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The Top 10 Controllers

6/23/12 5:20pm

I always enjoy some controllers. We've seen a wide array of ways to control the way we game, from the basic to...the ridiculous. However, after more than three decades of gaming, I think it's time to establish what are the best of the bunch. Now keep in mind a couple of guidelines: first, it must be a main method of controlling the game you play, so no additional peripherals or add-ons will be accepted. Also, we'll evade 3rd party controllers.

And as always, we got a Variable.

 

X
Wii Remote Plus

Nintendo just being typical with the color choices...

How is this the Variable? Well let's face it - motion controls EASILY divide the crowd on two; we're not talking about hardcore vs. Casual, we're talking about people who want to stay still while playing and people who would rather waggle. With that said, the Wii Remote was essential on making the Wii a HUGE success for Nintendo purely because of its simplicity. One main button, one trigger, and a d-pad. Hold it sideways and you've got an old-school setup. A port allows you to plug in a nunchuck for traditional analog control. And of course, it's so easy to know how to use it, even your grandma can play with it.

Plus, we get ads like these. Thank you Nintendo for setting the trend. (Jerks.)

But I didn't put the Wii Remote itself on this list - the one that's in is the Wii Remote Plus. Remember when Nintendo brought this little peripheral called Wii Motion Plus? I hated that thing. Sure, it's instantly better at accurately reading my motions when I'm swinging, but the added lump on the controller makes it impossible to play New Super Mario Bros. Wii or Mega Man 2 for the Virtual Console. Hence the Wii Remote Plus is so convenient. And for those who are quick to say that the PS Move is better than the Wii Remote Plus, think about how having a single Wii Remote can allow you to have TWO different ways of holding it (remote-style and sideways). The Move? You're stuck with the DualShock 3 if you want to play traditionally. I do say many times that it's not about doing it first, but doing it better...but after seeing how the Move was hardly implemented to be a must-have for the PS3 (Sports Champions is a mixed bag, so to speak), I don't see why I should give it the edge. (I was highly interested in Sorcery, but that also turned out to be a bit of a failure. Huh.)

So the Wii Remote Plus is on the list. Come at me bro.

Plus we get THIS!! Ah, the Zelda fanboy in me...

 

9
Sega Dreamcast Controller

Face it, you like playing Marvel vs. Capcom 2 with this one.

There's a couple of reasons to love this controller. First off, I absolutely love the smoothness of the D-pad - it almost feels analog for some reason. It's a bit of a step back from the Sega Saturn's Analog controller, as it threw out two buttons in favor of a more traditional 4-button diamond setup. However, its most interesting gimmick is the VMU slot. Save some memory info intro a VMU card and you can take it along with you to play minigames with it. Novelty? Perhaps, but I'd bet this was the first of many attempts to bring some sort of connectivity into consoles - something that Nintendo has kept experimenting since the GameCube/Game Boy Advance days.

 

8
Keyboard/Mouse

If you own a gaming PC, chances are the keys "WSAD" are the first ones to wear out.

Now here's a curve ball you didn't expect - and I hear the crowd saying, "but Jetman, that's not a controller!" And I'm quick to call you an idiot. See, this is a list about controllers, not game pads - we're talking about the best instruments used to control your game, and when it comes to PC gaming, nothing quite beats the precision of a good ol' mouse and the amount of accessible buttons at the tip of your finger like the keyboard. To think that the RTS (real-time strategy), MMO (Massively-Multiplayer Online) and even the FPS (First-Person shooter) genres play better with this type of control setup. Nowadays everyone likes game pads more, but as one of the oldest ways of gaming control, the Keyboard/Mouse combination still works as it did decades ago.

 

7
Arcade Stick

Face it, the only thing MadCatz did right was to make this a reality.

This is more of a variety thing more than an actual controller, but it's hard to argue why the arcade stick is still considered the definitive way of playing fighting games and arcade classics. While a D-pad is comfortable, sometimes you just need the responsiveness of a real joystick, and that's where the arcade stick comes in. While I'm showcasing the MadCatz's Tournament Edition Fightstick, this entry is about *every* arcade stick/button setup found on the arcades ever since the days of Space Invaders and Pac-man.

