The Opinion Herd: Game Controllers
This week on the Herd we’re going to talk about video game controllers. There have been dozens of controllers designed for dozens of different systems. Many of them have been good. Many of them have not been so good. So we wanted to know what the staff thought was the best controller of all time. Will it be from the Atari 2600? Will it be the Nintendo 64 or the Dual Shock? In addition to that we wanted to know what they would like to see on the upcoming controller for the next Nintendo system.
Shelby Says: I am fond of the GameCube controller. I love how comfortable it is to hold and the analogue shoulder buttons are really awesome as well. To my knowledge, the GameCube controller is the only one that has analog buttons that aren’t triggers. The controllers are also extremely tough as mine have been through countless hours of Melee and Mario Power Tennis and they are still going strong. The A button was located centrally between X, Y and B allowing you to easily roll your thumb to press all of the buttons. With other controllers you have to pick up your thumb to reach all the buttons. That small amount of time could be the difference between life and death. The only complaint is how the d-pad was too small for playing NES games with.
As for the new Nintendo system, I want to see a return to the two handed controller. I can never comfortably use the d-pad when playing with the Wiimote and Nunchuck. I have to shift the controller in my hand first and that takes too much time. The rumors flying around say this new controller will have a six inch, HD touch screen built into it. I’m telling you right now, it won’t be that big and it won’t be HD. In fact, I will probably be the size of an iPhone or DS screen. Anything smaller and you won’t be able to use it precisely with your thumbs. Anything bigger and it will make the controller too large. I think a screen in the controller has potential but I don’t want it to be a HUD screen. Things like health and ammo count need to be in my view at all times. If I have to start shifting my eyes from my TV to my palms, I am going to once again lose precious seconds. Instead of adding more screens to display information, developers should find better ways to relay that info to the player; Dead Space being the best example.
Alex Says: Oh boy, tough call here! Given everything Nintendo has done with its controllers over all the years, there really isn’t anywhere else to go is there? My favorite controller of all time however, is the N64 controller. I remember it just fitting perfectly in your hands, and using the joystick was revolutionary for Nintendo. Having the Z button and using it, felt almost like holding a gun But with Nintendo saying it will have a new system come out, not only shocked me, but im sure it shocked every fanboy out there! Most systems have a longer life time then the Wii did. Not saying the Wii is dead, but compared to Xbox 360 and PS3, it looked liked it didnt live out to its full potential. I can not really think of what the new controller would look like, or would do, but the anticipation is killing me! We have already explored wireless, motion sensing, and joysticking a million times over, so trying to figure out what Nintendo has planned is quite the brain teaser. We have already done the “your body is the controller” thing, but what about YOUR MIND? Ha, maybe not…but who knows what the future holds? I suppose we must quietly sit and wait, and see what Nintendo will be whipping up!
Tony Says: Nintendo hit a homerun with the creation of the GameCube controller. The big green A button announced that it was the action button and since it would be used most often was prominently placed under your right thumb. The B, X, and Y buttons common to Nintendo controllers were placed in positions around that button that made them easy to reach. The shoulder buttons were curved just enough to fit perfectly under your index fingers and the handles on the bottom were just the right size to fit comfortably in your closed fists. With the invention of the Wavebird Nintendo began the wireless Revolution, but the controller wasn’t the standard for the system. The weight of the controller was perfect even with the bulky battery compartment in the middle of the controller. The wireless capability meant you could sit comfortably anywhere in your gaming area and weren’t hampered by wires that would get in the way. This controller is so perfect that it’s a shame we had to move on.
As for what I want to see on the next controller would be two analog sticks. Nintendo had them on the GameCube controller and I know they went with easier control methods for a more casual audience with the Wii, but there are so many games that could have been improved by having a second analog stick. I’m very intrigued by the idea of the touch screen on the controller. Sega tried something similar with the VMU, but Nintendo is reportedly going to implement a very nice, almost DS-like screen on their controller. It’s going to be interesting to see how developers can use that to improve game play. Hopefully it won’t be something they try to toss things onto just to add bullet points to the box.
Gaz Says: The Gamecube controller always has, and I think perhaps, always will be my favourite controller of all time. It just works. While the Wii Remote has a general lack of buttons and isn’t particularly comfortable to use when linked with a Nunchuck, the Gamecube controller is extremely comfortable and easy to just pick up and use. It’s the little things that make it stand out – the analog triggers on the back for racing games, the camera stick being smaller than the main control stick to make a clear distinction, and of course the unique face button layout with the giant A button. The Z button still remains a mystery to me (why aren’t there two?!) but the Gamecube controller is easily the most comfortable controller ever made.
Moving forward, I think Nintendo has to go back to this ergonomic design. No more Wii Remotes. No more wacky N64 controller designs. Just pure and simple brilliance and function. We need to get back to controlling games the way they were always meant to be, and the Gamecube controller is the epitome of controller design. If we must have a touch screen, which I’m still not a fan of, I’d rather it be placed above the main controller housing or placed in a way that doesn’t screw up the form factor of the controller. It will certainly be interesting to see whether Nintendo can achieve this or not.
So there you have it. Nintendo is known for their controller innovations and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. The GameCube controller seems to be the choice best liked by the crew. Can Nintendo keep up the innovation with the next generation? Let us know what you think is the best controller of all time and let us know what you’d like to see from Nintendo going forward.