Maybe it’s not a big deal to most, but to me, it seems certain individuals or certain parties don’t seem to grasp the simple concept of what a game controller should do. It is an interface device that should be easy to use, comfortable to hold, and not full of convoluted buttons and unnecessary extras. While most controllers today are very straight-forward, I would like to take a look back at some of the biggest (literally), most ass-backwards controllers that ever (dis)graced the hands of gamers.
Certainly one of the first odd controllers I ever encountered, this thing just didn’t feel like a Nintendo controller. It felt more akin to a handle you’d use for a flight simulator. It took me a day to realize I now had a ‘Z’ button located underneath the controller. Why the hell would I ever look UNDER my controller for a button? I guess they didn’t have enough room on top of the thing? Who knows. The design itself is just very odd as well. It has two handles on each side, which I understand, but why does the middle handle jut out so far? Why is it even there for that matter? I don’t need three handles to hold this damn thing. It’s not the worst of the bunch, but it was definitely the start of a wave of failures.
As if this system didn’t have enough working against it, Sega decides to deviate from a very functional and well designed controller and turn it into an abomination. First problem, the wire comes out from the back of the controller, not the front. So the area where your hands need to go has this intrusive annoyance of a wire in the way. Why did they do this? To accommodate for the marvelous memory card slot of course! The last thing this controller needed was to have more crap attached to it. Granted the N64 controller did the same thing, but it at least had its memory card dock underneath it, making it slightly less idiotic. To top it off, this controller is by far the most uncomfortable thing I ever used to play a game. How Sega went from the Saturn’s sleek 6-button controller to this junk I’ll never know. Mercifully this terror of an interface device didn’t last long, as the Dreamcast and Sega itself faded into console obscurity (another story for another day) .
Xbox Controller (Original)
Here it is. To me, this is the heavy-weight champion of ill conceived controller design history. Microsoft’s first offering of a controller for their first gaming console was a beast. This thing is gargantuan! And boy did it need the space. Now we had 2 analog sticks to deal with, two new buttons which were simply black and white, (running out of ideas here), and the usual cavalcade of buttons which we are accustomed to. Why oh why is this getting so complicated? I understand that games are more advanced and naturally, this calls for more advanced controls. However, the solution isn’t taking a nice, innocent looking controller design and stuffing it with HGH and steroids. What drives me nuts is that someone actually had to work on making this garbage possible. So, some jackass makes this horrible design and says, “This is great! Look at the size of it! I’m a genius!” If I were that person’s boss, I would proceed to pelt him continuously with his genius controllers until death or permanent brain damage resulted.
Honorable Mentions: 3rd Party Controllers
Pretty much any third party controller you can find. Pick your crap: Mad Catz, Pelican, there are a million of them. The designs are even worse than their original counterparts, and when you make a poor reproduction of an already poorly designed controller, what do you think results? CRAP! I don’t care if it’s ten dollars less! I want a controller that I can use to play my game; I don’t need to struggle with pointless bells and whistles or uncomfortable button setups. Just keep it simple. Give me my essential buttons and pads and leave it at that. I don’t need all the extra junk and I don’t care if you think it looks cool, as I don’t plan on staring at the damn thing. So I’m begging, leave game controllers be. They’ve been mangled, mutated, and altered to ridiculous lengths and it’s time to stop. To all entities that make controllers, both big and small, think of the gamers first.