it, if you ask me.

Note: There's a "SuperPad 64 Plus" version of this controller as well, where the only difference is that it has turbo & slo-mo functions.
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floorcat
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Joined: May 11th, 2006, 12:21 pm

August 7th, 2006, 11:27 pm #6

SuperPad 64 (by Performance, 3-prong design)



I have the feeling that almost any controller with this design and name (or some permutation of "SuperPad 64") will be identical in form & function, even if they're made by different companies. I believe the (3-pronged) "SuperPad 64 Plus" version is also the same, though it comes in a slew of different colors. I don't know all the other companies that produced it... I think even Radio Shack was one of them. I've recently found out (with eBay's help) that there's at least one other different kind of 3-pronged SuperPad 64, with a noticeably different design, though I haven't had any experience with this one to tell how different the controller actually is, unfortunately. Maybe someday...? Anyways... let's trudge forward with the review...

So if you've ever been looking for a second-hand controller (on eBay or wherever), you've probably seen this one around and have tried to avoid it, am I right? I mean, maybe it's just my homebrew sense of "controller aesthetics" but I've always thought of this controller as FUGLY (a bit more than just "ugly"). It wasn't until after I had acquired the 2-pronged SuperPad that I began to wonder if this one was any good. I knew of at least two different companies that were responsible for bringing us each kind of SuperPad, and knowing that one company (Performance) had made both kinds, I had set out to get thier take on the 3-pronged SuperPad (if, in the rather unlikely event that the same prong-designed SuperPads were different in quality between companies). Anyways, shallow appearances aside, this is actually a fairly decent controller!

The Design/Chassis - "So you've established the fact that the 3-pronged SuperPad is ugly... but does this un-aesthetically pleasing design affect its level of comfort?" Well... yes. But only a little bit. This is definitely the "blocky-est" controller I know of, and you can definitely feel this trait when you hold it in your hands. It's not exactly UNcomfortable, but it could definitely have been more ergonomically designed, as it's pretty thick & bulky. Aside from the chassis, the buttons all have a very stiff "click-y" feel to them. Probably the noisiest controller buttons I've ever come across. Other than these two aspects, the general layout and feel of this controller is basically the same as those of the official first-party controller, so no harsh adjusment is necessary, as is with the 2-pronged version. The C-buttons might be barely bigger than the those of the first-party controller, but any difference is too small to sense any kind of improvement/detraction.


(above [RECAPITULATION]: a quick, visual comparison of the 2 SuperPad 64 analog sticks... both metal)

The Analog Stick - Because of the cheesy design of this controller, I was really skeptical at first with regards to the quality & control of the analog stick. But believing it couldn't be all that much different from the analog stick of the 2-pronged version (especially if they were made by the same company), I began to think that there was a good possiblity that it would be somewhat decent. I was pleasantly surprised... though it's not the same design as found on the 2-pronged SuperPad, the base of the stick is still metal (which likely means... longevity!) and it controlled very nearly with the best N64 analog sticks (first-party included!). However, it wasn't exactly the same as the 2-pronged version... the metal stick goes directly into a plastic base, so I'm a little hesitant to say exactly how much more durable this is than the first-party stick. Unfortunately, the manufacturers had applied an extra 50lbs. of torque when screwing this controller together, so I ended up stripping one of the screw-heads when attempting to take a peek inside, so I won't be able to offer better info until I either drill the screw out, or just get a second of these controllers. It's too bad, because I had also wanted to apply some lubrication in there, since it feels like there's a little bit of friction at the base. This brings me to my only qualm I have with the analog stick... I think it's too tight. At least with the controller I have, the analog stick is significantly stiffer than any other analog stick... perhaps twice as stiff as a brand new first-party stick... so your thumb may actually get TIRED after extended play! These days, I never play for more than an hour or so at a time, so I haven't encountered this problem. You can also notice pretty easily that there are two separate springs used here... one for forward/backward motion, and one for side to side... so holding the stick to the extreme upper-left feels like it could very well take nearly double the force of only holding it to the extreme left or up positions. I really hope there's a way to loosen these springs, once I ever manage to get inside.

The D-pad - Consistent with both the button action and the analog stick, the D-pad also has a very "click-y" & stiff feel to it. It has a decent shape, and works just fine, like most any other D-pads on any controller... however my thumb was actually getting a little tired from less than 15 minutes of gameplay.

