Review: Retro-Bit Tribute N64 USB Controller

Retro-Bit Tribute N64 USB Controller Review 

Overall Score: 8.5/10

I was never a huge fan of the Nintendo 64 Controller although I liked certain aspects of it and I was a big fan of the N64.  The Retro-Bit Tribute N64 USB controller had been sitting in my eBay watchlist for a while and decided to go ahead and buy it for $18.95 (Free Shipping) on a whim to test out on Mac, PC, and Nintendo Switch.  The MSRP for the controller is $24.99. Photos of mine in this review are unedited and straight off the camera as is. 

The Good 

  • A more modern design that's easier to use than the original N64 controller depending on your preferences. 
  • Large thumb-stick. 
  • Rumble Pak compatible. 
  • Layout is close enough to the original that gameplay with it feels authentic. 
  • Two Z buttons (one can easily be programmed for a new function. 
  • Lightweight But Sturdy. 
  • Controller immediately recognized by OSX, Windows 10 or Nintendo Switch.
The Bad: 

  • The controller is very small and almost cramped for anyone with large hands.  
  • Too small D-pad. 

Build Quality 

I was expecting a pretty cheaply constructed controller but this one is surprisingly built well. The face buttons, triggers and d-pad look fairly generic but they are "springy" and get immediate action. They aren't quite clicky but they feel good, very responsive and work good with no type of input lag or anything. The thumb-stick a little strange. It feels a little on the loose side which but it's still accurate and responsive. The left thumb-stick feels like it makes a click when you press down on it but it's not a clickable stick. My guess is that it's not seated perfectly creating a slight click noise when pressed hard. The shell I cheap plastic but hard and appears to be something that would last a long time. The only other part of the build worth noting is that it does work with rumble paks. I'd almost say it works better than the original Nintendo 64 controllers. Fortunately they give you a pretty long cord with this controller too (about 10 feet long).  I'd love to compare this to Hori's N64 Mini Pad but I have yet to find one at a decent price.  

As you can see by this photo from N64 Today, they look very similar (these are N64 controllers shown not the USB version): 

Hori N64 Mini Pad

My main complaint about the Tribute N64 controller is that it's a little on the small side.  It's a great size for kids or people with tiny hands but a little cramped for someone will larger hands.  From side to side, the controller is less than 5 inches wide.  


I feel like this is a fair buy for under $20.  No complaints from me for the price I paid.  Closer to the original MSRP of $24.99 I'd probably have some hesitation recommending it at that price.  

Compared to the original N64 Controllers

I find the thumb-stick despite being a little on the cheap side to perform better than the originals did.  They thumb-stick on this controller is a lot like a GameCube controller.  In game, in really gives you more control than the original controllers did and a better feeling although it's a little less precise being on the loose side of things.  It's just a shame the controller is so small.  

Type of Games I'd Suggest it For

Racing Games, Adventure (Zelda), Mario 64 etc.  The d-pad isn't quite up to snuff for fighting games and the thumb-stick may be a little too loose of a style for accurate shooters although it did work well with Star Wars:  Shadows of the Empire (particularly in flight). 

In the End

Overall, for under $20 I'm satisfied with the buy.  These are pretty easy to find on eBay and Amazon in that price range.  There's a more expensive wireless version of the controller that I'd also like to check out at some point.  This Retro-Bit controller does have some quality behind it so it's not a generic pile of junk like a lot of random USB controllers are like the unbranded ones.  

Mac OS Big Sur 11.2.3

I tested it on the OSX Big Sur OS using a late 2015 MacBook Pro and the software OpenEmu and Steam. No input lag at all using the controller with OSX and functionality was perfect.  

Windows 10

I tested the controller on multiple Windows 10 devices and the results were the same.  

Nintendo Switch 

I tested it on the Nintendo Switch running the latest firmware and had great results with it as well. 

Related Links

Retro-Bit Homepage

DISCLOSURE: I purchased this controller with my own funds and am my opinions in this post were not influenced by outside groups.  This post contains no affiliate links or links that are beneficial to me.  

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