When it comes to upgrading your classic console with a mod or two, there’s no shortage of options. From new cases to upgraders and converters, RGB modes to OG drive emulations, old video game systems are being upgraded and refurbished just like vintage cars are today, give them new life and keep our precious childhood systems alive and well. 20, 30, even 40 years after they were first designed and released. However, integrating legacy consoles into modern living room ecosystems can be challenging, and that’s where small devices like BlueRetro’s N64 Adapter come in handy.
The cable is used to connect the pads to our console and we don’t think too much about it. Didn’t stumble upon them on your journey to the fridge to get another drink, they were a necessary evil that didn’t seem to be the devil at the time. However, fast forward to the 2020s and being tied to your dashboard feels weird and limited. Even dangerous if you worry about your old hardware. What if someone tripped and sent that beloved 8-/16-/32-/64-/128-bit system flying!?
This plug-and-play Bluetooth dongle — a partnership between BlueRetro, 8bitmods, and RetroTime — aims to allay those fears with a convenient wireless option that plugs into the controller port of your choice and plays well with pretty much any Bluetooth pad you’re interested in. pair.
In the box, you get the device in a small plastic sleeve, plus some lightweight tutorials that cover the absolute basics and direct you to a browser-based web interface for more options and customizations. more in-depth (more on that later).
Build quality wise, it feels like a full-fledged product, with high-quality finishes and a look that blends perfectly with the console’s aesthetics. Compare this to WaveBird’s boxy receiver for the GameCube, and it’s a much more engaging, streamlined toolkit.
Nintendo’s official Switch Online-specific wireless N64 keyboard is a natural mate for this adapter, though availability of those is minimal at least, with the line disappearing in just a few minutes. after it arrives in Nintendo’s online stores regardless of your territory. However, if you yes lucky enough to get one of those official pads, hooking up to this adapter is a breeze. Plug the adapter in, turn on the control panel and the green LED will start blinking. Press the sync button on your NSO board and for a moment the LED in the adapter will go out and the controller will be fine.
In practice, we had to turn off the console and try connecting again with every new keyboard we tested, but once paired, they worked without issue. It supports a wide range of controllers right out of the box — including mainstream Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft controllers, plus vintage-focused third-party options like 8bitdo, Hyperkin, Retro-Bit , etc. (see the full list of tested pads and how to pair them all here) — with more like Retro Fighters Brawler64 keyboard added through firmware updates.
In our time with it, our NSO keyboard, Switch Pro controller, and 8bitdo FC30 all worked with almost no problem. We experienced a mysterious disconnect in the middle of the race as we were plummeting down the slopes of Grass Valley in kids snowboard — obviously less than ideal, but it was a one-time problem and we didn’t have any connectivity issues other than that.
Switch between the wired controller and this dongle for latency testing, any input lag that exists is not noticeable. We played over HDMI, which obviously introduces its own lag compared to connecting to a CRT monitor, but we were impressed with how responsive everything was.
The adapter supports rumble for compatible titles and also comes with four virtual memory packs built in. We have contacted the manufacturers to clarify exactly, but as far as we understand each of the four packages or ‘banks’ is assigned to one controller slot in the system. For example, plug the adapter into port 3 and you’ll access virtual memory pack #3, etc. Obviously you don’t want to swap your adapter between the controller’s ports, so it’s possible to switch switch between them by mapping that cycle function to an unused button on your controller via BlueRetro web interface.
This is where things get a little more complicated and go beyond the advertised ‘Plug & Play’ nature of the device. Nothing too confusing for classic fans familiar with emulator tweaks and firmware downloads, but a bit of research is needed and you’ll need a desktop or device Android has Bluetooth support for access (it doesn’t have any of that with our app). iPhone, so we jailbreak the laptop instead).
We had to google DarthCloud’s video below to unlock the rumble and memory pak functionality (and to be able to quickly switch between the two via a single press of the Home button) but once it was done it worked. without any problems. It’s also possible to remap any buttons you like on a per-controller basis, though we’ll keep the defaults.
While an existing physical memory pack cannot be transferred to this device through the N64 itself — holding start during game startup only allows you to delete files saved on that pack, NOT to move them to bundles other, unfortunately — you can load any save files you’ve backed up via other methods (such as Everdrive 64) into one of the virtual packages via the web interface. So yes, we managed to upload ours Mario Kart 64 the specter of the one time we turned off the shortcut on each Mario Raceway lap and save it safely in is different place for posterity. The happy days.
You can mix and match with wired controllers as you like, or even plug in four of these adapters if you have them. Manufacturers warn that four dongles can prove too much for your console’s power supply unless it’s in top shape — and let’s face it, if you’re still using the original PSU your head from the late ’90s it might not be in top condition — but theoretically, you should be able to connect four wireless pads with no problem.
And that’s about it. We updated our firmware without any problems via web config. Yes, the customization features might be more user-friendly for the whole newbies, but chances are if you’re the type of person reading a review of the Bluetooth controller adapter for Nintendo 64, then you will maybe okay, let’s follow some simple instructions and navigate some basic menus through the browser.
Overall, we’re impressed with this tiny device and how it makes the N64 a little more accessible and playable in the modern age. With so many choices when it comes to classic gaming, it’s hard to believe the slightest inconvenience (such as having to dig up a controller extension cable to be able to play while sitting on your sofa across the room). ) can be a hindrance enough to simply not disturb. For $29.99 / £29.99 / €29.99, this adapter eliminates that inconvenience altogether and leaves you with no excuse but to rediscover the console’s library of games. this great. Our product is from the first batch, but at the time of this writing, there is another being produced with the popular ‘Smoke Black’ clear plastic case. With excellent build quality and all the extras you could reasonably wish for, this should have our backs.
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