We've heard on a number of occasions how Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has been a lifelong fan of video games, and during an appearance on an Xbox podcast earlier this weekend, he briefly touched on his history with the Nintendo 64.
After reflecting on gaming during his childhood with the Xbox Era podcast, he spoke about his transition from within Microsoft to the Xbox team, and how he wasn't really into modern consoles before the original Xbox - so, he did a "crash course" and went out and bought the N64 and PlayStation.
"the 2600...Sinclair ZX81...Commordore 64...most of my history playing was actually in that kind of Amiga, Atari, PC space, and I wasn't a big console gamer...when I started in Xbox and when Xbox was launched here, it was really my first foray into console gaming, before that it was playing Ultima Online, playing mostly PC games at the time, but yeah...it was a crash course in console when I joined the Xbox team, I went and bought an N64 and the PlayStation and a bunch of things and just tried to figure out what is this controller...
Phil elaborated on this - sharing some of his own thoughts about the N64 controller when the hosts of the podcast referenced its unique design:
"You have to have three hands, it's a controller that's built for somebody with three hands, as great as the games are...yeah, it was kind of cool, because it was kind of like two controllers in one"
Although Phil is nowadays more committed to Xbox than ever before, he's still a huge advocate of gaming, in general. He's also vocal about making gaming more accessible to the masses and has called for industry-wide support of video game preservation in recent times.
During his time as the Xbox boss, Microsoft has worked with Nintendo on a number of occasions to release various products such as Minecraft and Banjo in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and more recently the release of Rare's N64 title Banjo-Kazooie on Nintendo's Switch Online Expansion Pack service.
If you would be interested to find out more about what Phil had to say, be sure to check out our sister site Pure Xbox.
I did always feel my friend three-hand Steve had the advantage.
He didn’t do a very good crash course if he couldn’t work out that no N64 games expect you to keep switching between the left and middle handles. 🙄
Speaking of N64 controllers……still waiting on a re-stock for my switch online……and waiting, and waiting……
@BulkSlash I know right! Nintendo thought that no one would be using the joystick AND the d-pad at the same time lol. It's a reasonable assumption.
@Kainbrightside Probably plotting his next kidnap attempt.. oh wait wrong bowser.🤪
He’s right that the N64 controller wasn’t the best or most practical. Xbox gave us the peak controller which the Pro Controller emulated. I still love the GameCube controller though.
@GrailUK The AKI wrestling games used the D-Pad to move and the control stick for taunts and poses, and so it was a bit of a pain, and a couple of FPS games like Doom 64 and Quake 64 allowed you to set a couple of functions to the D-Pad such as bringing up the map, toggling autorun on/off etc, so there were games that made use of both...but they were few and far between to be fair.
I'll be honest and just say this guy gives me the creeps. I am sure he is a perfectly nice chap but when I hear him talking about gaming it's like he is the gaming equivalent of a groomer, telling gamers the things they want to hear while thinking of ways to get you in to the back of his van.
@bluemage1989 Phil tells you that you're special and that he isn't seeing other publishers but then you find him in bed with that hussy Activision. He cannot be trusted.
You have to have three hands, it's a controller that's built for somebody with three hands
Clearly he's talking about the PlayStation controller.
@bluemage1989 agreed. He comes across as someone who doesn’t like games at all and has been given notes as to what to say and he always kinda doesn’t quite say it right or just seems false. Like when the U.K. prime minister pretended he liked football and then said the wrong team to the team he claimed to support. It all just seems staged and wrong to me.
Sure he is a lovely bloke though and does really like games.
@Freek the Xbox OG controller he means. An extra hand to cope with size and weight.
@Medic_Alert Indeed. I believe Nintendo's thinking was that if the analogue stick did not get adopted by gamers it be very easy for them to switch back to the D-pad. It was an ingenious controller for the time and deserves a lot of credit. Even though it is odd by modern standards.
That's the job I want. Go spend a few weeks doing a crash course playing games for a few Mil a year.
MS if you are reading this I'm up for grabs.
@Medic_Alert at least the n64 missing link is real 😂
@Stocksy regardless, he's making great decisions. Much better than the people before him, IMO. I never see him speak, only read his comments, but maybe I'll go check him out just to see, lol.
That’s true, but it was a still an absolutely terrible design that went against the rules of building a good controller.
It was odd by that days standards.
The SNES layout should have been the layout that everyone after followed. Thankfully, Sony did and expanded on it.
Which is just one reason the PS1 was the true successor to the SNES, not the N64.
@TheRedComet You realize the original dogbone PSOne controller did not have analogue sticks? The point I made what that the N64 controller gambled on something that is now standardized in the industry, but at the time was a risky gamble and Nintendo had to design the controller in a way they could back-peddle from it. It was ingenious for its time as it allowed FPS games to transition to consoles easily, was great for action games, rail shooters and the odd RPG. The N64 controller looks weird, but once you get it in your hands it works.
