New Controllers On Old Nintendos With USB64

The Nintendo 64 made a big splash when it launched in 1996, not least of all for its innovative controller. Featuring a never-before-or-since seen trident design, and with an analog stick smack bang in the center, it changed what gamers expected from consoles from that day forward. Of course, those controllers are now much worse for wear, and technology has moved on somewhat. The latest development from [Ryzee119] aims to rectify this somewhat.

The result of that work is USB64, a tool designed to allow the use of USB controllers on the Nintendo 64. Using a Teensy 4.1, it builds upon earlier work to get the Xbox 360 controller working on the platform. However, the feature set has been greatly expanded, covering almost any use case imaginable. Mempacks are now efficiently emulated, and save files can be backed up to a PC via SD card. Additionally, the GameBoy Transferpak is emulated, meaning data can be transferred between GameBoy ROMs on an SD card and games on the N64. Even the N64 mouse is supported, and can be emulated with a regular USB mouse. Capable of doing all this for all four players, work is ongoing to increase the number of compatible aftermarket controllers for the utmost flexibility. [Ryzee119] also coded up a useful test ROM for the N64, which is invaluable when debugging controller hardware.

Console controllers take a lot of punishment, particularly from serious gamers, so we’re always eager to see projects that allow modern replacements to be used with old hardware. We’ve featured other great projects in this area before, too!

13 thoughts on “New Controllers On Old Nintendos With USB64

  1. The oddball trident design was supposedly so the game developer could use 3 possible hands arraingements: left on D pad and right on buttons, left on D pad and right on analog stick, or left on analog stick and right on buttons. AFAIK all games used analog stick and button primarily.

    The XBox and Playstation (starting with PSOne Dualshock) were better overall for being able to access both digital and analog sticks. Nintendo wisely went that way with Gamecube using 2 winged design with both sticks on one side.

    Good idea in theory, not very well supported in the end.

    1. “not least of all for its innovative controller. Featuring a never-before-or-since seen trident design”

      Yup, “never-before-or-since” sort of invalidates the “innovative” descriptor.

      I hated the n64 controller. When my pc-less friends wanted to play 007, I hated being stuck with that controller when I could have been playing something with a mouse and keyboard. Let’s hope it stays in the past.

    2. Actually it worked quite well and I’m sad it still isn’t used today. The trident design gives you a good grip and good ergonomic support regardless of if you are using the analog stick or d-pad…. something modern controllers lack. I could play MK Trilogy with a fantastic d-pad and a 6 face button layout or play goldeneye with the analog stick and both worked equally well. The d-pad on most controllers today is kind of like an unused appendage and often performs poorly with fighters and other 2d games.

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