N64 controllers are notorious for having loose joysticks, which can be problematic when trying to play your favorite games. New third party controllers are not only expensive but are also not as robust as the originals. There is, however, an easy and straight forward fix that will allow you to restore your original N64 controllers to working condition. These instructions will help you successfully tighten the loose joystick on the controller, making gaming much more enjoyable. No technical skill is required and you can do it all using common household supplies.
Step 1: Gather the Needed Supplies
Make sure you have the following before you begin:
- N64 controller
- Small Phillips screwdriver (the smaller the better)
- Small container (to hold the loose screws)
- Tape (preferably duct tape)
- 30-60 minutes
Step 2: Remove the Screws Holding the Controller Together
Carefully turn the N64 controller upside down without putting extensive force on the joystick. Remove the nine screws as shown in the picture. Two of the screws are hidden inside the memory cartridge area.
Step 3: Place the Loose Screws in the Small Container
Carefully turn the controller right-side up. Place the screws in the container and move it out of the way to a safe place where it will not be accidentally bumped.
Step 4: Remove the Back Half of the Controller
With the screws removed, the two halves of the controller are no longer connected. Remove the back half by lifting it upward and set it to the side.
Step 5: Remove the Joystick Assembly
This step can be tricky. The joystick assembly is held in place by three silver screws and is partially covered by the z-button pad. In order to remove it, the pad must first be removed. To the left and right of the blue pad there are two small plastic tabs that hold it in place. Using both hands, slightly bend them to the side in order to free the pad. DO NOT bend them too much or they will break. Bend them slowly and eventually the pad will pop free.
NOTE: It is not uncommon for one of these plastic tabs to break or already be broken. If this is the case, the pad should already be free to move. While this is not ideal, the controller will still function as intended. The pictured controller has one broken tab.
Once the pad is clear, remove the three silver screws and place them with the others in the container. The joystick assembly can now be removed.
Step 6: Open the Joystick Assembly
The joystick can only be removed by opening up the joystick assembly. To do this, first remove the remaining black screw. The dark gray piece should begin to lift itself off the light gray piece, but they will still be connected via two plastic tabs as shown in the pictures. As before, use both hands to slightly bend the tabs and free the two pieces from each other.
NOTE: If you are having difficulty with the tabs, try bending them one at a time. Once the first side is free, the second can be freed much easier.
Step 7: Remove the Joystick
Before removing the joystick, carefully look at the assembled pieces to get a feel for how they fit together. An understanding of this will allow you to more easily reassemble the pieces.
Disassemble the joystick assembly to isolate the joystick. Set the other pieces to the side or place them in the container with the screws.
Step 8: Cut a Thin Piece of Tape
Cut a thin piece of duct tape, roughly 3/4 inch long and 1/8 inch wide as pictured.
Step 9: Wrap the Tape Around the Joystick
There is a thin section between the very bottom of the joystick and the rounded ball section. Wrap the tape around this thin section.
Step 10: Reassemble the Controller
This is the final step. Verify that you have all of the necessary parts to reassemble the controller, then retrace your steps by undoing everything that was just done. When you are finished, your controller should look just as it did to start but the joystick will be much tighter and more responsive. No matter which direction you move it, it will promptly snap back into place. You have successfully restored your N64 controller to working condition.
NOTE: The joystick will have a very snug fit during reassembly. This is normal. If it feels too tight, try using a shorter piece of tape so that it is wrapped around the joystick fewer times.
NOTE: The L and R buttons may fall out during assembly. If this happens, place them back in their spots and try again.