+GOOD POINTS+
metal/durable analog stick (with DECENT control!)
feels very similar to official controller (button layout, hand position)
slightly bigger C-buttons? (hard to tell)

-BAD POINTS-
analog stick is too stiff & springy
D-pad and buttons all feel very stiff and "click-y"
feels very thick & blocky
FUGLY

4/5 - If you can get past the stiffness that abounds (or if you've got really burly hands), this would be an excellent controller. It's a little blocky & not the most comfortable controller out there (yes, it's @#$% ugly), but the analog stick has really decent control (again, barring its stiffness).

US$15 - I would say it would be worth it... at the very least in the act of prolonging the life of your first-party controller. Honestly, this controller never goes for this much, since I'm guessing a lot of people have been put off by this controller's "aesthetic qualities"... so if you're lucky, you might even be able to pick up one of these for less than half this amount shipped.


(above: a pic I stole off eBay to show the "other" 3-pronged SuperPad 64 I know of)
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floorcat
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Joined: May 11th, 2006, 12:21 pm

August 7th, 2006, 11:30 pm #7

Dream64



Well, with the rumour thrown around recently on the the GameFAQs N64 board that the metal analog stick from the DreamGear N64 controller can be used as a replacement for that of the official first-party controller, I was very interested, and my curiosity wouldn't allow me to NOT investigate further, to find out if 1) the analog stick from the DreamGear controller worked well enough to warrant using it by itself OR as a replacement, and 2) if it actually is physically compatible with the first-party controller, making it the end-all solution to worn-out analog sticks on first-party controllers. So let me answer these questions for you now. NO. On BOTH counts. Save your money AND your hopes... invest both of them elsewhere.


(above: the base of the analog stick... metal, but not as solid as the SuperPads)

The Analog Stick - First impressions of the analog stick were alright... the base was metal, just as people had stated (albeit a little weaker-looking than both the SuperPads' sticks), and the plastic (thumb) cap was molded VERY closely to the official first-party analog stick. There's even a plastic sheet to protect the control stick "innards" from dust, or anything else that might get crammed in there. Unfortunately, that's about all the positive things I have to say about this. Even though the "springy-ness" of the stick is pretty uniform in every direction (unlike both the SuperPads), there's quite a bit of initial resistance to move it in any direction... resistance that all but disappears once you push a little further. This makes it a little more difficult than necessary to do those fine adjustments (to make Mario walk instead of run, etc.). Couple this with the fact that the analog stick works very nearly as bad as that of the 3D2 controller, and you'll soon be cursing with frustration (recap: "Pushing the stick a little wouldn't move your crosshairs at all... pushing it a little more would overshoot your target at least 3 times more than how far you were originally. Basically, fine-tuning with this analog stick is non-existant."). So... that was a pretty big disappointment.


(above: opening it up to check for compatibility... plastic analog housing very similar, but...)

Control Stick Compatiblity with the Official Controller - Anyways, so in order to complete the assessment of the analog stick, I had opened up the controller to see if it truly was possible to easily install this analog stick into the official first-party controller. Things looked positive at first look, since the plastic housing very closely resembled the bottom of the "analog box" of the first-party controller. Further investigation quickly dispelled any hopes, though... not only were the wires for the DreamGear analog stick glued & soldered down, but there were only four of them, whereas the official N64 analog stick has six wires that connect to the controller circuit board. Perhaps it's these extra two wires that give the first-party analog stick such superior control? Even if the analog stick was compatible with the first-party controller (as in, had the same number of wires and the same circuit board connector), the plastic housing would need a little modification before it could be installed on the first-party controller. The screw-holes were actually quite close to being just right... just a few millimeters of, so you'd need to drill them over a little bit. Anyways, so the DreamGear analog stick was one huge disappointment.


(above: notice the difference in number of wires? Dream64=left, official=right)


(above: another shot of the incompatibility at hand)

The Design/Chassis - Overall, the chassis of this controller feels pretty close to the first-party controller. Nothing exceptionally different... neither good nor bad. In terms of button layout, the only thing different is that the C-buttons are off-set from the A & B buttons on the version I have (there appears to be a different DreamGear model without this offset... among other differences). This might be a bad thing, depending on the player and/or the game, but I haven't had any issues with this difference (too frustrated with the analog stick to notice, more like). The L & R shoulder buttons have an even more exaggerated "click-iness" than that found on the 3-pronged SuperPad, the C-buttons perhaps a little less (but still pretty "click-y"), and the A & B buttons feel similar to squeezing a tube of toothpaste, for some reason. The packaging for this controller (I had purchased it new) states "fully analog, pressure sensitive buttons for accurate response"... but I really, truly beg to differ. Now, I'm not sure if they had meant that the button action works like a throttle, as in, the harder you push, the faster you'll move or whatnot (as in Turok, using the C-buttons). If they had found some way for this to work, that would've been quite commendable, however any extra effort they had put into the buttons had apparently resulted in a marginally LESS-functional end-product! As far as I can tell, the L/R/A/B buttons work just as they should be, but the C-buttons leave a little to be desired... you can be fully pressing them down and not see any effect... it's not until you apply added pressure when they consistently begin to work! Extremely unsatisfactory... especially if you use a 1.2 (Turok-style) control config. in GE & PD.

