New N64 controller promotional images have fans talking about the grip rather than the new buttons

Publication date of the original Japanese article: 2021-09-28 17:42 (JST)
Translated by. Nick Mosier

The wireless Nintendo 64 controller revealed in the latest Nintendo Direct has reignited an unexpected discussion. The controller in question is a remaking of the original Nintendo 64 controller. Official images for the controller reveal that the Nintendo Switch specific HOME, Capture, and ZR buttons have been added to the design (see related article in Japanese).

We assumed the new buttons would be what most readers were interested in, but when we tweeted out the above article, it was something else that had readers talking. The “controller grip” used in one of the official images from Nintendo.

The image uses a grip where the player holds the left and right prongs of the controller, but to many people who have played the N64, it just doesn’t look right. The tweet about the controller’s buttons received roughly 800 retweets and 250 quote tweets, with most of the quote tweets referring to the grip used in the image. Even outside of the quote tweets, a lot of people could be seen taking jabs at the grip.

Most gamers insist that holding the controller with your right hand on the right prong and your left hand on the middle prong is the natural way to hold it. This way, your left thumb is in the perfect position to control the analog stick. Most Nintendo 64 games made use of the analog stick, so a majority of players consider this the de facto grip.

But it’s not quite right to say the grip used in the above images is wrong. The Nintendo 64’s official website and instruction manual introduces three different grips, or positions, as they are referred to in the manual.

The grip where players hold the middle and right prongs is called Right position, and the grip where players hold the left and right prongs is called the Home position. As an aside, Home position is called Famicom position in Japan. This grip was used for games that centered around the D-pad, such as Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. To players that grew up with the GameCube or the symmetrical grip of a PlayStation controller, there seems to be a trend toward thinking the Home position is most natural.

*A cosplayer named Aya Kirima caused a similar stir in January of 2020 after posting pictures of herself using the Home position.

But what of the oft-forgotten Left position? With it, you can use both the analog stick and D-pad at the same time for something a little more unique. A couple of games that use this position are Chopper Attack and Sin & Punishment, with the latter being covered in an Iwata Asks interview for the Wii title Sin & Punishment: Star Successor.

Iwata mentions that Super Mario 64 was a launch title for the Nintendo 64 that used the Right position, and everyone seemed to follow suit after that. The Sin & Punishment developers however, began with the concept of making full use of the Left position. From there, the control scheme of aiming your weapon with the analog stick and moving with either the D-pad or C buttons was born. Sin & Punishment will also be available to Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscribers, so players will once again be able to experience the unique feel of Left position.

The Right, Home, and Left position are all officially recognized by Nintendo and each have games they are best suited for. But it’s not hard to understand how Nintendo 64 fans feel when they see unfamiliar grips seemingly being passed off as the standard.