Hyperkin Admiral Premium BT Controller

A couple months ago, I decided to order a couple replacement joysticks for two of my Nintendo 64 controllers. The control sticks in Nintendo’s iconic(?) three-pronged controllers have a tendency to lose most of their integrity and end up either too loose, making any remotely precise movement near impossible or restricting any freedom of movement as they get stiff from an accumulation of dust and dirt. As I mentioned in a subsequent blog post, I found a couple replacement joysticks on Amazon which were designed closer to that of the GameCube controllers and feel much smoother. The new control sticks felt pretty good and I was pretty happy with the way they turned out. I spent a little while testing the controllers out after the joystick replacements, but it wasn’t until a few weeks later that I noticed there was a little bit of a dead zone which means subtle movements in games like Perfect Dark or Rogue Squadron are near impossible as you have to push the joystick further before registering any movement in-game due to the dead zone directly in the center of the control stick. This is something I was fully aware of when buying the replacement sticks, as a few of the reviews had mentioned the possibility of dead zones…

One random afternoon, I decided to take a look online at some third-party N64 controllers and I came across the Hyperkin models. I ordered one of the Hyperkin “Duke” Xbox controllers last summer and really liked it; it’s actually turned into my main controller when playing games on my PC(non-FPS or point-and-click ones at least). After a little bit more research, I finally decided to try out the Admiral Premium BT Controller in atomic….um, Amethyst Purple. I still have my atomic purple controller that was packed-in with my N64 and have always had a fondness for the entire Funtastic Color series of translucent consoles and controllers, so I was pretty excited to see Hyperkin offered an equivalent to nearly every color offered by Nintendo back then, plus a few other unique ones.

The Controller

A few details about the controller(via the Hyperkin site)

• Wireless connectivity up to 30 ft. via included BT dongle

• Compatible with all N64® models, as well as PC, Mac® and Android® via BT

• Built-in lithium-ion battery lasts for 6 hours of gameplay and recharges via an included Micro cable

• Compatible with original game memory cards, third-party game memory cards, and standard storage memory cards

• Insert a storage memory card (not included) into the designated slot on the dongle

• Back up or transfer your game memory card save data

Growing up during the days of very…inconsistent quality of third-party controllers, especially Nintendo ones, I was cautiously optimistic, but my previous experiences with Hyperkin products provided a little more assurance. The controller performs much better than the old Mad Catz or cheaper Logitech ones I remember using during the N64/GameCube days. I *could* take this opportunity to mention the perception in Nintendo’s first-party controllers from years ago vs. the widespread Joy-Con issues today….but that’s another lengthy post for another day.

The Admiral BT doesn’t even look all that much like an N64 controller at first glance as it incorporates a more traditional two-handed design over Nintendo’s infamous oddball control pad. Instead of a third handle on the controller, Hyperkin moved the control stick over to the left side above the d-pad and has moved the Z Button to a left AND right shoulder position. This makes the controller’s form feel very much like the Switch Pro Controller. Of course, there remains just a single joystick, which meant I had to adjust to using the four C Buttons to assist in aiming the reticle while playing Perfect Dark. One could almost look at the Admiral as a design somewhere between evolutionary stages of Nintendo controllers….

Another thing I noticed about the controller(I guess my two Hyperkin controllers are the Duke and the Admiral?) is its very, very light weight; after being used to the more-substantial weight of modern-day controllers like the Dualshock 4 or the Xbox One Wireless, this controller is feather light. I compared it against one of my other N64 controllers and it isn’t too much of a weight difference, indicating how much today’s standard rumble features typical add to a controller’s heaviness.

The wireless dongle for the controller is a lot bigger than I had anticipated, but was pleasantly surprised to see that you can insert a memory card….or Control Pak and use the SD card slot to transfer your save data. I mean, I COULD do that if any game data I saved hadn’t been corrupted and erased years ago(totally NOT a bitter comment). If I ever get back to playing Buck Bumble or Beetle Adventure Racing, I can now save my data without as much worry.

Synching up the controller via Bluetooth was pretty simple, as it should be, and within moments I was able to play some Star Fox 64. I adjusted pretty quickly to the controller and it wasn’t long after that I had hardly noticed I wasn’t using one of the three-handed first-party ones.

What about any dead zones in the joystick? The control stick on the controller feels near identical to the replacement GameCube ones I installed into my other controllers, but, I was very pleased to play Star Fox and Perfect Dark without any noticeable dead zone right in the center of the joystick. My purchase completely justified right there….