The D-pad - Finding nothing but disappointment with this controller, I was actually surprised from the D-pad... it was apparently designed straight from the D-pad of the first-party controller though it doesn't stick out as much (hence it's actually a little more comfortable!), and it functions pretty much as it should. If I had to be truly nit-picky, though, I'd say that there's a very slight combination of the main problems found in the A/B & C-buttons... it has a very faint "toothpaste-y" feel, and you might just barely sense a little pressure (non-)sensitivity. But on the whole, the D-pad is by far the best facet of this controller (sadly).

Other - DreamGear had really gone the extra mile and given us a turbo feature with this controller. (Whoopie!) </sarcasm> No Slo-mo feature, as is usually found with turbo features, however.

+GOOD POINTS+
metal analog stick
similar feel to official N64 controller
comfortable (and functional!) D-pad
turbo function

-BAD POINTS-
analog stick is too sensitive/jumpy... also too much initial resistance
"pressure sensitive" C-buttons are NOT helpful in any way
C-buttons are offset from the A/B buttons

1.5/5 - Since this controller came to me brand-new, I knew the issues I was looking at had nothing to do with being a piece of used hardware. Even if I could install the analog stick into a first-party controller, I wouldn't, since it would be tainting a good controller with a CRAP stick. It looks like there might be a different model of this controller, but I'm ever the more skeptical of its quality/compatibility. As far as I can tell, the GameFAQs posts were utterly deceptive lies.

US$5 - Unfortunately, I had paid twice this and then shipping through eBay. Well, at least my financial loss is everyone's knowledge gain.


(above: here's a pic I stole from some online video game store... I wonder if this version has a compatible/FUNCTIONAL analog stick?) <_<
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floorcat
Elite
Joined: May 11th, 2006, 12:21 pm

August 7th, 2006, 11:41 pm #8

SO... that about does it for now... hopefully this proves useful. :)

I suppose I might add more reviews later, as I acquire other 3rd-party controllers... but I'll warn you, that might not be for a while, since there's a pile of 'em here already that I need to get rid of.

So how many controllers do I have now?? Too many. Here's most of them:



I know I have at least two first-party grey controllers packed away somewhere, two more 2-pronged SuperPad 64 controllers ('cuz they're pretty good... ya know...), and a fishing controller too.

So which controller do I use? Well, the 3D2 controller, naturally...




... to wipe my butt. :lol:




In all seriousness, I primarily use the 2-pronged SuperPad 64. I'm well-adjusted to it now, and the minor issues don't amount to that much for me... and I preserve my first-party controllers to boot!

But let's re-visit that first picture so I can offer you my order of preference:



Ignoring the issue of durability, I'd use these controllers in this order, from left to right, then top to bottom. The top two rows should be grouped separately from the last row, since I would never willingly use either the Dream64 nor the 3D2. Ever.

And oh yeah... of course anybody should feel free to add thier review of or input on any 3rd-party controllers not included here... well, heck, everybody should feel free to review any controller, first-party OR 3rd-party, included here or not! You can also post to let everyone know if I've totally dissed your favorite controller or undeservingly praised your least-favorite... just be sure to say why you think so!
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BetaWolf
Senior Member
BetaWolf
Senior Member
Joined: June 17th, 2006, 1:11 am

October 4th, 2006, 9:14 pm #9

Sharkpad Pro

Price - $29.99 (new, years ago)
Manufacturer - Interact
Features - Turbo and slow

Design and feel: First of all, look at it. Just look at it. It alone looks cool, the reason me and my brother bought it together so many years ago. It's got clear plastic, showing off the lusterous chip on the inside. There's two black plates around the buttons, which go towards preventing from making the surface too plain-looking.

It is significantly thicker than the standard controller, which can be an advantadge if you've got big hands like me. The handles seem to fit my hand really well, in spite of the outer two being angled slightly outward. None of the buttons are uncomfortable to reach. It's got an overall different design than the standard, yet is in no way unfavorable. Arguably, it's got an even better design.



