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Legends of Gaming History: Meet the Three Armed Man Who Designed the Nintendo 64 Controller

REDMOND, Wash. — Passing him on the street, one might think that Ross Palmer was just like any other guy when in reality he is one of the most influential figures in gaming history. After nearly thirty years, Ross Palmer is finally stepping out of the shadows to discuss his visionary role in the Nintendo 64 controller’s controversial design.

“When I first started at Nintendo of America in 1994, they stuck me in the mailroom, likely so they didn’t have to look at my grotesque appendage,” said Palmer, effortlessly curling a forty-pound dumbbell with his extra arm. “I’ve been a Nintendo fan for as long as I can remember. As a kid, if I wasn’t rolling in a puddle just outside the nuclear plant, I was racking up points in Duck Hunt with my trusty light gun. So, when the design team said they were accepting pitches for the new console’s controller, I knew I had to take a shot.”

The Nintendo 64, was fast approaching its release date and designers were confounded by the novel task of developing a controller for 3D gameplay. Luckily, Ross Palmer brought them their solution.

“I remember playing with the original NES controller and using two of my hands to grip the sides but thinking, where do I put my third hand? Does it press the buttons? That didn’t make any sense so usually it would just dangle in the middle while my normie arms did all the work. So when I heard they needed pitches for controller designs, I put together a prototype for a controller that just made more sense.”

On the day of Palmer’s pitch, Shigeru Miyamoto just happened to be touring the American offices and sat in for the meeting. 

“When I first saw the controller, I thought it was a prank,” said Miyamoto-san. “I laughed at the stupid design for nearly ten minutes which the Americans mistook for approval. I kept shouting, ‘Throw that hideous thing in the garbage! Are you people being for real right now?’ But my translator was in the bathroom so they just thought I was excited about the design. Everyone smiled and shook the three-armed guy’s hand like he cracked the code. Whatever. I’m rich now.”

The Nintendo 64 went on to become one of the most iconic consoles of all time, with Palmer’s design giving hope to three-armed children everywhere.

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