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It's not 1997, but N64 controllers are out of stock until 2022

A closeup view of a Nintendo 64 original controller.
(Image credit: Tonelson Productions | Shutterstock)

No, it's not 1997, and no, GoldenEye 007 isn't the top game on every kid's Christmas list. But special Nintendo Switch-enabled N64 controllers are sold out until 2022 nonetheless. 

How did we get to this point? During a Nintendo Direct online presentation in September, the company unveiled a new tier to its Nintendo Switch Online subscription service. Titled Expansion Pack, the premium membership would add N64 and Sega Genesis games to the service.

These weren't bargain-bin games, but instead top N64 titles such as Mario Kart 64, Star Fox 64 and The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. And on Nintendo's online store, you could buy wireless N64 controllers to connect to the standard Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite and the Nintendo Switch OLED, for that even more authentic Clinton-era experience. 

Unfortunately, just like everything else during this pandemic, those N64 controllers are now out of stock. 

See you next year

This sad news comes by way of Eurogamer (opens in new tab). If you take a gander at Nintendo's online store (opens in new tab), it states that N64 controllers, which were already limited to four per Nintendo account, are all sold out and won't be restocked until 2022. Exactly when in 2022 is not stated. 

Predictably, wireless N64 controllers are now being scalped online for more than double the $50 list price. 

Fortunately for Sega fans, the Sega Genesis controllers are still in stock for the same $50. However, Nintendo opted to make only the standard three-button Genesis controller available, not the six-button variant that was popular for fighting games. 

That may be why the Genesis controllers haven't sold out, or perhaps because Nintendo plans to release (opens in new tab) the six-button controller in Japan. Sega fans may be waiting for Nintendo to bring the six-button Sega Genesis controller stateside. 

It's also possible for fans to import units from overseas, although Nintendo does not guarantee (opens in new tab) that accessories purchased from one region will work in another. 

The controller shortage isn't the only problem

The $50 Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack hasn't met with the greatest acclaim from fans, who see it as a cheap cash-grab by Nintendo and have made the  overview trailer (opens in new tab)  the least liked (opens in new tab) video on Nintendo's YouTube channel.

The service adds only older titles and doesn't address underlying infrastructure problems that plague online gameplay on the console. Compared to the PS5 and Xbox Series X, Nintendo's online performance is choppy and slow. 

For example, Mario Kart 64 includes online play, which should be great, but the performance has been a laggy mess. Some matches are borderline unplayable, if you believe videos (opens in new tab) posted online. Not only that, but the N64 game emulation also has input latency and other graphical oddities. 

Hopefully Nintendo will have addressed these issues by the time N64 controllers come back in stock sometime next year.

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.