WinBack N64: Complete Switch Controls Guide and Tips for Beginners

The game that revolutionised third-person shooters is back with the Switch’s Expansion Pass. Here are the controls and some gameplay tips so you can successfully complete Operation WinBack.


The game credited with setting the stage for the likes of Metal Gear Solid and Gears of War, WinBack reappears as part of the Switch Online Expansion Pass. WinBack’s gameplay seems so familiar even though it has been 20 years since its launch – primarily because so many of its mechanics were copied into others. The ability to take cover behind objects has become a staple in shooter games since WinBack’s debut in 1999.

You take the role of Jean-Luc Cougar as you infiltrate a terrorist group bent on using a satellite for mass destruction. The game is as much about stealth as it is about the shooting.


Here, you can find all of the WinBack controls for Switch and N64 compatibility, with some gameplay tips added in further down.

WinBack Nintendo Switch controls

  • Move: LS
  • Aim: LS (while holding R)
  • Fire: R + A
  • Reload: B
  • Melee: A (when enemy is close)
  • Target: RS (down)
  • Take Cover: A (when against a wall, crate, or other covering)
  • Crouch: ZL
  • Roll: ZL + A (while moving)
  • Interact: A (when blue markers appear around item, door, and others)
  • Change Weapon: RS (up)
  • Pan Camera Right and Left: RS (left and right)

WinBack N64 Accessory controls

  • Move: Joystick
  • Aim: Joystick (while holding R)
  • Fire: R + A
  • Reload: B
  • Melee: A (when enemy is close)
  • Target: C-Down
  • Take Cover: A (when against a wall, crate, or other covering)
  • Crouch: Z
  • Roll: Z + A (while moving)
  • Interact: A (when blue markers appear around item, door, and others)
  • Change Weapon: C-Up
  • Pan Camera Right and Left: C-Left and C-Right

For the Nintendo Switch WinBack controls, the left and right analogue sticks are shown as LS and RS.

How to get good at WinBack

WinBack has a detailed Tutorial mode that walks you through how to perform every function in the game and overcome most obstacles that you will encounter. The Tutorial is playable as many times as you need; there are times where you do not have to move on if you want to keep practising what you just learned or relearned.

The most important mechanics to master are taking cover (A againt certain objects), targeting (RS down, C-Down), shooting (R + A), crouching (ZL, Z), and rolling (ZL + A, Z + A, both while moving). Mastering these will take you a long way to beating the game with the most desired ending.


How best to take cover in WinBack

Sure, taking cover is simple: just go up to a wall, crate, car, or other barrier and press A. However, it is imperative to have situational awareness when taking cover.

At times, it will be pretty straightforward, like the picture above, with there being only one path. At other times, there are multiple openings to worry about, sometimes leaving you open at certain angles even while covered. Ensure that the enemies in your vulnerable spots are taken care of before moving forwards, lest you want an early death.

Certain cover items – crates, low walls – will require you to crouch to gain full cover. Otherwise, you will have your back to foes with your entire upper half showing! The issue with crates is that they will be destroyed after being shot a certain number of times (five times with your handgun), leaving you open andwithout any cover.


In WinBack, it’s always best to have more than one avenue of escape and to identify them as you set-up for combat.

How to quickly eliminate enemies in WinBack

The Targeting mechanic (RS down, C-Down) might be your go-to tactic because it locks onto enemies, jumping from one to another (if near) upon the death of the former. It is particularly effective when taking cover and dealing with several enemies as it helps you to focus your shots accurately and quickly.

When Targeting is employed, a small green box will appear on your enemy. The drawback to Targeting is that it centres on the body of your enemies. While this is smart in terms of targeting the largest area, it takes more shots to down them. Further, especially when they are behind cover, the enemies tend to stagger backwards enough that your bullets hit their cover instead of them.

For expediency, you may want to forgo Targeting and aim for headshots, which will quickly down your opponents. However, there are two big drawbacks to this approach: you need precise accuracy and timing to avoid being shot, and you’ll offer an extended time in which you are vulnerable.

You can also sneak up behind opponents in WinBack and take them down with a melee strike. However, if they are in front of you or detect you, it will take several melee strikes to kill your enemy.

Another way to get kills more quickly is to look out for exploding objects to shoot. There will be boxes, barrels, and other items that you can shoot in the environment, which can quickly eliminate a swarm of enemies. These items are coloured red or have some red markings around them. Shooting them will cause a big explosion. Whenever possible, shoot these first!

What are the best guns to use in WinBack?

Understanding which gun is optimal for each situation is key. If you are in a narrow alley or space like the waterway, busting out the shotgun may work the best because its spread shot can most efficiently inflict damage. If you are being rushed by many enemies, the assault rifle is your best shot because of its rapid-fire design.

However, for most situations, your handgun will be the best option for two reasons. First, you have unlimited handgun ammo while your shotgun and assault rifle have a limited supply. You can find ammo to refill during your adventure, but it would behove you to focus on the handgun. With the handgun mastered, you can take on anything that comes your way in WinBack.

How to disarm laser sensors in WinBack

To destroy the laser sensors, aim and shoot the power source of the sensor, as shown above. A single shot should be enough. This will then open your path. Throughout the game, you will find many areas cut-off by lasers that will result in your immediate death should you touch them.

However, deeper into the game, you may need to backtrack to find the sensor to destroy, sometimes needing to clear objects before backtracking. Eliminating some of the power sources may also lead to different sensors than you were expecting from being disarmed.

Sometimes, the sensors are blocking areas that you do not need to enter, but mostly have items like ammo and health that will prove helpful. Regardless, avoid the lasers and seek out their power sources to disarm them.

Have a back-up gameplan for bosses in WinBack

Bosses have unique abilities and tendencies, so do not approach each with the same tactics. With one boss, you may need to run around a multi-level building, taking cover behind pillars as they try to murder you in flamboyant fashion. Others may just rush at you. Understanding their tendencies will be the best way to dispatch them quickly.

How to interact with objects and pick up items in WinBack

In WinBack, you can enter a building and check various items by pressing A to interact with them once a blue icon appears, as shown above. While speed does play a role in the game, always check every building for items like ammo and health.

The same applies while outside of buildings. Check every nook and cranny for ammo and health, hitting A when the blue icon appears around each. This includes picking up some C4 here and there because everyone likes a good explosion.

How to set-up WinBack multiplayer modes

To play WinBack with multiple players, you need to select ‘Play Online’ from the N64 menu on your Nintendo Switch, and then invite your friends to your created room. You can apply a password to this, but it’s easier to send the invitations and wait for them to accept and join.

That’s all that you need to know to be successful in WinBack. Now show your friends and the CPU that you’re the master of classic stealth combat.


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Bruce L

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