The Nintendo 64 is the classic system to end all classic systems.
One day I will give in to peer pressure and move the PS1 and Dreamcast into
classics, but until then this is the last of the classic systems. It certainly is not
so old, having been released in 1996. It did, however, mark the end of the
cartridge in video game history (at least for home systems).
Even though its cartridge format was a complaint from the first
day, Nintendo did not suffer too badly from the format's limitations thanks
to good development. The launch was very successful, even though there
were only two games at launch: Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64.
Those two were all it took for units to fly off shelves, and eventually more
great first party games would be released.
Nintendo lost some great allies by sticking with cartridges,
including Squaresoft, Konami, and Enix; all went on to produce games that
could only have been done on the PlayStation, such as Final Fantasy
VII, Metal Gear Solid, and Star Ocean 2. The remaining
third party developers produced mediocre games for the most part, and
the Nintendo 64 only survived on titles by Nintendo and its new best
The controller was certainly groundbreaking, because of its
unusual design. It was apparently designed for gamers who have three hands.
However, the third-hand-challenged gamers could hold the analog and button
prongs and ignore the D-pad prong, or they could hold the D-pad and not
use the analog stick. The analog stick was a new feature of game controllers;
soon after, analog controllers for PlayStation and Saturn emerged.
The N64 controller was also unusual in having an expansion port
in the back. One could insert a Memory Pak or Rumble Pak, Pak intentionally
spelled incorrectly by Nintendo. There was also a Transfer Pak that could
copy savegame data from Game Boy cartridges such as Pokémon.
It cannot be used as a ROM backup device, so don't ask if it can. Memory Paks
were a kind of oddity on the N64; most games had internal save RAM, but a
few required a Memory Pak. It would be less confusing if Nintendo had stuck
to just one save method. Of course, the advantage of using the Memory Pak
is being able to bring it with you to others' houses to use your own save.
Two adapters have been released for the N64 controller.
The Adaptoid is clearly the best one; it works reliably, and has features
that are rare to find on any other controller adapter. For example, it
can be used to transfer save games from a Memory Pak to the PC, it supports
force feedback with the Rumble Pak, it has a keymapper, and it even converts
the round field of the analog stick to a square for the PC (meaning you can
hit all four corners without needing to recalibrate). It was truly a great
innovation. Unfortunately, Wish Tech, the designer of the Adaptoid, has
gone out of business for unknown reasons (they certainly were selling well
enough). They sold the rights to ZTNet who has done two production runs
of the Adaptoid, sold both out within a few days, and has yet to produce more.
They are obviously missing a market because even at $40 the Adaptoids were
selling like hotcakes.
The Adaptoid and Boom adapters.
sells the Boom
adapter, which doesn't have any of the features I mentioned
above for the Adaptoid. All it does is adapt N64 (or PSX) controllers.
The problem is there are apparently two versions of the N64 controller,
and the more popular version does not work on the Boom. Instead you get
erratic behavior. I have tried the method that is claimed to solve the
problem, leaving a PSX controller plugged in, and proven that it does
not work. The only hope is to get another controller until you find one
that works. Since the Adaptoid is no longer being produced, this is the
only option left. There is a PSXPad driver for N64 controllers,
but the interface you have to build is ridiculously complicated.
(The page is a 404 error, but I have a copy of the schematic here.) If any of
you have tried it, please E-mail me
and tell me how it went. Is it more compatible than the Boom?