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Gold 1997 Limited Edition E3 N64 Controller

The very first N64 Gold controller came from the 1997 E3 held in Atlanta, Georgia. Here there was a StarFox 64 competition where four people could compete at a time, sitting inside machines that were Airwing replicas. The winner of the round received this gold/black controller with a gold “N” logo.

It looks cool and is pretty damn rare. In fact, one just sold on NA for $401.00.

This is what the seller posted in their for sale thread:

E3,1997 in Atlanta,GA – Prob my Favorite E3 ever

Starfox64 was a few months away from its American release and was being shown off to the US for the first time at E3. They had kiosks all around the Nintendo booth to play on, and after you practiced and learned all the ins and outs you could get in the looooooooooong line and compete in a Starfox64 4p battle mode.

Now this line was anywhere from 1-3 hours depending, so that’s a lot of valuable E3 time down the drain if you come up empty handed. (ok, so I think you got a sticker or something for not being first) Your best bet was probably to count out the line and go in with 3 other friends so one of you would surely walk away a winner, but even then you risk pissing off the rest of your group forever.

Well, I only had one other person with me and he didn’t want to wait it out, so after I was content with seeing everything at E3, on the last day of the show I decided to go for it.

Now the line isn’t nearly as impressive as the one for the 3DS this past year, in fact it looked deceivingly small, but with long battles and only 4 players at a time it wasn’t a fun standing up in line wait. Least when you got closer you could see into the Nintendo tent and watch the games being played.

I really wished camera phones were around (or that I had a cam then in general) because I have no pics of it, but imagine going into a closed off dark room tent with stars on the ceiling made to look like space, and then getting into a real Starfox Arwing ship that actually moved up and down. Each player had their own ship with a controller attached, and they faced a huge projection screen with all the action. I remember lasers even shooting out of your ship to make sure you knew what screen was yours before it started.

Now I’m finally up and had no idea who I was up against, but I’m nervous and giddy as a schoolgirl at the same time. I remember taking the early lead and that my hand was shaking uncontrollably with excitement. Well, after a few minutes of space murder, I realized that controller was as good as mine.

. . . oh yea, I forgot to mention that I had been playing the Japanese version for months before this.

It almost felt like cheating, but damnit I wanted that controller. The play by play announcer over the intercom even started laughing and making comments like, “I think someones been playing the impooort”

Buuut, after the most exciting Starfox battle of my life, it was finally over and I shook the Nintendo guys hand as he gave me my prize. He made some small talk and laughed with me, and then asked if I wanted to wait a few minutes to compete once more. Of course I said yes. He said he had someone already, and that we would take the next two winners and have an all winner game.

Well, it was a tougher battle that I barely managed to win, but surprisingly afterwards he gave me 3 more gold controllers to complete a set of 4. Good day and a great ending to my first E3

Slippy ftw!

Ok, well there it is. Good memories, but its been sitting in a box for many years now, so when I noticed other collectors here were actually seeking it out, I figured I would entertain offers. $, trades, whatever.

It’s just a standard gold controller with a special shinny “N” sticker attached. They actually meant a lot more to me until Toys R Us released gold controllers to everyone. Then it just didn’t feel so special and we used them as out championship belt controllers in games like Revenge and No Mercy. i’m pretty sure I gave one of them to a friend after that, and sold another (for less than $40) Now I’m just hoping I actually still have 2 in my possession.

It’s one of those controllers you might pass over when you see if first, but know that you know about it, it’s definitely something to keep your eyes open for.


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  1. Wow, I’ve had one of these since E3 as well and had always assumed it was the same as the later gold N64 controllers that came out. I’ll have to dig up the E3 hat I have and sell them as a package.

  2. My boyfriend just picked up this controller from his local games shop for $25 the other day.

    Now that he knows the origin, it makes him very happy to own such a wondrous piece of Nintendo history! Best I got is the EarthBound box set.

  3. I was the one that purchased the controller from this article. There are only about half a dozen of these controllers from E3 1997 that we currently know to exist. For more information, do a search for Nintendo64 Forever and there are several topics on the forums there about this controller.

  4. The first n64 gold controllers were 1 of 1000 won in a Mario kart power cup contest in march 1997. I won one and still have it in original box sent from Nintendo in June of 97. Also have the original congradlation card sent with it. Never used all packaging material included bag’box’twist ties’ box postage from Nintendo included. Yes is for sale, I need new car

  5. E3 was in July. Mine. Is postmarked June 17 1997 from Nintendo. Won from march 97 contest. Bag its in has N1 stamped in red top n bottom. Card is two sided picture one side. And congrats paragraph on the other. The gold sheen of controller is brighter than toys r us one. Pic of 3 things together is in nintendage website price check. Has anyone ever heard of someone opening one of these first gold controllers Ever released by Nintendo? N1 really inside ? Rumor I heard. Also numbers inside prove production date. I’m not opening mine have barely touched it. Never even plugged in

  6. I was one of those who won a gold during the Star Fox battles. Waiting in line was a pain, but very much worth it. They also were handing out ‘Flight Wings’ Star Fox 64 pins to those who were competing. I went to E3 with a group of 7 friends, but I was the only one to come home with one. We never got the chance to play each other, as we scattered to the winds with our video cameras to put together an E3 video. FYI, I didn’t get any time with the import. I’d love to have one of those Arwing cockpits! It was a lot of fun and almost everyone was really cool… except the dude I beat to get the controller. He was complaining afterwards that it was bullish*t that I was able to roll-block his shot AND somersault for the kill. He had a potty mouth. It might have been the same guy who tried to elbow me out of the way for the Pokemon they were shooting into the crowd the following E3. Those were the days…

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