Controller Problems

I started playing Mario Kart 64 with a controller that was in decently good condition. As I improved at the game, the controller wore down and I got more used to using a worse and worse controller since I never switched to anything else. Eventually, the controller became unusable for me, and I switched to another one that was a little better. I generally wasn't too picky about my controller as I was moving up the ranks since I was still easily getting PR improvements either way. As my times got better, I required a more specific controller type. Unfortunately, my controller preference was a worn down condition that is somewhat hard to replicate.

In February 2019, I was doing Mario Raceway non-shortcut 3lap attempts but stopped for a week or so. When I came back to playing, I realized that my controller was too worn down and I couldn't drive very well with it. I cleaned the controller some and messed with some of the parts and was able to continue using it for a while. I was able to get some more non-shortcut WRs through mid 2019 and some more PRs until close to the end of 2019 by swapping some parts here and there. Eventually the controller was no longer salvageable.

December 11, 2019

I was able to play a little non-shortcut in early 2020 but couldn't drive quite as consistently. I had something I could drive decently with in April 2020 and was able to get some PRs. Shortly after I started swapping out my gears and stick for new kitsch-bent parts almost daily. I would keep my super worn down bowl though. This controller setup was extremely good for me other than the fact that the kitsch-bent sticks were snapping in half every few hours of gameplay.

May 27, 2020

I ended up spending most of the time playing NTSC non-shortcut with this controller and was driving well enough to beat some of my PAL times on the NTSC system. I drove a 32.70 LR 3lap opener on NTSC that remains 0.05 faster than my best on PAL. I also played some 150cc no-skips during this time (and lost a few runs to the stick snapping). I never ended up spending any time playing PAL when I had this controller, so most of my combined non-shortcut PRs remain from 2019.

In late 2020, new shortcuts started being found so that gave me more of an excuse to continue not playing non-shortcut, and I have just continued doing skips runs and shortcut time trials since.

September 16, 2020

From late 2020 to early 2024 I was using a very worn down bowl with a 3D printed stick. I could drive well enough to at least do some skips runs.

I started testing other 3D printed bowls in late 2022. They were designed to be artificially worn down in hopes of replicating my preferred controller condition. I tested quite a few of these with various small differences but still haven't had any luck replicating my preferred controller.

In February 2024, my main controller I had used for skips runs for the last few years become unusable for even those runs. After swapping some parts but keeping the bowl like I regularly would do, it still was worn down too much. This leaves me unable to play 150cc at really any acceptable level for WR attempts.


Current status (May 20, 2024): Got something decent enough for me to do skips runs with. Not exactly perfect for me to play non-shortcut. Not sure if I'll try anything else.

Controller testing spreadsheet



FAQ

Why don't you just get used to a different controller or a good one?

It would be almost like starting from scratch. Probably not that extreme, but I would be far off from my own PRs. Considering I mostly play this game while streaming, dropping my driving skill level down a lot for an undetermined amount of time to play for "controller PRs" probably wouldn't be interesting for most (including myself). It's not enjoyable for me to have my gameplay analyzed as if I'm at my best when I'm not (most people probably won't read this page).

Can I send you my controllers?

My controller preference is too specific, so testing random controllers isn't really worth trying anymore.

Have you tried a steelstick controller?

I have steelstick controllers, but I need a bad controller for non-shortcut driving.

Why don't you 3D scan a controller that's good for you?

I don't have a controller that's good for me anymore. Maybe should have done that years ago.

What is the exact controller preference you need?

I don't know. It's specific enough that it's not easy for me to just say "a 5/10 stick" or something like that. I can drive with controllers that have completely different dead zones. It's mostly about how the bowl is worn down and the tension of the stick. I want the stick to have higher tension the closer to the edges it gets. It sort of has a "mushy" feel to it.

What's the plan?

There's not a whole lot I can do other than just keeping testing tons of different custom parts with small variations. I've tested things off and on but probably won't have much luck being able to get something that will work to play non-shortcut again. I don't need to be as picky for skips runs though, so there is some hope I can get something at least good enough to continue doing those runs again.