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The Best and Worst Controllers of All Time

The Best and Worst Controllers of All Time

By Robert Runyon

Think of what you hold in your hand throughout the day. You hold a spoon for your cereal or yogurt. You hold your cell phone. You hold a pen or pencil. You even hold books, if you’re still into those. But what object do you hold for hours at time in your hand without even thinking about it? The video game controller.

You can spend hours at a time holding a controller without even thinking of it. The best controllers are the ones that you forget even exist. They become a part of you. With the worst, well, you certainly know you're using a controller.

To start, the worst:

3. The Nintendo Power Glove: The original NES controller, if you can still remember it, was a marvel of simplicity. It was light and easy to use. It only had a D-Pad and four buttons. That wasn’t enough for Nintendo. They turned the controller into a glove, added a bunch of number keys, and gave it the ability to sense movement (poorly). The kid in The Wizard had the Power Glove’s best review.

2. Original Xbox: The Xbox 360 controller is one of the finest ever created, but it’s the result of a long series of fine-tuning. Older Halo veterans can remember the days of failing to reach the black and white buttons because their thumbs were too short. Holding this thing was like playing video games with a Bop-It.

1. Atari Jaguar: The Jaguar distills everything that can be terrible in a controller into one package. It retains the keypad from the Power Glove, so someone can make a phone call in the middle of a game of NBA Jam. Then, it’s the size of a comic book. Even more, it’s shaped like a box. Let’s be thankful the system was never popular. The Atari Jaguar could have been the leading cause of early-onset arthritis among kids born between 1980 and 1995.

Now, the greatest:

3. The Rock Band ION Drum Rocker: This one’s meant for everyone who told you to play a real instrument when you played Rock Band. The ION Drum Rocker is a real electronic drum kit. If you plug it in to an amp, you’re playing the drums. In theory, mastery of this video game controller could lead you into becoming the next Keith Moon (But most likely, you’ll just get tired of Rock Band like everyone else).

2. The Steel Battalion Controller: Through the years, the video game controller has become more and more complicated. At first, it was a joy stick and a button. Now, an Xbox 360 controller has two sticks, a D-pad, and thirteen buttons to think about. That’s nothing. The little-known mech game Steel Battalion came with a virtual mech cockpit controller, featuring more than 50 buttons, knobs, sticks, and switches. Using it, you could do standard things such as moving your mech around and shooting bad guys, and also do banal things like turning on the windshield wipers. The next installment will be Kinect-enabled, so users will only have to use a standard Xbox 360 controller, in addition to moving to get around the virtual version of the cockpit.

1. The PlayStation DualShock: Yes, Sony blatantly ripped off the Super Nintendo controller when they created the PlayStation controller. But, if you’re going to copy something, you may as well copy the best. Sony took something good and improved on it, adding ergonomic handles, and well-placed trigger buttons. Then they made it even better by adding analog control sticks. That was in 1997. Aside from the Sixaxis feature, Sony hasn’t changed the controller for fifteen years. The DualShock is the model of function and reliability.

What's your favorite game console controller?

Tags: games, nintendo, video games, xbox, atari

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