Turning GameCube & N64 Pads Into MIDI Controllers

It’s fair to say that the Nintendo 64 and GameCube both had the most unique controllers of their respective console generations. The latter’s gamepads are still in high demand today as the Smash Bros. community continues to favor its traditional control scheme. However, both controllers can easily be repurposed for musical means, thanks to work by [po8aster].

The project comes in two forms – the GC MIDI Controller and the N64 MIDI Controller, respectively. Each uses an Arduino Pro Micro to run the show, a logic level converter, and [NicoHood’s] Nintendo library to communicate with the controllers. From there, controller inputs are mapped to MIDI signals, and pumped out over traditional or USB MIDI.

Both versions come complete with a synth mode and drum mode, in order to allow the user to effectively play melodies or percussion. There’s also a special mapping for playing drums using the Donkey Konga Bongo controller with the GameCube version. For those eager to buy a working unit rather than building their own, they’re available for purchase on [po8aster’s] website.

It’s a fun repurposing of video game hardware to musical ends, and we’re sure there’s a few chiptune bands out there that would love to perform with such a setup. We’ve seen other great MIDI hacks on Nintendo hardware before, from the circuit-bent SNES visualizer to the MIDI synthesizer Game Boy Advance. Video after the break.

[Thanks to Chris D for the tip!]

2 thoughts on “Turning GameCube & N64 Pads Into MIDI Controllers

  1. I’ve done the drum thing with all the Rock Band sets that are staying to pile up in dumpsters due to new console incompatibilities. Although, I implemented the midi interface in software simply converting the controller button inputs to midi outputs using Glovepie (an old dead project that I believe was hacked to distribute maleware or some other virus). Back then, I didn’t really know how to code to access those APIs directly but the low sample rate of USB input and midi, sending it through another script parser had negligible impact in the DAW.

  2. I can’t remember what program it was but 10 years ago I tried. It worked, but too much lag to drum or strum. That’s my idea of MIDI, not pre triggering loops on a looper. The drum pad set is still around here somewhere. Get the lag down and I might be interested.

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