Gaming was wild back in the 1990s, with both console makers and third parties releasing all sorts of wacky accessories. Some were nothing more than gimmicks, while others were genuine attempts to bring about a change in how we played video games. And because the Nintendo 64 controller had a port in the back, you could attach all kinds of extra stuff to add capabilities.
Speaking of accessories, how about we take a look at 5 things that fit in the back of a N64 controller? These range from rumble devices to heart rate sensors and can work with games to unlock unique mechanics. Both Nintendo and third-party companies made some unique controller attachments.
If you take a look at online used markets for N64 accessories, you’ll find a wide range of parts- many of which don’t even appear in official advertisements. Some, like the Japan-exclusive biosensor, were released in extremely limited numbers. So expect to pay a very high price for original copies of these rare accessories.
5 Things That Fit In The Back Of A N64 Controller
Probably the most popular N64 controller attachment, the Rumble Pak does exactly what you expect. It contains a vibration motor with a weight at one end. When activated, this imbalanced weight attached to the motor spindle generates a rotational torque.
This is the first mainstream controller attachment to include the rumble feature. Which makes N64 the first console with Rumble, before Sony released the DualShock. Several N64 games support the rumble attachment.
Some of the more popular games to use this feature are- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, WWF No Mercy, and Quake II. Rumble was especially useful in action games to highlight things like damage and special moves. Rumble Pak requires two AA batteries and prevents simultaneous use of Controller Pak.
This is the memory card expansion and is essentially a plastic shell with some SRAM and a coin cell. It slots into the bottom of your N64 controller and provides 32KB of storage space. Not all games required a Controller Pak, but most of them at the very least supported it.
Because it was cheaper for publishers to not include save space on their cartridges, they would often ship games with no internal SRAM/ EEPROM. Hoping that customers would buy Controller Pak attachments to save game progress. Even the cartridges that did have FlashRAM or EEPROM memory couldn’t compete with the Controller Pak in terms of capacity.
The 32KB of memory on a Controller Pak was broken down into 123 pages, with each Pak supporting up to 16 different save files. Nintendo advertised Controller Paks as an easy way to share game data between friends. The CR2032 coin cell in a Controller Pak can last anywhere from 15 to 20 years under average conditions.
Games like Pokémon Stadium could use a Transfer Pak to carry data between N64 games and compatible Game Boy/ Game Boy Color games. It also lets you unlock special content in supported games. Worldwide, just 20 games supported this accessory, and 14 of those were Japan-exclusive titles.
Hyper Pak Plus
Made by Nyko, this attachment combines the functionality of the Rumble Pak and Controller Pak into one device. It has an advanced rumble feature with two different intensity settings, as well as a memory chip with 4 times as many save slots as the Controller Pak. Users could toggle between rumble and memory modes by flipping a switch on the Hyper Pak Plus.
Seta Bio Sensor
Possibly the single most pointless accessory for N64, as it’s supported by exactly one game- Tetris 64. And you won’t believe what this thing does. It is a literal heartbeat sensor that clips into your ear lobe.
The Seta Bio Sensor plugs into the bottom of your N64 controller, like any other attachment. But there is also a wired clip that runs from the controller to your ear. It speeds up or slows down Tetris 64, depending on your heart rate (and was only sold in Japan).
Will N64 Work Without Jumper Pak?
The Jumper Pak is a mere filler device, that serves one function- terminating the Rambus data bus. If you don’t have a memory expansion (Expansion Pak), you need the Jumper Pak. Otherwise, your N64 will not boot up.
What Do C Buttons Do On N64?
C buttons are the 4 yellow-colored directional buttons on the right face of an N64 controller. Since dual analog sticks weren’t a thing, these were supposed to act as camera buttons. In Mario 64, you use these to rotate your 3rd-person camera view.
In Super Smash Bros., the C buttons are used to jump. You can also use them to change colors while selecting characters. Some games let you combine the joystick and C buttons to execute special moves in the direction that you want.
Why Was The 64DD A Failure?
Originally showcased one year before the N64’s launch in 1996, the 64DD is a floppy disk drive peripheral. It was released after a massive delay in 1999 and added little in terms of new capabilities. The accessory wasn’t even released in North America, severely limiting its commercial performance.
64DD was supposed to be a mass distributable media creation platform. It allowed N64 owners to make their own fonts, audio, movies, etc., and share these with other users via Nintendo’s proprietary Randnet service. Only 10 programs were released for the 64DD before it was discontinued in 2001- 2 years after its release.
Nintendo envisioned Randnet as its proprietary form of online connectivity, that would facilitate activities such as media sharing and online gaming. But the service had just 15,000 subscribers before it was ultimately canceled.
What Does The 64 In Nintendo 64 Stand For?
64 refers to the bit size, as N64 uses an NEC VR4300 64-bit processor. In layman’s terms, processors do calculations based on instructions. If you have a 64-bit CPU, the maximum size of each “word” in these instructions is 64 bits.
The maximum value that can be represented by an 8-bit number is 255. Similarly, the maximum value that can be represented by a 16-bit number is 65,535. With 64 bits, you can store numbers up to 19 digits in size (signed integer value).
How Powerful Is The N64?
For its time, N64 was very powerful and certainly the most powerful 5th-generation console. It uses a 64-bit processor, while the PS1 is equipped with a 32-bit processor. N64 has faster loading times, thanks to the use of cartridges with solid-state memory (rather than discs).
PS1 does have the advantage of more VRAM, and CDs can hold over 10 times as much data as an N64 cartridge. This allowed PS1 to host games with lots of FMV cinematics, and higher-quality textures. While N64 had a more advanced processor than PS1, it used an inferior storage format and suffered from memory limitations (hence the need for Expansion Pak).
I hope this article helped you understand what kinds of accessories you can fit into your N64 controller. If you take all the 3rd party accessories into account, there are nearly 10 of them.
However, most of these are just different takes on the same concept (rumble, memory card, etc.). So I decided to feature the truly unique ones in my article.