Friday, June 08, 2007

Control This


While listening to a recent Major Nelson podcast, the subject of the top 5 best console controllers in the history of gaming came up (sure I said I was going to write a review of gametap, but after hearing this list, I couldn't hold my tongue). I'm not sure where Major got the list but after getting home and looking it up online, I found the exact same list on the CNET/UK forum. Here were the top 5 all time console controllers, according to some bloke, in no particular order.
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SNES
Atari 2600
N64
PS2 Dualshock
Xbox 360
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Personally I love top 5 lists, they're a great conversation starter and this one is no exception. Lets take a look at these one at a time.
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SNES - Not a bad choice. I played so many Madden and NHL games on this system in college that I could probably still pick it up and play it like a pro. Fits well in the hand, simple button layout and everything was easy to reach. But if I was going to choose the best Nintendo controller, I'd take the original NES controller because it was so groundbreaking. It perfected the use of the D-pad, and had a simple, yet brilliantly effective control scheme. I loved playing Super Mario with this controller.
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Atari 2600 - Great choice and certainly in my top 5. Sure it was stiff as a board, caused wicked blisters and could occasionally snap like a twig if a kid was overly aggressive with it (not that I would ever do that), but its a classic because it was a smooth transition from the arcade into the home. One button, one stick? Brilliant.
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N64 - What the heck is this guy smoking?!? The N64 controller was one of the ugliest, most poorly designed controllers ever created! Just look at that picture up top. No, seriously. First of all, it was waaay to big, especially for kids. The yellow directional buttons were too small, the A and B button were too close to the yellow buttons, the stick was poorly placed and it looked like a boomerang. Its a piece of junk and just looking at it makes my eyes cross. My choice to takes its place? The Dreamcast controller. It was a little clunky but I loved the VMU, very innovative. Why hasn't anybody else done something like that?
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PS2 Dualshock - I absolutely love this controller and I have no idea why Sony made some of the changes it did with the PS3 controller (no rumble, slick as snot trigger buttons) that just didn't work. The PS2 controller is almost perfect. Two analog sticks with a nice tactile grip, rumble in each hand, a solid D-pad, and the perfect triangle, square, circle, X placement. Sure it was missing a trigger and wasn't wireless but it was still terrific. My second favorite controller.
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Xbox 360 - Now we're cooking with gas. When I first bought my 360 and opened up the package, one of the first things that caught my eye was the controller, a significant improvement on the two previous Xbox controllers. The 360 model has almost perfect weight and size, a surprisingly effective off-center analog stick placement, the traditional D-pad and four button layout, two solid triggers, a headset jack, a guide button to access other functions and best of all, its wireless. The only thing missing? A motion sensor ala the Wiimote. But I wouldn't be surprised to see it in future 360 controller iterations.
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I know what you're thinking. Why isn't the Wiimote in your top 5? Its certainly not lacking innovation or creativity (rumble, motion and a speaker?!?) and will definitely be remembered long after the Wii has been retired. But because its only been out for less than a year its too hard to tell where it'll rank in the long run. That and on some games (Red Steel, Need for Speed, Far Cry, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance) it gets in its own way. Only time will tell if its top 5 material.

3 comments:

Ub3rn00b said...

For the N64 controller, the stick was also one of the most easily breakable pieces of junk ever created. I still have one with a N64 to PC adapter for playing N64 ROMS and I ordered the controller through Ebay. I received it with the stick already broken. That saved me the grief of having to break it myself. After getting my refund, I bought one locally and it seems alot more sturdy. I don't know if they made newer versions with better sticks or what.

chris said...

I personally really liked the dreamcast controller. I am sure I am in the minority on this one, but it had some great features. It probably could have been a little smaller but I really liked it.

Ub3rn00b said...

I enjoyed the first Nintendo controller. I also liked the NES Advantage. The Genesis controller was ok, but...things started to go downhill at that point. I have a NES controller hooked up to my computer right now via a USB adapter. I'm working my way through the first Final Fantasy at the moment. hehe...