While most of the hype coming out of Retro-Bit this year has been centered on their exceptional Sega Genesis and Saturn controllers, this isn’t all the company has to offer this year for retro loving gamers! Back at CES 2019, we got our first preview of a new collection of controllers dubbed The Platinum Collection which will be a line of controllers built for Nintendo’s first 3 consoles (NES, SNES, N64). On display was the Tribute 64 a new N64 replacement controller that promised high quality and accuracy to an original N64 controller without the mechanical failures the originals were prone to. The Tribute 64 takes a heavily inspired design from that of the Hori Pad Mini rather than the three pronged approach of the originals.
The Tribute 64 will come in 2 different styles an original style port for use on the original N64 hardware and a USB version that will work on PC, Mac, Steam, Nintendo Switch and also PS3. Pre-orders for both controller types have been available for some time through CastleMania Games with an estimated late May release window. Now, Retro-Bit has finally pulled back the curtain on the official ship dates with original port controllers, coming in red, forrest greeen and ocean blue colors, being available starting May 24 for a price of $25.99. USB port versions of the Tribute 64, available in the same colors, will follow a week later on May 31 for a price of $29.99. Retro-Bit is also planning a wireless version of the Tribute 64 that will launch later in 2019 that will utilize 2.4GHz transmission to ensure low latency.
Each version of the Tribute 64 will come with a 10 FT long cable to ensure comfortable seating distance from you to your console or computer. The Thumbsticks come from a Japanese manufacturer that are said to boost responsiveness and accuracy over the originals. Each thumbstick will also have an increased dead-zone of 120 up from the 80 found on original Nintendo made controllers. The N64 version of the Tribute 64 will also support both N64 Controller Paks and Rumble Paks. Unfortunately due to Nintendo’s designs, Transfer Paks will once again not work on the Tribute 64. Unfortunate but not at all unexpected. Lastly, the Tribute 64 will come with dual Z triggers to ensure a more comfortable gameplay experience for players more used to modern shooter designs.
With the praise that has come out of early preview events and Retro-Bit’s own history of first class controller quality with the Sega collaboration, the Tribute 64 looks set to become my new main N64 controller! As I have already mentioned in my previous coverage on the Tribute 64 I am hyped that so many third party companies are showing renewed interest in the N64. The N64 was the first console that was truly my own and I spent tons of money and countless hours playing nearly everything it had to offer me at the time. The biggest concern I have for the Tribute 64 really just boils down to the thumbsticks. Since the N64 was one of the first consoles to use an analog approach to controls the original design was built oddly and finding a stick to match has been practically impossible. It looks like Retro-Bit has taken the approach to forego replicating the functionality of the original and instead focus on accuracy with the increased movement range. I look forward to seeing how well this approach works out on all supported platforms when the Tribute 64 launches next month. Full review coming soon!