Back before the Nintendo Switch, the Wii U, the Wii, the GameCube, the Game Boy, and 5,000 DS skews, Nintendo made the N64, a nostalgic console beloved by many, but a console that didn't sell that well. That said, before the Nintendo 64 released in the summer of 1996, Nintendo was prototyping the system under the name Ultra 64. And it was also prototyping controllers, one of which almost made it to the market. The controller doesn't have a name, and it's pretty similar to the final product, but given that it never came to market means finding one is incredibly rare. However, someone has tracked down the rare controller, and naturally, has gutted it to find out just how different it's compared to the official N64 controller.
The prototype controller was discovered by video game preservationist Shane Battye, who shared his findings on Twiiter via an extensive thread. As you can see via the images below, the biggest difference between the prototype and final product is the prototype has a much bigger thumbstick, which, according to Battye, is much more comfortable to use.
A prototype Ultra 64 controller thread...
It houses a thumbstick significantly different to the final retail version and first appeared in a black and white press release photo alongside the Ultra 64 (#Nintendo64) back in 1995. So let’s ‘crack’ it open and see what’s inside... pic.twitter.com/lj3PhSzOEQ— Shane Battye (@shanebattye) September 21, 2019
If you've ever used a N64 controller, you'll know they aren't the greatest. The controller just doesn't have a great design that lends itself well to many types of games, and the thumbstick always felt unnatural. That said, the thumbstick on the prototype controller does look like it would be more comfortable to use, which makes me wonder why Nintendo opted to scrap it and go with the thumbstick it did.
Perhaps the most obvious difference over the retail design is the thumbstick. It’s broad, shallow cup-shaped and has a circular range of motion with directional indicator markers on the shroud... pic.twitter.com/zam2I1tANO— Shane Battye (@shanebattye) September 21, 2019
Next steps will be trying to play a game and comparing how the stick feels for actual gameplay. It’s certainly much nicer under the thumb at rest but will it stand up to intense gaming?! To be continued... pic.twitter.com/pDbZqx1jOz— Shane Battye (@shanebattye) September 21, 2019
For more news, media, and information on all things Nintendo, click here. And of course, make sure to give Battye a follow if you're into game preservation or just retro gaming in general.
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