Leon Othenin-Girard is a Swiss freelance tech writer who specializes in gaming reviews. His reviews, roundups, news, and op-eds also appeared on Cultured Vultures.
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Best USB N64 Controller: iNNext at Amazon
"You won’t need to buy an adapter either since it connects via USB."
Best Budget Adapter: Mayflash at Amazon
"The only thing you will have to do if you want it to run smoothly is calibrated it."
Best Universal: Mayflash Sega/N64/PS2 at Amazon
"If you want to play PS2 games or even Sega Saturn games, this is the adapter for you."
Best Adapter Pairing: Retro-Bit Tribute 64 at Amazon
"Redesigned to be more ergonomic, and the analog stick is highly sensitive."
Best Splurge: Raphnet Dual at Skim Resources
"It costs twice as much as our budget option but can do almost everything the Mayflash adapter can’t."
Runner-Up, Best Splurge: Raphnet Single at Skim Resources
"Though it only costs a little bit less than the Raphnet Dual N64 adapter, the Raphnet Single is an equally safe bet."
Not everyone has an N64 controller lying around at home, and if you’re not quite willing to spend money on a used controller (much less a new N64 controller, which would set you back half a fortune) the iNNext N64 wired gamepad might just be the one for you. You won’t need to buy an adapter either since it connects via USB. Though the controller was made from scratch to mimic the look of an N64, it understandably doesn’t feel quite the same. But don't get us wrong, it still holds up for emulation. The buttons are somewhat pressure-sensitive; however, some users said they feel a bit more jagged than the original N64 kit.
Although it does have Rumble Pak notch on the back, the two are incompatible, sadly. Nevertheless, the iNNext controller more than makes up for this trivial shortcoming. As a generic USB controller, you can use it with pretty much any device that supports USB gamepads.
If you’re looking for a way to play N64 games on your PC with your original controller, absent the need for laborious modding and expensive parts, then the Mayflash N64 controller adapter is your new best friend. With a reasonable price tag and support for up to two controllers at a time, you can be confident this is one impulse buy you won't later regret.
You won’t need to install any special drivers either. In fact, the only thing you will have to do if you want it to run smoothly is calibrate it. The adapter won’t be able to replicate expansions — such as the Expansion Pak for games like Donkey Kong 64, or the Transfer Pak for connecting with GameBoy games. That said, the only one you’re missing out on is the Rumble Pak. You can emulate the rest. As long as you have an original N64 controller lying around at home, and you’re not playing a game that benefits from the Rumble Pak, you’ll be set.
The MayFlash Sega Saturn/N64/PS2 controller adapter for PC is the perfect pick for those looking to emulate more than N64 games alone. If you want to play PS2 games or even Sega Saturn games, this is the adapter for you. The downside is that you can only use one controller at a time. On the other hand, it will work natively on PC, Mac, and some reports claim it even works on the PS3 and Xbox One. Thus, in addition to its aforementioned emulation benefits, the Mayflash Sega/N64/PS2 adapter is the perfect vessel for revisiting Xbox One Backward Compatible classics like Banjo-Kazooie and Battletoads with an N64 controller.
When paired with an N64 controller, this adapter lets you choose to swap the functionality of the analog stick and the d-pad, sacrificing input sensitivity for better placement on the controller. However, the analog stick lacks sensitivity, which seems to be one of the few knocks against it. Like other adapters on this list, Mayflash doesn’t require any special drivers, so you can just plug and play.
This controller requires an adapter to play on PC.
If you want to play N64 games on your PC but you don’t really like the layout of the N64 controller (and how can anyone blame you for not having a third hand?), you might be inclined to check out the Retro-Bit Tribute 64. This N64 controller was redesigned to be more ergonomic, and the analog stick is highly sensitive. The shoulder pads were reshaped to give you more grip, and the controller has a working slot for Controller Paks and Rumble Paks.
Although its cabling was taken from an original N64 controller, you don't have to worry about the Retro-Bit Tribute 64 going out of stock. It was created by a modern team dedicated to retro gaming consoles. To be fair, PC gamers will have to buy an adapter in order to use the Retro-Bit Tribute 64. But if you’re looking for a high-quality controller designed from the ground up for the N64, look no further.
Raphnet Dual at Raphnet
If you’re willing to pay a bit more for an adapter, you’ll feel right at home with the Raphnet Dual N64 controller to USB adapter. It costs twice as much as our budget option but can do almost everything the Mayflash adapter can’t. And, for playing N64 games on your PC, you can’t go wrong with it. Since it has two ports, you’ll even be able to play Goldeneye with a friend. Nostalgia at its rosiest.
You won’t have to install any fancy drivers either. Instead, it comes with a fancy management tool that not only lets you administer several adapters at once but keeps their firmware up to date. To top it all off, it supports Rumble Paks and third-party controllers. Plus, rather than going through a complex series of plugins and drivers before reaching the game, the controller input is directly registered by the game, leading to much lower latency and smoother response times while gaming.
Raphnet Single at Raphnet
Though it only costs a little bit less than the Raphnet Dual N64 adapter, the Raphnet Single is an equally safe bet. It works without installing any special drivers, works on Linux, macOS, and Windows and comes with the same management software as the Dual version (however, the management tool doesn’t work on Mac, sadly). You’ll always have your adapter on the newest firmware, and you can even use it to evaluate rumble health.
You can also configure certain aspects of the adapter if you wish, allowing you to edit Controller Paks. The adapter is also compatible with the Transfer Pak, meaning you can backup and/or dump your Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. Dumping a game means obtaining a ROM from the cartridge, and it's a handy way of accessing and playing N64 games, legally, on your PC.