Inexpensively Replace A Worn Out N64 Joystick

The Nintendo 64 is certainly a classic video game system, with amazing titles like Mario Kart 64 and Super Smash Bros that are still being played across the world today. But, like finding new parts for a classic car, finding an original controller that doesn’t have a sad, wobbly, worn-out joystick is getting to be quite the task. A common solution to this problem is to replace the joystick with one from a Gamecube controller, but the kits to do this are about $20USD, and if that’s too expensive then [Frenetic Rapport] has instructions for doing this hack for about $2.

The first iteration of using a Gamecube stick on an N64 controller was a little haphazard. The sensitivity was off and the timing wasn’t exactly right (very important for Smash Bros.) but the first kit solved these problems. This was the $20 kit that basically had a newer PCB/microcontroller that handled the Gamecube hardware better. The improvement which drove the costs down to $2 involves modifying the original PCB directly rather than replacing it.

While this solution does decrease the cost, it sacrifices the new potentiometer and some of the easier-to-work-with jumpers, but what was also driving this project (in addition to cost) was the fact that the new PCBs were becoming harder to get. It essentially became more feasible to simply modify the existing hardware than to try to source one of the new parts.

Either way you want to go, it’s now very easy to pwn your friends in Smash with a superior controller, rather than using a borked N64 controller you’ve had for 15 years. It’s also great to see hacks like this that come together through necessity and really get into the meat of the hardware. Perhaps we’ll see this controller ported to work with other versions of Super Smash Bros, too!

6 thoughts on “Inexpensively Replace A Worn Out N64 Joystick

    1. Some of the after-market sticks are (were?) quite good, in particular the GC-styled sticks, but recently they’re all rubbish with erratic readout values and very low life expectancy. And no 3rd party stick was ever as good as the original

  1. So a joystick something something, and a new PCB. I don’t get it. Did people originally just transplant an analogue stick mechanism from a Gamecube pad to an N64 one? And then the pad’s electronics didn’t work well with it, so a new special board has to be spliced in somewhere? That’s what I’ve guessed at from this. Off to follow the links, but it’d be nice to fill these things in, in this article.

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