After spending the weekend testing out the controller, there really isn’t much that I dislike about it. It works exactly as I’d hoped. My only minor issue was the fact that the Z Button has been adjusted to both shoulders of the controller and found myself fighting my own muscle memory a little bit. I stated above how similar the controller feels to the Switch Pro Controller, which meant I instinctively press the “ZL Button” to aim in Perfect Dark, but quickly remembered once Joanna randomly fires a shot in the vicinity of a previously-unsuspecting DataDyne guard, that it’s the R Button to stop and take aim. A very minor thing, but I don’t really have much else…the controller functions pretty damn well.

The Admiral BT Premium may not appeal to those looking for more of a direct substitute for an N64 controller, particularly in shooter games(not that there was many on the console) where the Z Button underneath the middle handle gave players the feeling closer to that of holding a weapon. For those looking for a more traditional replacement, Hyperkin does make the Captain Premium controllers, which are not wireless, but still resemble the shape of a Poseidon’s trident like the original Nintendo ones.

All in all, I’m pretty satisfied with the Admiral BT and being able to lie in bed and play Mario Kart 64 is definitely nice. Maybe some Ocarina of Time or Donkey Kong 64 next?

Thanks for reading!

Reunited – Pokémon Gold

Have you ever lost a game? Not simply seeing the “Round Lost” or continue screen, but you could no longer find a game once in your possession. Anyone who played enough games as a kid or has amassed enough games as a collector will likely have had something similar happen to them. Pokémon Gold was one of my favorite Game Boy Color games and one that represented many cherished childhood memories. Somewhere over the course of moving from my parents house(and several other times), I had lost track of my copy of Pokémon Gold. I had looked through every nook and cranny where I had scattered my collection of games, but….just couldn’t find it. I had slowly just accepted the idea that I MUST have sold the game in one of the couple times I went through with downsizing my collection, but…I still had the box and manual from the game. However, if I had gone through and sold the game in an episode of foolishness…why would I have not bothered to sell the game as a complete-in-box(CIB) copy and made the extra cash for it?

It was just this past weekend that I was surprised with my original, childhood copy of Pokémon Gold. It turns out, a nephew had…”borrowed” the game years back and “forgot” to return it, assuming I wouldn’t have noticed or cared the game was missing. Along with it, I found myself with the copy of Pokémon FireRed for the Game Boy Advance that I had also assumed was long gone…it was a joyous reunion, nonetheless.

Then why did I have the bowl, Bart? Why did I have the bowl…?

It’s been eighty-four years just over twenty years now since I first played Pokémon Gold. The game was released in North America on October 15, 2000, nearly a full year after Gold & Silver had been released in Japan. I had come down with a severe case of Poké-mania a year or so prior, and had finally gotten a Game Boy Color and copy of Pokémon Red of my own earlier that year. I remember most of my time in the spring/summer of 2000 was spent reading through my prized issues of Nintendo Power, which usually contained a wealth of Pokémon-related news or game tips and getting hyped for the release of the next Pokémon game, along with another little Nintendo 64 game titled Perfect Dark…which I may have also mentioned once or twice on this blog.

I don’t recall the date when I got Pokémon Gold, but I remember it being only a few weeks after it was released, so I’d say it was probably the beginning of November. I had been extra-motivated to assist my parents around our home and managed to actually save, yes, NOT spend every cent of my allowance as I was determined to begin another journey through the Johto Region on my way to becoming a Pokémon master. I can still remember pretty clearly the day we went into town for my parents to pick up a few things. We stopped by the K-Mart store in town(yes, this WAS twenty-one years ago) and I was able to finally grab a copy of Pokémon Gold, a game I had wanted more than anything else in the world. Before we had left for town, I had realized that I had enough money saved up for a couple games…how awesome is that? Along with Pokémon Gold, I decided on the Spider-Man Game Boy Color game – the one based off the 90’s cartoon, one of my other favorites next to the Batman and Pokémon animated series’. After that, I still had just enough money to pick up an official Game Boy Color travel case so I could somewhat protect my precious handheld as well as carry around a few games. I remember the feeling of pride and satisfaction at being able to point to something that I paid for with my own hard-earned(?) cash as I attempted to plug in my little accessory light and play Pokémon Gold on the ride back home.

* I sadly don’t still have the Spider-Man game and I’m not entirely sure what happened to the travel case…one mystery at a time, I guess.

It does feel pretty nice having my original childhood copy of Pokémon Gold, especially after assuming I’d either lost or, for some reason, sold the game and wasn’t likely to see it again. The game has much sentimental value in being a game I felt such pride in being able to go into a store and buy myself, as well as something I loved playing in those early Junior High School days. It also has a monetary value, as the prices of older Nintendo, especially Pokémon games have been skyrocketing the past few years…so, it’s a double-win!

So, how about you? Have you ever lost track of an old game from your childhood and assumed it was lost forever, only to stumble across it years later? Let me know. Thanks for reading, fellow trainers!