Besides, the only reason why this is not any higher is because to get a top-quality arcade stick for playing on your current consoles, you'll need to fork an insane amount of money.

 

6
NES Game Pad

The definition of a classic controller, right down to its esthetic design.

You gotta give it to Nintendo when it comes to bringing revolution into gaming. Before motion controls, analog sticks, and shoulder buttons, this is where it all started. The NES Game Pad wasn't exactly fancy in terms of ergonomic designing or button responsiveness - it did what it did and did it well, and that's what matters. However, with the introduction of the Control Pad (also known as the directional pad or D-pad), the game was far more comfortable than using a joystick with a firm fist like the Atari's controller. It became such a standard that, even to this day, the D-pad is still found on modern controllers as an extra method of input.

Extra note: the Famicom pad also included a microphone, but this was removed from the North American versions.

 

5
Sega Genesis Controller

You can't handle Blast Processing without this beast.

The Genesis controller had no more buttons than the NES one - instead of a select button, it only had a Start button and three face buttons. However, this was the first controller to take into consideration a person's grip. It felt comfortable while holding it, plus the d-pad it included was large and responsive. While its six-button counterpart is a great upgrade and it's perfect for games like Street Fighter II, I just give the original the edge for its overall simplicity and sexiness. Oh, and did I mention it's actually backwards-compatible with the Sega Master System AND the Atari 2600?

 

4
Nintendo GameCube Controller

You think of it as a toy, I think of it as a weapon of mass destruction...as I kick your ass in a game of Melee!

Maybe it is the least innovative controller from Nintendo's side, but it's hard to argue why it works so damn well. There's a reason why it's still the prefered controller for many of the recent Wii releases that give the option - I can't imagine myself playing Brawl or Sonic Colors without this thing. The stick placement is perfect, the analog triggers are functional (plus include an additional digital feedback at the end of it), and the button arrangement, while weird, is simple to understand and get used to. While I prefer the Wireless Wavebird variation of this beast, I'd expect people to prefer the original thanks to its strong rumble feature.

 

3
XBox 360 Controller

No comment. It's freaking XBox 360, respect it!

Here it is, the modern controller at its absolute best. While the original XBox had something going on with its S edition (let's forget about the monstrousity the original, fat one was), it was improved substancially when jumping into the XBox 360. Everything about this controller is just exactly what we need in everyday gaming: dual analog sticks, four main face buttons, two shoulder buttons, two analog triggers, and a D-pad. Oh, yeah, the D-pad...well, I think that if this little thing actually worked as intended this controller would be at the #1 spot, but Microsoft botched this piece, so it'll sadly have to stay at #3.

Oh, and it's compatible with PC. If you're using wires. :/

 

2
SNES Game Pad

Does anyone prefer the Super Famicom/PAL SNES buttons?

Perhaps this is mostly a nostalgic gamer talking, but I think I'm not the only one who puts the SNES Game Pad in such a high regard as the pinnacle of Nintendo's design expertise. Sure, the D-pad returns and it's as functional as ever, but think about all the other additions: four face buttons arranged in a dimond fashion, two extra shoulder buttons, and a more ergonomic design. To this day, every new controller out there indirectly emulates the design that the SNES Game Pad established, and that's not a bad thing. It says a lot when the first Wii Classic Controller was essentially a SNES pad with extra analog sticks - it just means that the SNES rocked hard.

 

1
PlayStation Dualshock

Genius design.

I always say that it's not about who does it first, but rather who does it better. Nintendo may have introduced the D-pad, the analog stick, and rumble feedback into our gaming experience, but when Sony decided to mix them all up into this iconic controller, you got an instant winner. Why do you think that the overall design of the Playstation controller has maintained for over 15 years? The sticks are perfect, the D-pad is responsive, the buttons feel great (with the lone exception of the Dualshock 3's L2/R2 triggers) and the overall design of the controller feels RIGHT.

Interesting trivia: in 2007, Nintendo won an Emmy Award for the technological advancement by creating the D-pad for the NES/Famicom Game Pad. In that same event, they give another Emmy Award to Sony for designing the ENTIRE DUALSHOCK CONTROLLER. If they decide that an entire gamepad deserves such a regconition, then we got in our hands the best controller ever made.

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