Review: BlueRetro N64 Adapter – This Plug & Play Bluetooth Adapter is perfect for your NSO Pad
When it comes to sprucing up your retro consoles with a mod or two, there’s no shortage of options. From new skins to upscalers and converters, RGB mods to devices that mimic OG drives, old video game systems are being upgraded and refurbished like vintage cars these days, giving them new life and keeping our cherished childhood systems alive and well. 20, 30, even 40 years after they were first developed and released. However, integrating older consoles into today’s living room ecosystems can be challenging, and that’s where small devices like BlueRetro’s N64 adapter come in handy.
Cables used to connect pads to our consoles and we didn’t think too much about it. Other than tripping over them while traveling to the fridge for another drink, they were a necessary evil that didn’t seem all that bad at the time. Fast forward to the 2020s, though, and being tied to your console feels weird and limiting. Dangerous, even if you’re concerned about the well-being of your aging hardware. What if someone stumbles and sends that beloved 8-/16-/32-/64-/128-bit system flying!?
A collaboration between BlueRetro, 8bitmods and RetroTime, this plug-and-play Bluetooth dongle aims to allay those concerns with a convenient wireless option that plugs into the controller port of your choice and works great with just about any Bluetooth tablet you like. . pair.
In the box, you get the device itself in a small plastic case, as well as a few simple instructions that cover the absolute basics and direct you to a browser-based web interface for more detailed options and settings (more on that later).
In terms of build quality, it feels like an official product, with a high-quality finish and look that blends perfectly with the aesthetics of the console. Compare this to the square WaveBird receiver for the GameCube and you’ll see that it’s definitely the more attractive and streamlined piece of kit.
The official N64 Exclusive Wireless Pad from Nintendo Switch Online is a natural companion for this adapter, although their availability is patchy to say the least, with stock disappearing minutes after they hit Nintendo’s online stores, no matter your territory. However, if you have If you are lucky enough to purchase one of these official tablets, connecting to this adapter is very easy. Plug in the adapter, turn on the console and the green LED will flash. Press the sync button on the NSO panel and after a few seconds the LED in the adapter will turn off and the controller is ready to go.
In practice, we had to turn off the console and try again to connect to each pad we tested, but after pairing, they worked without problems. It supports a variety of controllers out of the box, including mainstream pads from Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, as well as third-party retro-focused options like 8bitdo, Hyperkin, Retro-Bit, and more (check out the full list of tested pads and how to connect them here) – and others like the Retro Fighters Brawler64 panel are being added via firmware updates.
In our time, the NSO panel, the Switch Pro controller, and our 8bitdo FC30 worked almost seamlessly. We ran into one mysterious disconnect in the middle of a race while racing down the Grass Valley slope in the Snowboard Kids – obviously not perfect, but it was an isolated incident and we had no connection issues other than that.
When switching between wired controllers and this latency test dongle, any existing input lag was not noticeable. We played via HDMI, which will obviously introduce its own latency compared to connecting to a CRT screen, but we were impressed with how responsive everything was.
The adapter supports vibration for compatible games and also comes with four built-in virtual memory packs. We have reached out to the manufacturers for exact clarifications, but it is our understanding that 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 will have access to virtual memory package number 3, and so on. Obviously you don’t want to switch your adapter between controller ports, so it’s possible to switch between them by mapping this loop function to an unused button on your controller via BueRetro web interface.
This is where things get a little more complicated and go beyond the advertised “Plug & Play” device. It’s not confusing for retro geeks familiar with setting up emulators and downloading firmware, but it does require a bit of research and you’ll need a Bluetooth-enabled desktop or Android device to access it (it didn’t have any of our iPhones, so we hacked the laptop).
We had to google the DarthCloud video below to unlock the vibration and memory pack features (and be able to switch between them on the fly with a home button press), but once that was done, everything worked without a hitch. It’s also possible to remap any button you like on a per-controller basis, though we stuck with the defaults.
While it’s not possible to move existing physical memory pack saves to this device via the N64 itself – holding start when starting the game allows you to delete save files on that pack only and NOT transfer them to other packs, unfortunately – you can load any saves. you have backed up by other means (e.g. Everdrive 64) to one of the virtual packages through the web interface. So yes, we were able to load our ghost Mario Kart 64 when we collapsed the shortcut to every lap Mario Raceway and store it securely in Other place for offspring. Happy Days.
You can mix and match wired controllers as you see fit, or even connect up to four such adapters if you have them. Manufacturers warn that four keys could be too big for your console’s power supply if it’s not in perfect condition – and let’s face it, if you’re still using your original late ’90s power supply, it’s probably not in the best condition. . – but theoretically you can connect four wireless pads without any problems.
And it’s all. We have updated our firmware with no problems via web config. Yes, this adapter could be more convenient for complete noobs, but chances are that if you’re the type of person who reads the Nintendo 64 Bluetooth Controller Adapter review, you probably be ok following some simple instructions and navigating through some basic menus through the browser.
Overall, we’re impressed with this little device and how it makes the N64 a little more accessible and easy to use in the modern age. With so many to choose from when it comes to retro gaming, it’s incredible how the slightest inconvenience – like having to dig out a controller extension cable to be able to play while sitting on a couch across the room – can be enough of a hindrance to just not bother. This $29.99 / £29.99 / €29.99 adapter completely eliminates that inconvenience and leaves you with no excuse other than to rediscover this great console’s gaming library. Ours was from the first production batch, but at the time of writing, another model was in development with an attractive smoky black transparent plastic body. With great build quality and all the extra features you could reasonably want, we applaud this.
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