We all know that controllers wear out over time. Buttons go unresponsive, joysticks stick, and the whole thing cracks in half after a particularly frustrating setback. This is normally just a financial problem, but what about for controllers that are no longer being produced? We might face a future where perfectly fun and functional old consoles are orphaned without their necessary gamepads. A Kickstarter project called ENKKO is presenting a solution to this dilemma, at least as far as the N64 goes.
Much has been said about the N64 controller, mostly that it looks like it was designed for some sort of alien mutant. More informed criticism tends toward how much damage users can end up doing to the joystick, and vice-versa. This tends to end up with the sticks going limp, and then insensitive or wild. With the popularity of the N64 and it’s nostalgic stable of classic titles, something had to be done about the potential crisis looming for aging systems nationwide.
Now, if your own peculiar three-pronged handshaker goes belly-up, you can replace the busted bits with new injection molded or 3D printed replacements. ENKKO is a Kickstarter group who have already raised funds to begin producing the aforementioned joysticks as rewards. They have expressed interest and intent towards reproducing each part comprising the classic controllers, but deferred on the grounds that it was too risky to offer as a first effort.
When i first started this project in November, it was my goal to successfully reproduce each part. However, when it came time to scan and 3d print a prototype, the detail needed within the teeth is enormous. I contracted out to two companies who used High Resolution scanning and SLS printing (high res printing) to print out the nylon replicas. They proved too granular and rough to work with the other parts. I then asked the machinist on providing a negative for the gears. He said it would be expensive and that the end product might not be feasible. It’s my goal to get all parts reproduced and i’l be dedicating more research to see how i can get these gears out. They are just too risky to offer in a Kickstarter project.
ENKKO are already planning to deliver rewards by May, and are considering additional stretch goals, though haven’t announced anything conclusive yet. Funding continues for another 25 days as of now, so if you want to show support, or get some first-gen plastic for yourself, time is limited. Hopefully, given their $8,000 success, they will be able to work on advancing their technique far enough to develop buttons and other essential bits and bobs needed to keep controllers and characters running indefinitely.
What do you think of ENKKO’s project? What are your thoughts on the N64 controller? Do you think it’s a good thing that Kickstarter is being used to keep classic controllers alive? Share your thoughts in the comments below!