Hey everyone, and welcome to another Controller Crusade Roundtable discussion. Every Friday our team of writers tackle a different gaming question, and the question this week is “What is your favorite controller?”. A controller design can make or break a console, and let’s see which controllers stood out for our staff.
This is a tough one. Although I can usually be pretty biased when it comes to my darling N64 I am definitely not going to pick that controller. I have to admit it’s pretty awkward to control certain games with it. Remember aiming in a FPS with the C buttons? The joysticks were also notorious for crapping out. For me its a toss-up between two controllers. I’ve always loved the Dreamcast controllers, not only did they look cool but I always thought they functioned well. I remember being mesmerized as a kid playing a fighting game on my Dreamcast and seeing a little 8 bit sprite of my character moving around on my VMU. The second controller I’ll always love is the Gamecube controller. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on almost the entire team’s lists. I still use my Gamecube controllers whenever I play a Wii game, and there’s no surprise why Nintendo has decided to bring them back for the WiiU. At first glance the Gamecube controller looks ridiculous, but it fits nicely in your hand and all the buttons are easily accessible.
My all-time favourite controller is definitely for the Xbox 360. It’s got everything you’d need in a controller (dual analog sticks, two triggers, bumpers, 4 face buttons) and is molded to fit into your hand. The weight is damn near perfect and its rumble motors are just powerful enough. It also helps that I much prefer the asymmetrical stick design present on the pad to the symmetrical design seen on Sony’s controllers. My second favourite controller actually belongs to the Gamecube. It actually fits in the hand better than the 360 pad and the moulded shoulder buttons are just heaven. The only reason the Xbox 360 controller outranks the Gamecube controller is that the more traditional face button layout and better triggers make it more versatile and better for a wider range of genres.
Of course, if there’s one thing that both controllers lack, it’s a decent D-pad. So for that reason I have to mention the Saturn controller for 2D games. It has quite possibly the best d-pad ever made and 6 face buttons which makes it the perfect pad for fighters. I’m talking about the second version of the controller (which was the original controller in Japan) because the first edition of the American Saturn pad was just awful.
Although I would consider myself a PC enthusiast at this point, nothing is more powerfully nostalgic for me than when I hold that original NES controller in my hands. This was the device that turned me into the hardened challenge aficionado I am today. So many hours in my childhood, both day and night, suffering frustrating defeat after frustrating defeat at the hands of those notoriously difficult 8-bit games, but man when I did finally succeed, victory never tasted so damn sweet.
There are some moments I’m sure many people have experienced, when you are playing a game and everything starts coming together and falling into place. You get into a groove, and become unstoppable, finding that ‘Zen Mode’ – the center-point of one’s true potential. I owe all those moments from my experience playing the NES; Mega Man, Ninja Gaiden, Double Dragon and Batman; all games that I eventually conquered by relentlessly pushing my gaming skills to the limit time and time again. That passion is kindled every time I hold that controller, and nothing is more sublime.
If I had to pick a favorite controller, it would narrowly come down to the wired Xbox 360 controller. Yes, having the ability to plug that little beauty into a PC while the console tv is occupied is a major convenience. I can dismiss the obvious downside of being attached to a wire with limited distance, but when switching to PC gaming, it’s hard to find anyone that is more than an arms length away.
Ok, I’ll admit, the wireless convenience of the wireless xbox 360 controller is nice, but how many times have you had a minor freakout when you see that little green circle spinning alerting you to a low battery? Even worse, how many times have you been in a critical part of a game, and all of a sudden, your on-screen character stops moving and you push all buttons trying to find one that will spark some kind of movement, only to realize the battery has died after you have ignored the warning signs all night. You need to save your progress, beat that boss, or complete the mission before, yes before, going to sleep for the night (for some of us, early morning.) Now, you’re stuck either trying to find new batteries or the charging cable. Then, out of the corner of your eye, you see that handy little wired Xbox 360 controller… no charge necessary, and ready to go.
That’s a wrap on this edition of Controller Crusade Roundtable. As always we love when our readers join in on the discussion, so give us your two cents in the comments below. Also if you have any questions that you would like our team to answer for next week, let us know! Check back next week, and each and every Friday for more Controller Crusade Roundtable Discussions.