As we all know, the N64 controller comes in a variety of different colors. One of the most noticeable is the color gold. We know that this color was available as a Toys R Us special (blister pack), bundled with various N64 console boxed-sets (North America, Europe, Australia, Japan), in 2 different colored boxes in Japan (gold and white), and used in several places where they were offered as promotional items (Nintendo Power 100 catalog) or given out as prizes (E3 1997 Star Fox 64 competition). But do you know the true origins of the very 1st gold controller?
The first 1000 gold N64 controllers were offered as prizes back in March of 1997 by Nintendo Power. In Issue #94 (March '97) on pages 34 and 35 was the "Mario Kart 64 Nintendo Power Cup" contest. Two issues later, in #96 (May '97) on pages 76 and 77 were some of the winning times from the contest. This makes the 1000 gold controllers from this contest as the very first ones that were available in N64 history. E3 1997 was held in Atlanta, Georgia in July. The NP100 controllers were orderable via the Super Power Supplies catalog that came with issue #100 (September '97).
One of a 1000
Up until now we thought there is probably no way to identify any of the 1000 gold controllers that were given out as part of this contest unless someone had the original shipping box from Nintendo + contest winning letter (was unconfirmed). And even then, the controller physically looks to be identical to a normal gold controller.
It turns out that the "Mario Kart 64 Nintendo Power Cup" contest was also held in Japan. Possibly even slightly earlier as in the USA but we cannot confirm that. This is one of these winning controllers from Japan, it came with a plain cardboard box that has the same exact shape as most of the other Japanese controllers but with out any print on it. This may be because the original solid colors that came out earlier had a different box shape and this was actually the prototype of the new box design.
It also came with a contest winning letter and several credit card style Mario Kart licenses. One detail is also pretty amazing: It was made in Japan! All other gold N64 Controllers that were bundled or available separately, even the NP100 were “Made in China” (except the E3 – but this one actually has a black bottom)
So the only way to distinguish if a controller is one of the first 1000 gold ones is to check if it was "Made in Japan" This one is it and makes it a truly unique item and a piece of video game history
So we can now verify that this is actually one of the first 1000 Gold Controllers. However, if it was the
first will likely forever remain a mystery.