Secondly, the N64 is its own beast and did not need to rest on the laurels of the SNES. We can argue which console was overall better (N64 v. PSOne). Granted both consoles have aged rather poorly, but I'd say the gems of the N64 library have shined brighter than the PSOne. The PSOne has JRPGs, but a lot of that library is borderline unplayable something that is not the case for the SNES.
It’s funny that his reaction to the N64 Controller was the same as so many other peoples. I really liked it but it did throw people off. I got one in 1997 and remember taking it back to my University house after the summer holidays. That ‘but how do you use it with only two hands’ was the reaction of many.
The N64 came with a diagram that explained the three positions of the controller. If I could read and understand that at 12 what was this grown man’s excuse? Meanwhile the N64 was standardizing the analog stick while people try to act like Nintendo was insane after the fact for making something they all adopted, common.
He’s hello fellow kids incarnate but lucky for him MS has a massive budget for astroturfers.
@TheRedComet I wouldn't say it was odd by the standards of the day. The 3DO and Jaguar controllers didn't follow the SNES layout, they both had straight rows of three face buttons.
The Saturn had six face buttons like the N64 and so did the Jaguar six button pad. So the N64 having six buttons was more in line with every other system of that generation. The PS1 is actually the odd man out! 😅
The two controller innovations I will always give Sony credit for are the handles and the symbols on the buttons. Trying to do QTEs on a Nintendo or Xbox controller is just confusing as they reverse the layout. 😩
That said, I think Sony hit on the winning formula more out of luck that skill with the DualShock. I don't think they added the second analogue stick out of visionary brilliance, I think it just follows their standard pattern back then of just adding another one of something to make their controller look better, i.e.:
-Original PS1 controller- SNES pad with extra L & R.
-PS1 Analogue Controller- has to do one better than the N64 so they added another stick.
-PS1 DualShock- the N64 added rumble so Sony created a pad with two rumble motors.
@Kainbrightside I never understood the love for Reggie. Not that I think he’s a bad person. Not at all. He just so…corporate. Seemed like he was always reading from a script. Even when he would say things like, “kicking ass and taking names.” I used to wonder what he was like, once he got home and took the suit and tie off. For years, I read about this dude and would think, “who are you?!” 😂 Maybe my curiosity is part of what made him so appealing. I may not have liked his interviews, but I still wondered about him! Never did that with other gaming figures. 🤷🏿♂️ 😂
@SteamEngenius IIRC, the Turok game did require you to switch constantly.
@outsider83 the difference between Phil Spencer and Reggie, I think, is that Reggie never claimed to be anything he isn't when it came to his gaming experience. Reggie might not have been a 'gamer' but he sure was passionate about the gaming industry and Nintendo as a whole which is what I'm looking for from a businessman. Phil Spencer tries to 'fit in' by flashing his gamer card but I don't he particularly cares about the industry or the division he represents.
The D-Pad and L button being rarely used is well... simply because there aren't enough 2D platformers on the N64, even in comparison to the PS1. I feel like it is to blame it on various developers for feeling obligated to develop 3D games during the 32-bit/64-bit era, especially since they probably could've developed and/or ported over games like Symphony of the Night, or make "2.5D" remakes instead of many dysfunctional 3D games...at least Rare knew what they were doing.
Heh, what do you know? No wonder Microsoft chose to acquire Rare.
@CaptainCluck Dam right, I slightly preferred the Wavebird to originals but the best in my opinion too.
how he wasn't really into modern consoles before the original Xbox - so, he did a "crash course" and went out and bought the N64 and PlayStation.
That's all we need to know this p^%=/& has no concept of gaming development. So now we know it's only in for the money not for the love of gaming. His true colors are finally revealed and it's more of a disappointment then anyone expected.
Removed - inappropriate
@GrailUK And then they came out wity the Wiimote controller which required you to use the D-pad all the time. Then with the Joy-Con they removed the D-Pad all together. Nintendo is always trying something different. I wonder if they thought about releasing the opposite of the Switch Lite: A Switch home console without a screen. And then those with it can have an option to use a regular Switch as controller. With some bonus, ala Wii U, second screen action.
@Stocksy not at all. You can friend Phil on Xbox and see him playing all the time. He’s a gamer for sure.
@Royalblues yeah, he literally said he played PC games
Well I am pretty sure nintendo intended the n64 controller for 2 handed users but with 2 grip configurations.
I found that I mostly played in the analoge stick grip mode but I think pokemon stadium ditched that mode and went for the d-pad mode. I could be wrong though, this was ages ago.
And even so I think that some games gave all buttons functionality, which probably meant that the devs didn't understand the controller.
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