My Top Five Favorite Controllers
March 22, 2018
Wii U Gamepad
After seeing the Wii U's Gamepad for the first time, I thought it was a gimmick. It looked like Nintendo was trying to be like the trendy new iPad, by having a "tablet" controller. Thankfully, it is nothing like an iPad. The controller is comfortable, and has great joysticks and buttons. The screen is nice too. Some games (Hyrule Warriors and Call of Duty Black Ops 2 come to mind) use it as a second screen in multiplayer, which is nice because then each player gets their own screen. But the best part is the new gameplay modes offered by one player having a screen to himself. NintendoLand had some great games based around the players not knowing what was on the gamepad screen. It is a bummer that the Wii U wasn't more successful, as a lot of cool games could be made with that concept, and the controller was perfect for it. The gamepad is also nice since you can use it while other people in the room watch something else on TV.
I've never been a fan of Sony's Dual Shock controllers. As a kid, I had a hard time reaching the joysticks with my thumbs. They've never felt very comfortable. They felt utilitarian. And when someone says "Push square!", I never know where square is without looking at the controller. "X" and "triangle" are ok, but I still get mixed up between the "circle" and "square" buttons. When Sony released the PS4, I expected a Dual Shock like in their previous three consoles. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the PS4 controller. It is very comfortable to hold. The shoulder buttons feel perfect, and the little touchpad in the middle is great for typing. Why did they make a dedicated "Share" button though, does anyone really use it? Also, it has HORRIBLE battery life. Other than that, it is a great controller.
Wii U Pro Controller
The Wii U Pro controller is almost perfect. It feels exactly like an Xbox 360 controller, but it has the two joysticks parallel. It is very comfortable. The only drawback is I am not used to that, so it can be difficult to quickly find the "B" button after using the right joystick. The battery life on these controllers is incredibly good. You can go months without charging them, even with heavy use.
The Real List
5. Sega Dreamcast
I've always thought the Dreamcast's controller was awesome with its VMU (Visual Memory Unit) attachment. It was basically a controller AND a GameBoy! The VMU could show different stuff as you played the game, and then you could pop it out and use it as a handheld on the go! The Dreamcast controller itself is a little awkward, especially with the cord at the bottom. And the "X" and "Y" buttons are in the wrong position, compared to Nintendo's layout at least.
4. Xbox 360
The Xbox 360 controller seemed so futuristic. They were bright white, with a glowing green logo. It seemed like the perfect evolution of the previous generation's controllers (PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, and Dreamcast). It had the dual analog sticks, triggers and bumpers, and four main buttons. Best of all, was that it was simple, and comfortable. The 360 was the first console of its generation to come out and I remember thinking how comfortable and normal the controller was, especially compared to the original Xbox controller. There wasn't anything weird about it. It wasn't perfect though. Microsoft messed up when they switched the "X" and "Y" buttons from Nintendo's format. I still find this highly annoying, as "Y" is supposed to be to the left of "B"! Didn't the people at Microsoft ever play the Super Nintendo??
3. Super Nintendo
The Super Nintendo controller, like its predecessor, is a normal, comfortable controller. It had a cool gray and purple color scheme. It added "X" and "Y" buttons, and shoulder buttons. The shoulder buttons were a great idea. I didn't use them much on the Super Nintendo, but I think they are the most used buttons on modern controllers, and it started here! The concave "X" and "Y" buttons are a nice touch. There is no better way to play Super Mario World than on this controller, with the "Y" button held down with part of your thumb, while the other part hits the "B" button to jump. Overall, a solid controller.
2. Nintendo Gamecube
I didn't know what to expect after the Nintendo 64's crazy controller. When the Gamecube came out, at first I thought its controller was crazy too. After all, it does look crazy, with buttons scattered all over. But then I held it at a Fred Meyer demo station, and couldn't believe how awesome it felt. It was like a Playstation Dual Shock with the two joysticks, but shaped to perfectly match my grip. Then I realized that there were shoulder buttons, so I went to push them, and couldn't believe it when the buttons slid down with my fingers! The smooth "L" and "R" buttons were amazing at the time. As soon as I pushed them, I knew the Gamecube was something special. The joysticks were much more comfortable than the N64, and definitely seemed like the best in their generation. Sadly, the joysticks do not age well, and become loose after a few years of heavy use. The weird button layout worked out nicely, as most games seem to have a "main" button, and the Gamecube's "A" button was big, front, and center for easy access. The Gamecube controller was awesome.
1. Nintendo 64
The Nintendo 64 controller is probably the craziest looking controller. Its strange three-prong shape is unlike any other. It is so funny seeing someone who's never used one try to hold it. Usually they hold the two sides, and struggle to reach the joystick with their thumb. I don't blame them, it is confusing. Nintendo created something different with this controller, but it worked out nicely. I'm guessing Nintendo wasn't sure the joystick would work so they awkwardly put it in the middle of the controller. Thankfully, it worked great, and was much better than the regular D-pad for 3D games. "A" and "B" are easy access, and the "C" buttons fill the rest of the right hand side in nicely. Even though there are so many buttons, it is easy to know what to push, as the C buttons all have a direction on them. The Nintendo 64 controller came in a lot of see-through colored cases which was awesome. The "Z" button really did feel like a trigger, making shooters fun. The "Z" and "R" shoulder buttons are much easier to push on the 64 controller than on the Super Nintendo, because the 64 handles let you retain your grip on everything else. Like the Gamecube, this controller's joystick wears out after heavy-use which is sad. It is extremely hard to find a like-new 64 controller. The Nintendo 64 had great games, so naturally most of the controllers saw heavy use. Games like Mario Party especially wore the joysticks down, as players furiously spun them as fast as they could for certain mini-games. Still, the Nintendo 64 controller is my all time favorite.