One of the biggest things is that the controller is made out of a very smooth plastic. This compared to the Nintendo controller is like the pavement on your street compared to the pavement in your garage (if you have ever roller bladed, you'll know what I mean).

Score: 4.5/5 (sweet :P)

Control and response: It works every bit as good as the N64 controller, with just a few significant flaws.

-The dpad is unbalanced. It leans towards the top-left diagonal when pressing either up or left, and you have to click it in noticeably harder when pressing the down-left diagonal.

-Won't work with the rumble pak. If you like to fish on Zelda, or can't play Goldeneye or Perfect Dark without it, this controller is not for you. It'll go in, but the C buttons, the Start button, and the dpad will not work. It does work with my memory pak from Performance though.

-Control stick responds when on an idle tilt. You know how the standard control stick will tilt when it is worn. This one has an extremely minor, slight idle tilt. Bond moves slightly forward on Goldeneye when this happens.

But a lot of that is minor when you consider how few games require the use of the dpad, that the rumble pak is optional, and that the control stick won't tilt unless you are holding the controller awkwardly. From what I've experienced, these flaws are entirely dismissable.

Score: 3/5 (normal)

Control stick: As far as I know, it does not wear. I've owned it since at least 1997, though I've used it much less than my other controllers. Other than that little issue I discussed, there's no problem with it. It's got a small groove on the center that allows you to grip it, much like the grooves on the Gamecube controller's shoulder buttons.



Score: 4.0

Overall: As I have said, it's definitely worth checking out. The flaws are extremely minor compared to what it's got to offer: An awesome design, a good control stick, and acceptable control. Definitely worth checking out if you ever see it. In all, I'd give it a 4.25, above average.

Images:
Controller back
JadeYoshi from GameFAQs.
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BetaWolf
Senior Member
BetaWolf
Senior Member
Joined: June 17th, 2006, 1:11 am

October 4th, 2006, 9:22 pm #10

The Rock: 64 Bit

If you see this controller, treat it like you would any other rock - skip it!
Price: ???
Manufacturer: Naki
Features: None

Design and feel: Holy ****, where do I start? You can see the problems already: the square top, and something else which is just ridiculous. Let's see here:



Near the bottom of each handle, there is a hump, which becomes an obstacle while even trying to grip it. There's no way to get around it, except to only hold the controller without your pinky and ring fingers. It looks pretty much like they ripped the handles right off Nintendo's controller and gave them blisters.

The R and L buttons are on the back of it in the same sense as the Z button. This is the main reason I bought it, I thought that was cool. However, putting your index fingers on the back of the controller will ensure that the square corners will dig into your fingers. Had they mounted them on top, your index fingers would be above those corners and therefore that wouldn't be a problem.

Oh yeah, and another thing. Upon further inspection, I noticed that in the top few screwholes on the back, they didn't even bother to put in screws!!! This includes the screwholes for the controller pak slot.

The only redeeming value that the design has is the main action buttons. They are completely flat, smooth, and easy to press. It feels really good to press them.



Score: 1.5 (Awful. Almost my worst score.)

Control and response: They could have made up with it here, but guess what? It works even worse than it feels. It's the worst functioning controller I've ever owned in my LIFE.

The day I got it, the control stick pulled to the right for absolutely no reason. My character on Mario Kart would just go up against the wall. This was when it was factory fresh. Guess how it works these days?

I tried putting it in again. As with quite a few 3rd party controllers, it wouldn't go in, as the plastic had expanded and it was too big. I got a "no controller" error of course.

Next time, I got it to respond. But guess what? It actually made my game, 1080 Snowboarding, freeze. First at the N64 logo, then at the main menu, then somewhere else. I can confirm that the controller was the cause, since I tried it with my Sharkpad afterwards, which of course worked fine.

Score: 1/5 (Garbage the day I got it.

Control stick: The last nail in the coffin. Not only did it pull right the very day I got it, but the design is bad. It feels alright to move around, but take a look.



You can just barely see it, but there are 8 little dots in the middle, in this form -
::::

Had they not had that, it would have become a hindrance to grip it correctly. However, since they did that to provide grip, you've got 8 little tiny dots digging into your thumb. No way anyone thought that this was a good idea. The only excuse possible is that Naki thought that blind people played the N64 and put something on it that means control stick, if :::: even means that in Braille.

Score: 0/5 (Unusable the day I got it)

At least it's not false advertising. It was aptly named "The Rock", and that's all it is. Something that does nothing but take up space. It was so half-arsed, and it's obvious that it is. Do not buy this garbage.

Overall: 3/4 of a point/5 (Compare the pros to the cons)
JadeYoshi from GameFAQs.
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