Games have to be controlled with something, whether it’s a mouse and keyboard, a good old joystick, or a modern, two-stick gamepad. In the first of a new series, we’ll look at some of the weird, unwieldy, or just plain bad controllers used by gamers both young and old.
Today, let’s talk about the Super Pad 64.
It should come as no surprise that this was a third-party controller made for the Nintendo 64. It was manufactured by InterAct.
InterAct was a company that took some, uh, creative liberties with their controller designs. They were definitely trying to innovate, which I admire, but I wonder how on earth they even came up with it. Also, it appears to have two nearly-identical cousins called the Super Pad 64 Plus and the MakoPad 64. So somebody thought this design had staying power.
Unlike the standard, vaguely M-shaped N64 controller, the Super Pad 64 has not even a weak semblance of symmetry.
When I first laid eyes on it, my first thought was, “Geez, was this made by an abstract sculptor or something?”
If you stare at this thing for too long, your eyes are liable to ride the outline of it like a rollercoaster. Your brain might try to hold it before you do to see if any sense can be made of it. But in spite of its strange appearance, it isn’t too out-of-the-ordinary.
So let’s jump into some specifics.
The analog stick and D-pad are both on the left, and the control pad is the one in the top-left, which is not an unusual design at all. In fact, after the introduction of the original DualShock controller for the PlayStation, this placement became one of the industry standards.The Super Pad loosely conforms to the layout of the N64 controller, but things are bunched much closer together since the middle handle has been cut out.
Every button is larger and sticks up more than the buttons on the N64 controller, so much so that the face buttons remind me of Skittles or M&Ms. Start, A, B, and all the C buttons are roughly the same size, too. A and B have an indent to give them a different texture but Start and the C buttons are more or less the same.
L and R stick up noticeably compared to their counterparts on the standard controller. This takes some getting used to if you’re accustomed to shoulder pads that kind of stay out of the way. Hand-size and finger-length would be important factors to consider if you see this controller in the wild. For me, holding one feels awkward and unnatural. My left hand has to be open a bit wider but have a steadier grip while my right hand feels comfortable and loose.
In spite of its goofiness, the standard N64 controller could be held at least two different ways, depending on what game you were playing. If you needed the D-Pad for something like Mischief Makers, you could treat it like an older controller for the SNES or NES. If you needed the analog stick for something like Super Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie, you simply ignored the left-hand side of the controller.
The Super Pad gives you one option. Though again, given where the stick and D-pad are relative to each other, it’s still a fairly common way to hold a controller—for PlayStation owners at least.There’s just something about the position of the analog stick. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Boy, that’s a confusing turn of phrase in this context! No, I can put my finger on it just fine. What I mean to say is that there’s something off about it. Perhaps it is the length and thickness of the handles? I’m not too sure.
A controller is something that every gamer needs to test out for themselves, so I encourage anyone who sees one of these funky Super Pad 64s to try it out. You might like it, or the very shape of it might throw you off your game.