As we’re sure you’re aware by now the Nintendo 64 has been and gone in retail stores meaning you can no longer get your hands on a fresh console or its accessories fresh off the shelves. However, if you’re still an N64 owner and want some brand new peripherals to go with your console, there are third-party manufacturers who have taken it upon themselves to create some solid bits of kit.
One area in particular that many N64 owners either like to upgrade or replace is their controller whether that’s to get a different layout or to simply replace years old controllers that have certainly had their day. In this article, we’ll be providing you with what we think is the best N64 controller as well as other great alternatives to hook up to your retro console.
How We Choose
In picking out the best N64 controllers, we noticed that there were not only variations on the traditional formula but also varying degrees of quality when it came to the build. Because of this, we got a mix of selections in our top 5 picks, some with more up to date functionality, some being more traditional, and some that are hybrids aiming to give you the best of both worlds. We believe that this will provide you with well-rounded choices and will surely be able to find the perfect fit for your retro console.
Now, without further ado, let’s get into the best N64 controllers.
Best N64 Controllers
First up on this best N64 controllers list is the Retro Fighters Brawler64 Wireless. This thing is probably what N64 gamers of old dreamed of, not only providing you with wireless technology but also a button/joystick layout that’s actually comfortable.
First, let’s talk about that wireless functionality. It utilizes a receiver that you plug into the N64 console itself which also encompasses the memory card slot that you would usually find within the controller itself. The wireless connectivity is pretty flawless due to it being based on 2.4GHz tech and it’ll certainly reach wherever you are in the room.
Moving to the controller layout, as previously stated, it offers a more comfortable experience than what N64 gamers would typically be used to. It mimics that of today’s consoles which is a huge plus for those that have never held an old school controller in their hand. One nice little addition that some may take advantage of is the turbo button which accelerates inputs so you can get the upper hand in your favorite titles.
For charging, it utilizes a USB-C input which is a fantastic addition as it’ll not only charge faster due to it being a new technology, it’s also much more robust than micro USB connections.
If you want a little bit of a different spin on the classic N64 controller but still want a more traditional feel, this Retro-Bit Tribute 64 might be right up your alley. The button and stick layout is close to that of the original but with the d-pad and joystick in switched positions. In terms of size, it is more compact and generally feels more comfortable in the hand when compared to the official variant but that does draw away from the classic feel so that’ll be down to your personal preference.
As shown in the name of the Retro-Bit, this is a wired controller meaning you are going to be tethered to your N64 console. This has both upsides and downsides providing you with a more authentic experience but if you’re not close to your hardware, you can’t exactly kick back and enjoy your games. The cord however is 10 feet long which is pretty fantastic and does allow a decent amount of space for you to take advantage of.
For build quality, it certainly feels robust and has a bit of weightiness to it. This gives it a bit of an overall premium feel and one that can’t be replicated by cheaper alternatives.
If you weren’t impressed by the wireless functionality that the Brawler64 offers or you want a slightly different look and feel, this Hyperkin Admiral could be the selection for you.
First off, it’s a little more compact than the Brawler64 and has a more rounded shape making it feel a little smaller in the hand. The buttons are also a lot closer together which allows for easier control when playing those fighting games. Unlike the Brawler64, there is no turbo button on the Admiral so no speed ups can be found here.
The wireless functionality uses a similar method to that of the Brawler64 with an adapter being inserted in the N64 console. This then allows you to hook your Admiral up and the indication light at the bottom alerts you of the current status. Again, there’s no lag while playing wirelessly which is something that would impact control-intensive titles like Diddy Kong racing.
A big plus over the Brawler64 is that the wireless dongle actually allows you to back up your game saves. Yes, it has the memory card slot and looks almost identical, but there’s another slot for a micro SD card which can secure your save games just in case they become corrupt.
As previously stated in our Retro Fighters Brawler64 pick above, we know that their N64 controllers are fantastic options for those that want a newer look and feel. This variant is almost identical to that of the above but instead of being fully wireless, it is more traditional being fully wired.
The reason why we’ve included this controller even though that it is almost identical to that of the wireless version is that in our opinion, it trumps that of most other controllers manufactured by other companies.
To reiterate the Brawler64’s benefits, it utilizes that newer, more modern button layout with the joystick being located on the left of the controller and the buttons on the right. This certainly aids those that are used to gaming on the latest consoles and who are unfamiliar with the more retro controllers. The build quality is obviously fantastic and it’ll weather those long gaming sessions, even if you are raging at losing that Smash game.
The only real drawback of this N64 controller is that you are losing that wireless functionality which some are wanting in today’s age. However, if you are looking for a more authentic retro feel then maybe this isn’t a drawback at all.
If you want the traditional look and feel of the official N64 controller of old, the iNNEXT Classic Wired Controller could be the exact model for you. As you can see from the product image above, it has the exact layout of the official N64 controller, making it a perfect replacement.
It obviously has complete compatibility with the console itself but there’s also the inclusion of the Rumble Pak and Memory Card slot on the back of the controller which means you can still use those official peripherals with this variant.
In terms of quality, it doesn’t exactly live up to the official Nintendo counterpart but it’s certainly enough to get by and in the price bracket these controllers come in, there can’t really be any complaints.
Things To Consider
Wired vs Wireless
As shown with the different N64 controllers above, you can in fact get yourself either a classic wired variant or a more modern wireless option. When weighing this aspect up, in our opinion, it all comes down to if you want a more authentic experience or not. If you do, obviously a wired N64 controller is the way to go but if you’re wanting more convenience and the ability to sit back on the couch, a wireless controller should be your weapon of choice.
Similar to the wireless vs wired consideration, thanks to advancements in technology and third-party companies creating N64 compatible controllers, there are in fact a number of different controller layouts you can use. As seen with our above picks, you can choose from the traditional layout, the modern look and feel, or a more compact version of the original N64 controller. It all comes down to what you feel comfortable with as the original N64 controller layout is rather odd to get used to, especially if you’ve never held one in your hands before.
What controller do N64 Speedrunners use?
In the main, a lot of speedrunners, who play Super Mario 64 in particular, use the Hori Mini Controller as it allows them more precise actions than another controller. However, in recent times, a lot of speedrunners have moved to the original N64 controller as their weapon of choice due to some advantages it also has. Moreover, the Hori is only available in Japan so getting it imported to another country can be extremely expensive.
Where is the best place to buy N64 controllers?
In all honesty, the best place to buy N64 controllers is Amazon due to the variety of different options on the website. However, if you’re looking for an official N64 controller, your go-to place should be eBay as there are sellers who are looking to pass on their previously used controllers or even some that are brand new.
Is there a wireless N64 controller?
While there were no official wireless N64 controllers ever released, there have been other manufacturers that have developed wireless controllers compatible with the N64 console. The Retro Fighters Brawler64 wireless controller is an excellent choice if you want a wire-free experience to play your N64 games and the model that we would certainly recommend.
In our opinion, the best N64 controller you can pick up in 2022 is the Retro Fighters Brawler64 Wireless N64 Controller. This is due to the fact that it is wireless, offering you that modern functionality and eliminating the need for you to be right next to your console for you to get your game on. It also has that controller layout that is similar to what you’d expect from today’s consoles, allowing you to get accustomed to it nice and quickly.
On the flip side, if you’re wanting a more traditional experience and don’t want the original N64 controller, the Retro-Bit Tribute 64 Wired N64 Controller should be what you opt for. It has the original feel but in a more compact form factor, probably an improvement over the official variant.