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Product Test: Metal GameCube Sticks

30 November, 2020 - 3:43 pm by
About 8 mins to read

We don’t know about you, but our GameCube controller was starting to look a bit ropey. Who can blame it? Over the course of nearly 20 years (WHAT?!) our little black controller has taken a beating. If it had a consciousness, the controller would shudder when games such as Smash Bros and it’s vigorous button mashing, or Mario Party and it’s anger inducing train level were loaded up.

Be it rage, usage or simply the passage of time, our controller has seen better days. While the chunky plastic buttons are working as well as the day they came out of the box, one of the things we’re seeing is that the rubber on our control sticks have started to peel away.

Luckily, the team at Zedlabz (UK based company specialising in replacement parts for repairing and modding your consoles) have been busy at creating a metal alternative to the rubberised control sticks.

Quick important note: Zedlabz sent Joe a couple of these sticks for free as part of their Labratz program. They are prototypes and we’ve not been paid for this review. They only asked for our thoughts on their Instagram and did not know we were relaunching VGamingNews. Since we’ve ordered products through Zedlabz multiple times and their help with our first steps into console modding/repairs has been nothing short of amazing, we thought it would be nice to share our thoughts to a wider audience. Any links included aren’t affiliated, we just love the work they do!

Oh, we’ve never taken a GameCube controller apart before. While were a bit gung-ho, we’d still advise caution and only attempt this at your own risk. This is not a how-to guide and this could void any warranty you might have. Yes, it sounds daft, but ‘Cube controllers are still being manufactured and we’re not taking any responsibility for any mistakes. Sorry.

That said, let’s get into this.

There are six tri-wing screws on the back of the controller and once they were off, the face and buttons lifted straight off. The control sticks are attached to the motherboard and just pop off. Don’t pull too hard and if they’re on the stiff side, use a pry tool. Too much force and you could pull the whole unit off. Nobody wants a broken unit.

Installing our metal sticks was simple enough, just line them up and pop them on. Since they’re made of metal, they are on the stiff side so when you’ve put the controller back together, make sure you push them down firmly or they’ll resist and get stuck in place.

This process took us less than 15 minutes. 5 minutes to disassemble, 10 minutes to arrange the buttons for the perfect shot.

Zedlabz included two sets of sticks for us, one silver and one bronze. These are anodised metal which is quite a cool process. Simply put, they are effectively electrocuted to the desired colours. If they were painted, they would fade much quicker.           View this post on Instagram                      

A post shared by Gaming Accessories|Parts|Mods (@zedlabz)

As we were given two sets, we had fun mixing and matching the combinations. Zedlabz have said more colours will be coming so keep an eye on their Instagram for more details.

Now we’ve installed the sticks, time to play some games.

We decided to start a new file on the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Master Quest and after a few hours of gameplay with the Wavebird, we came away impressed. Apart from the cold, metallic feeling of the sticks, the left stick worked just as well as the original. We thought some target practice over at Hyrule castle would be a good test of responsiveness and we’re pleased it took us two tries to pass the test. That’s muscle memory for you!

It might sound like high praise, and it is. Throughout testing; Pikmin, Luigi’s Mansion, Eternal Darkness and Mario Sunshine, all of the games performed as expected. The only differences were the aforementioned cold feeling, which helped keep our hands cool for those long sessions.

The only trouble came about when we decided to test out the criminally forgotten Soul Calibur II. It is a game that uses both sticks constantly and during intense sessions, the ridges on the left stick that prevent your thumb from slipping can start to rub. After a while it’s like playing a guitar and pushing hard on the strings.

We were told to put them through their paces so we picked the most intensive game we had to hand. This occurred after excessive and prolonged use. It is doubtful most gamers will get to this point on an older machine but it is something to consider. In the event you’re a left-handed guitar player who has a callus on your thumb, you’ll be fine.

The C-stick is a slightly different story. Again, it functioned as you’d expect. Throughout the time with the sticks, they worked in the usual way depending on the game. They didn’t leave us with rubbed thumbs because of the lack of ridging on the top. However, because of the engraved C it did unfortunately make the grip a little slippy side. This wasn’t a big problem in the slower paced games but when you needed a certain action in Soul Calibur, there were a few missed hits.

Zedlabs advised before these were sent that they would remove this from the final product and improve the top so this shouldn’t be a worry for prospective buyers.

After a week of more play than we’d usually dedicate to the GameCube, we’d say that the metal sticks are a suitable replacement if your original sticks need replacing, or if you want to give your controller a fresh new look. The small tweaks to the C-stick will be welcome and we can’t wait to get our hands on the retail versions which are due by the end of the 2020. For more active gamers, it will be worth considering your options. The rubbing on the left stick could be potentially be a problem, but the longevity of these metal variants could override your options. The cost which is set to be about £10-£13 makes these a worthwhile investment.

UPDATE – 11 December 2020:

Zedlabz have been in touch and advised their sticks are now available to buy! They’ve been listed for £12.56 for a pair (left & C-stick) and in a variety of colours. On top of this, they’ve offered a 10% discount code by clicking this link. All you have to is enter your email address and the code will be emailed to you.

We’re not being paid for this feature. We genuinely love these mods and the work Zedlabz are doing!