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Games Retrospect

How to Effectively Repair a Nintendo 64 Controller?

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Around ten years ago, I got a Nintendo 64 for pretty much nothing. It came with a bunch of games and that afternoon, me and my cousin had a lot of fun playing Quake 2 and Super Mario 64. But as soon as I took it home and spent more time with it, I noticed that the joystick were pretty much broken and you really need to push them for them to work. I'm aware now that that's a common problem with those controllers (that a lot of people hate and a lot of people swear by,) but is there any way to fix them? I remember opening them up with my dad, cleaning every part, trying to figure out what was wrong with them and so on. That took hours and they're still pretty much unusable. I know there are replacement parts on eBay, but I also know that they are pretty poor quality and suck. Should I get one of those anyway? Should I clean them again? Should I get "new" ones? Anyone who has some experience with them and is willing to help let me know what you think. Thanks!

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The Brawl controller is pretty good. It's not laid out the same, and so I find it...not good for d-pad heavy games (those being some of the best games on the system, the AKI wrestling games) but for analog stick heavy games? Good controller.

 

https://retrofighters.com/#home

They don't ship to my country, so that's sadly out of the question. It looks amazing though.

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The best solution when it comes to the original controller is to just find another one that is in good shape. It's kind of a crapshoot when buying online, but it is what it is. There's unfortunately not much you can do to fix it outside of replacing the stick with a Game Cube style one, but even then it's not an ideal solution (the GC stick is much more sensitive, so it makes playing many analog-heavy games on the system difficult).

As an aside, in my experience the N64's analogs last fine, assuming you aren't living off of games like Smash Bros or Mario Party that expect you to waggle the stick like a mad man. For those games it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a spare controller with the Game Cube replacement stick in it, then keep a controller with a good original stick in it on the side for everything else.

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Yeah the sticks on the 64 are nothing as bad as people make them out to be. I used the same controller for YEARS (yes years) with no issue. It really is a case of what games you play or like. God help you if you just HAVE to play some stick destroying game like Mario party, but most other games are fine.

Most people that had issue with 64 sticks, I've often notice also have pretty much destroyed PlayStation and Xbox sticks too. Maybe they just have some sort of death trip on the things?

Unfortunately, you can't just buy a new controller, or count on a used one being in good condition, so something like a cube stick replacement is the only real option, unless you have some nos, or lightly used personal sticks.

I even had to replace mine, I had two original ones, and a third party, but 20 years has taken It's toll. I love the new sticks, don't know if their legitimately more sensitive than the originals, or I was just used to the originals being broken, but their just an easy plug and play part and I love them.

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There are a multiude of strange DIY fixes for the N64 joystick floating around the internet. I've seen fixes that use tape, glue, epoxy, ball point pen tubes, RC car washers, and toffifay boxes. Sadly, there is no consensus as to one 'best' way to fix the sticks, as the design itself seems to be flawed- the friction caused by using the stick wears away the parts, thus causing it to become loose. All the repair methods I've seen involve adding more material to replace the worn away parts- but eventually whatever you added will wear away as well.

 

So what does that mean for you? It means do whatever you think sounds best- Frankenstein a good stick from parts of several others. Buy a replacement. Try one of the DIY techniques. Invent your own, even! Honestly, I'd just google it and start watching videos to see if any technique sits better with you than another.

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Austin nailed it, the best still sadly is another OEM stick either spare parts or likely on a for sale controller that's used (or new but ugh that price.)  They are very well made, but only to a point.  They were not designed to take that hard core grinding circles and hard back and forward a panicked session over time Mario Party will do to them.  It grinds down the plastic cradles inside making them wider so it gets all loose and floppy to eventually the point of where it hits the sensitivity threshold and just drifts on its own.

 

You can get aftermarket N64 sticks, but they aren't as nice, or you can graft the GC one in there but as he said, not a great solution as they're more sensitive.  Best option either find a good original, or get that modern controller that fighting pad looking thing that was kickstarted. I usually locally bump into a few N64 controllers each year and I end up keeping them on occasion but usually pass them onto others who end up hitting a wall.  I have one left, it's an atomic purple one.

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I actually have a very good solution for the worn-out analog sticks on the controller. buy a couple of those cheap $5 replacements on eBay. Generally they wear out right away but if you disassemble the analog stick and grease it up really well it'll be smooth as butter and it'll work for a very long time.just a heads up they are rather tricky to take apart and reassemble. If Nintendo Greased the original ones better they would last much longer too as there's too much friction in there and they wear the plastic down without Grease.

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I have found that they are not quite as comfortable as the original but they are really close and work almost as well once they're greased. Just use white lithium grease that comes in a small tube I can generally be bought at electronics stores. Edited by vintagegamecrazy

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