I’m going to use the new N64 controller on PC and you can’t stop me

During this week’s Nintendo Direct, we found out that N64 games would soon be playable on Switch via Nintendo’s online subscription. More importantly, we found out that Nintendo are making a new wireless N64 controller for use with the Switch.

You can connect the Switch Pro controller to PC with or without a wire, so it stands to reason I’ll be able to use this new N64 controller on PC too, right? Because if so, I’m gonna.

I loved the N64 controller. Its middle stem fit my palm perfectly, it had a great D-pad, its Z-button was perfectly placed and satisfyingly clicky, and it introduced me and the world to the analogue stick.

The best thing about the controller was that it seemed perfectly designed for the games released on the N64 console. Nintendo have always been good at making hardware and software which feel as if they’re working hand in glove (except for the Nintendo Power Glove). I’ve played Mario 64 with several different controllers since, and it has never felt as good when not on an N64 pad. It therefore makes perfect sense that Nintendo want to recreate the controller so people can play those old classics as originally intended.

That’s not where my interests lie, however. I have very little appetite for playing Ocarina Of Time again. I imagine there are some emulation enthusiasts who feel differently, but that’s not me.


A picture of the newly announced wireless N64 controller, which looks a lot like the old N64 controller. Also pictured: some Mega Drive trash.
The newly announced wireless N64 controller in its box. Also pictured: some Mega Drive trash.

Instead, I’m interested in using an N64 controller to play modern games. In particular, I want to use it to play the range of modern games clearly inspired by N64-era Nintendo. You can’t tell me, for example that Yooka-Laylee or A Hat In Time aren’t going to be instantly 15% better if played with an N64 pad.

“But aren’t those games going to be designed for more modern pads,” I pretend I can hear you say. Sure, but this new N64 controller being an official Nintendo release all but guarantees it’ll be adequately supported one way or another.

Thing is, you can technically already use an N64 controller on PC. You could either buy a Hyperkin adapter and use the original pad, or you could buy one of several questionable appropriations. But it’s going to be an exercise in frustration to actually use any of these in any modern game.

If you hook up a Switch Pro controller to a PC, however, then Steam will offer you configuration support. You can map the buttons on a per-game basis, or download profiles from other users. Or if you boot up games in Big Picture mode with the controller connected, you’ll get over-the-game remapping features. It might not be as convenient as if the developers officially supported the controller themselves, but it works. It’ll work.

I loved the N64 controller so much that I was surprised years later to discover that other people did not. Those people have been griping again since the Nintendo Direct. That’s fine. Ship all the N64 pads directly to me, Nintendo. I bet Spelunky will feel great on it.

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