Ultra 64 prototypes: Differences and a video

Discussion in 'Articles & News' started by ASSEMbler, Jan 25, 2008.

  1. ASSEMbler

    ASSEMbler Administrator

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    [​IMG]

    As part of my ongoing storage dig / eventual sale, I've been finding some
    real gems from old caches of game hardware I put away.

    There are several versions of the Ultra 64 controller, starting with
    prototypes, working samples, and then transition to the N64 controller we
    all know. There are some major differences between the two. Let's start
    with some nice clear pictures, as never seen before.

    [​IMG]

    Please respect my wishes and not steal / post these pictures on any other
    site without my permission.

    What we have above is an Ultra 64 controller, using a hand assembled PCB
    that doesn't even have the memory card components. It features many
    interesting changes you'll see in the diagrams below. It took a minor act of
    God to get this item, so please don't ask.

    Here's a bottom view.
    [​IMG]

    The handles are a tad bit longer. There's many button differences, as well
    as to the the analog stick.

    Next we have the beta hardware.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the shoulder buttons were changed, as well as adding a
    new logo to the top of the controller. The thumb access for the memory
    unit / rumble is wider, to accomodate fat western fingers. Notice the
    "C" cluster button profile as well.

    [​IMG]

    If there's such a thing as controller porn, this is it. It makes some of the
    changes much easier to see. The beta pad almost looks like a retail stick.
    The thumb stick shrinks a bit, and gains more sensitivity and less travel
    room.

    [​IMG]

    The bottom view. Once again, bigger trigger for fat hands ^_^.

    [​IMG]

    The total comparison:
    1. The "C" cluster.
    Alpha: Contoured non rounded buttons. No "C" marking or rounding.
    Beta: Colored, raised, and rounded buttons. Still no "C" designation.
    Final: Now called "C"
    2. The Analog stick (see picture below)
    Alpha: Wide travel, huge top stick with full movement.
    Beta: Smaller travel, smaller top, square shape guides movement.
    Final: Even smaller top, 8-way guide.
    3. The Ultra 64 logo.
    Alpha: Nice big logo
    Beta and Final: Nintendo logo. Boo.
    4. The shoulder buttons.
    Alpha: Small, shallow travel.
    Beta-Final: Wider for western hands. Less contoured. Deeper travel.
    5. The Digital pad "D" pad.
    Alpha: Flat, contoured, non rounded, slightly recessed.
    Beta, Final: Deeply recessed in a concave impression.

    [​IMG]

    This show how much nintendo really thinks about the controllers they use.
    The many slight changes make the controller much more usable and in the
    end it was fondly remembered as one of the best system controllers of
    all time. Eventually I will find my Ultra 64, but it's not as exciting as the
    pad as all they did was change the fron dome sticker for the N64.

    I hope you enjoyed this little walk back in time to 1994.

    - CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO -
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2008
  2. SuperGrafx

    SuperGrafx Guest

    Wow, that's really something. I've seen pics of the black U64 controller before in some 1995 issue of EGM where they report on the U64 media preview. Truth be told, I'd have preferred the black version of the controller over what they finally settled on.

    Thanks for the pics and detailed comparisons. Nice to know one of the protos survived and ended up in good hands.
     
  3. JamesMichael

    JamesMichael Light Hearted Drunk

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    I really am amazed at this ultra rare find and the details that were changed from alpha to beta are quite a lot. I've seen this alpha black controller come up a lot of times in mags and on the internet but I never thought I would see such amazing pictures in high detail. Thanks for sharing Assembler and its good to see it went to someone who deserves it. Now just find that ultra 64 ;)
     
  4. babu

    babu Mamihlapinatapai

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    very nice :D
    Personally I like the design of the ultra64 pad better.. thought as I've never actually hold it in my hands I can't say if I would have liked it more from a gaming point of view.
    but it sure looks better :)

    I noticed that they used those [FONT=arial,sans-serif][SIZE=-1]RJ-11 [/SIZE][/FONT]phone connectors on the pre-final controllers too, just like on the GC.
     
  5. Christer-swe

    Christer-swe Resolute Member

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    I have big fat fingers so I'm glad they changed it :)


    Is it okay if I save a few pictures for my viewing only?
     
  6. ASSEMbler

    ASSEMbler Administrator

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    Sure save the pictures. I used to have problems with people wholesale yankingpics for their "museums" from my old site.
     
  7. Nicola

    Nicola Gutsy Member

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    Wow!
    Luckly they have added the guides to the analog stick. Making sharp movements in the 8 directions would have been a nightmare with a so light stick otherwise.
     
  8. APE

    APE Master Baiter

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    I recall some article saying that they used modified 3D satty controllers for prototype usage for the N64. Not sure now but I guarentee that that isn't the sole prototype.
     
  9. samael64

    samael64 Unintentional Ninja

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    All I can think is "Awesome!" and "I want!"
    Very nice, thanks for sharing the photos!
     
  10. ASSEMbler

    ASSEMbler Administrator

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    This controller dates to 1994, so unles they were stealing from Sega, I don't see how that is possible.
     
  11. gaming247

    gaming247 Gutsy Member

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    same here. Thanks for the pics and details about these controllers!
     
  12. Johnny

    Johnny Gran Turismo Freak and Site Supporter 2013 Staff Member

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    Great pics! Thanks for sharing with us!
     
  13. XxHennersXx

    XxHennersXx I post here on the toilet sometimes.

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    awesome! As an N64 fan I am pleased!
     
  14. LEo

    LEo Fiery Member

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    Wow where did you get these? Man how much do those go for?

    Awesome stuff
     
  15. DarthCloud

    DarthCloud Fiery Member

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    ;)
     
  16. retro

    retro Administrator Staff Member

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    OH WOW!! I remember the mock-up shot of that pad. I always thought the stick looked interesting, although it looked more like a mock-up or even a computer rendering. So it actually works, then?

    Thanks for sharing!

    +noob! :rolleyes:
     
  17. karsten

    karsten Member of The Cult Of Kefka Staff Member

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    the controller is from '94? in teresting, i guess that the first design was a successful one, then.

    the interview i translated here: http://www.assemblergames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16758&page=3

    is from december '93, so unless they started studying the new controller reeeeeeaaaaaaally earlier than the machine plan, the designer must have gone to the aim almost at the first shot! :p quite a rare happening, right? :)
     
  18. ASSEMbler

    ASSEMbler Administrator

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    Well I am guessing there's some mockups (nonfunctional) around
    This dates to 1994, and is working, so perhaps 1994 is the first working
    one. Given how tight lipped nintendo is, I doubt we'll find out any time soon.
     
  19. ASSEMbler

    ASSEMbler Administrator

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    Now now be nice.
     
  20. retro

    retro Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm always nice :-D muahahaha!

    I don't think this was the picture I remember , but it is very similar......

    [​IMG]
     

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