It’s pretty easy to write an article about lists. People like lists, of anything. Top 10 ugliest dresses. Top 10 sexiest women. Top 10 most delicious animals you shouldn’t eat but did because your friend Dave (who’s really a dick and knows this is bad for you but doesn’t tell you because he craves constant amusement) dared you to. They like categorized things nicely laid out for them that read to a tidy conclusion, upon which they can agree or disagree easily with. That being said, while it’s easy to make a list, it’s not easy to figure out where things should go on said list, especially things like controllers. I feel kind of bad for the older controllers because they’re listed usually as the bad ones, but let’s just look at this from my standpoint, shall we, and see what you all think:
Let’s start at the top, number 10 as the worst (or weirdest, not necessarily the worst) and head down the list to the #1 which is the best or coolest.
#10 Anything Made By Madcatz
That’s all I’m going to say about that. Google.
#9 Nintendo 64
This to me is a no brainer. From what started out a simple 2 button and dpad layout evolved into THIS. Obviously, something went wrong along the way. The controller clearly got into college, forgot about being straight edge, started experimenting with drugs and started turning tricks, devolving to this monstrosity. I rarely played my 64 as a kid, and this is one of the biggest reasons why. To stand playing a game, you need two essential things. The game has to be fun and the controller has to make sense. If the controller doesn’t make any sense, and it feels weird to control, then you’re probably not going to enjoy it. I mean, what ran through Nintendos head when they pitched this design? Were they TRYING to infuriate people? And I’m a bit of a fanboy for Nintendo because they’re still all about making games just be fun and not bogging them down with the things people are overcritical about these days but man, Nintendo…what the heck happened?
#8 The Intellivision Controller
This thing is just…what is it. That’s not a gaming controller. That’s a remote control. They made a remote control. It’s got a keypad and the precursor to the dpad (the o-pad?) and you hold it like you would a Wiimote for most games, which was weird then and is still weird now. I mean, let’s face it, the Intellivision was made by Mattel ok? In 1978. The only thing they had to compare it to was the Atarai 2600, so their competition was pretty sparce in terms of design elements. Not to mention that Mattel was a TOY company. The company responsible for Transformers and Barbie and My Little Pony. Not exactly what you would want designing your stuff. Do these things let the blame a little off the hook? I guess. But it’s still weird and ugly as heck.
#7 The Original Xbox
The original Xbox controller felt right after you used it for 80 hours, but even still it had something about it-the bulkyness I feel-that just never clicked. It was oddly shaped, extremely large and frankly kind of hard to hold. It got to the point where I wanted to play my Xbox but I couldn’t because I just couldn’t stand holding that monster anymore. It looks like a bad spaceship from an old scifi movie. Like I said at the start of this list, this is all just my personal experiences with it but it definitely explains why I didn’t play as many games on the original Xbox as I should’ve. When a controller is unpleasant, the experience is unpleasant. It’s fat and weird and it cried in the bathroom during lunch because it liked theatre more than football. I’m just not a fan. Which makes #1 on this list a bit ironic.
I’m really on the fence about this one. I for one loved the Dreamcast. It doesn’t get nearly enough credit that it deserves, and it was WAY ahead of its time. Honestly, a lot of the stuff we do now (especially internet connectivity) was helmed here. This was the start. If Sega had done it correctly, who knows what condition the gaming world would be in today. Things may be COMPLETELY different. But that being said, the controller was kind of…odd. It’s a lot like the original Xbox controller actually. It’s not necessarily that it’s unusable, it’s more just that it’s flat out awkward. It’s clunky, and kind of hard to hold. I like the memory card slot on the top, but overall it’s just…well, weird. Which is why it’s here. I do like it more than the original Xbox controller however, but that’s a personal feeling.
I loved the PS1. It was probably the console I played the most after my Genesis as a kid, but it’s controller has just never sat well with me. The dpad has always felt weird, and the little handles on the side are just frankly uncomfortable. It’s shape and design isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just that it’s ugly. And it hasn’t really changed either. I mean, I like that they have consistency between their consoles but the one thing in their consoles that actually needs improvement is the controller. The button layout, the pause button (the bumpers are fine, actually probably the first console I ever saw bumpers on) and the joystick. Ugh. I recently played through Spyro again and while it was a blast, I had a myriad of problems due solely to the controller. My possible favorite console with my least favorite controller. A shame.
#4 The Wiimote
This might anger some folks. While Nintendo may have gone a bit overboard with the 64 controller, they definitely simplified it with the Wiimote. And I’m not even talking about the “wave it at the screen like a magic wand” aspect. I mean when you turn it on it’s side and use it like an old school controller. It’s dang near perfect honestly. The shape is a bit too slim and unfortunately the fact that it’s seen more as a toy than a controller has lent itself to some poor reviews and thoughts but honestly, it’s one of the better ones I’ve played with. Playing New Super Mario Bros or Kirby on it have been wonderful. It’s odd looking, but it works exceedingly well. Give it a try. Really.
#3 Sega Genesis
This one and the one below it are pretty much the same. Elegant, look fine (until Sega started doing the whole “see through” and whatnot stuff) and are very easy to use. Classic design, buttons, a dpad, and felt right in your hands. Now some of the other Sega controllers are downright BIZARRE, almost even so much as to possibly rival the 64 controller. But the regular old Genesis controllers? Fine. Absolutely fine. Wish I had more to say but I don’t.
#2 The NES/Super Nintendo
Same as above, except they never got weird like Genesis did with the whole customized and see through stuff. Flat in your hands, buttons, easy dpad, looked great. Simple. Perfection for the time.
#1 The Xbox 360
Ah, the 360 controller. Perfection incarnate. Now it was hard to choose between the original NES and this but frankly, the reason I chose this is because unlike the original NES, this isn’t rectangular. Those edges hurt eventually. They dug into your palms. The 360 controller, everything about it, is flawless. The center icon to bring up your mini dash, the handles on the side which are now elongated versions of the original nubs and the button and joystick placement. It’s not only pleasant to hold, it’s pleasant to look at. It’s visually appealing. I’m surprised there isn’t porn about it. (WARNING: There is probably porn about it). It’s the first time I’ve picked up a controller since the NES and had NO PROBLEMS AT ALL. That alone says something.