Ever played a game so much, so vigorously that you melted a joystick on your controller? Chances are, probably not. But we know someone who has.
The year is 1997, Nintendo Power has just issued a challenge – beat a time of 1:30:00 on the Mario Circuit in the just-released Mario Kart game and 1000 lucky winners will receive an exclusive “gold” N64 controller. Even if you had a controller you cherished already – even a snazzy blue one – the chance to win an exclusive controller, especially for a game you like to play so much already, is just too good to pass up.
To put things in perspective, the N64 controller wasn't going to win an beauty contests. A bit on the bulky side, it looked like a big M with the analog stick right in the middle, as the D-pad era was not quite finished. That analog stick was key to Mario Kart, as you had to utilize it for the all-important power slide, which essentially meant waggling it back and forth over and over again. As a result, any controller used in this fashion would be subjected to a lot of wear and tear over time.
Now back to the contest. For someone who was adept at beating all the ghosts, getting 1:30 on the Mario Circuit wasn’t that tough. You’re going to get good putting in 100+ hours on any game. But when times were posted in issue #96 of Nintendo Power, well, they were outrageous! In days long before Twitter or even widespread Internet use, it wasn’t apparent at first that these miraculous times were not the work of a great racer, but a dirty cheat. To someone bound and determined to have the best time without cheating, well, he would just have to play a level over and over and over.
Let’s just say that when plastic dust particles start coming out of your controller, it’s not a good sign. How many power slides does it take to melt a controller? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Like the Tootsie Pop commercial says – we may never know. But soon enough, you realize that turning right is becoming a major issue – controls are sluggish, and soon your once-prized blue controller is now the black sheep.
You could buy a new one, but money is tight in high school, so you keep nursing it along – maybe using the old “best player uses worst controller” tactic. It’s not just Mario Kart, either. It’s amazing how good you can be at Goldeneye using only left turns in multiplayer.
It’s true that the owner “claims” the controller was in some way defective. So what if he’s used plenty of other controllers in the same way and never had another one melt. It’s a nice theory, but somehow I like the idea that it was dedication to gaming, not manufacture error, that leads to earning a melted joystick.
~ The MeltedJoystick Team