Nintendo 64 Controller Prototype
Photo credit: Shane Battye
On June 23, 1994, Nintendo announced the “Ultra 64”, the official name of its still in development console. By purchasing and developing upon SGI’s Project Reality graphics supercomputing platform, Nintendo and its Dream Team of developers could start prototyping their games according to SGI’s estimated console performance profile, prior to the finalization of the console hardware specifications. This meant that several controller prototypes were also developed around that time, including the device you see above. Read more for a video, additional pictures and information.

Some differences includes the Z trigger being just another button and a different-shaped control stick with a fully circular range of movement. The system’s original game controller was simply a Super NES controller modified to have a primitive analog joystick and Z trigger. How did they keep it a secret? Well, a LucasArts developer said his team would “furtively hide the prototype controller in a cardboard box while we used it. In answer to the inevitable questions about what we were doing, we replied jokingly that it was a new type of controller—a bowl of liquid that absorbed your thoughts through your fingertips.”

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