Continuing on with what I guess is now a mini-series of the Console Wars, but focusing on different areas than normal. I am using only the biggest names in gaming history, and most of their consoles, creating a big all out war, instead of just one generation. Last week the consoles battled it out for best names. This time we will see which consoles had the best controllers. As always, they will be ranked from worst to best in my opinion, and I am only judging based on the controller that comes packaged with the original system. Here we go!!!
Fun fact- All Nintendo consoles are in red text, Atari in orange, Sony in black, Sega in blue, and Microsoft in green…Smashing!
#22 Atari Jaguar
Take note, I have never played a Jaguar or held the controller.
Just look at this thing. It’s got three oddly placed red buttons that make it seem like you have to lay three fingers flat on the controller to play it effectively, the two middle buttons (pause and options) are just crammed in there, consistent with the whole flat palm playing. The D-pad is just like every other controller, so there’s a win. But what really blows my mind is this large hunk of junk attached to the bottom of the controller. Look at all those number buttons!! What am I supposed to do with those!? Is it so you can play the games from older systems that used numbers? Yikes! What a mess! The whole thing looks uncomfortable and awkward.
#21 Atari 5200
Note that I have never used this controller before or held it, or even have seen it in real life.
It’s pretty sad when this thing isn’t at the lowest spot. I mean, how do you regress from this? It’s like the world’s first cell phone with a joystick attached to where you would hold it up to your ear. I mean damn…what would you play on this thing? I actually have seen it in action. There are cards you put over the number pad for specific games, thus the cards instruct you what each number does, but that sounds horrible and stupid. They should have just cut off the numbers and use the joystick with the two red side buttons.
#20 Atari 7800
Note that I wasn’t sure which was the original, but I’m going to guess the one on the left. I have never played a 7800 or used these controllers.
Either one, they are both pretty bad. Well, the left one is definitely a huge step up from the 5200, and looks like it would play Atari games quite well, it just looks like it would be awkward and uncomfortable to use.
The one on the right is like the beginning stage of the Jaguar. It even confirms my suspicions on having to play with your hand flat on the controller, as evidenced by the neato finger indentations. There’s a weird joystick/d-pad hybrid that looks like it would fail to justly perform as either.
#19 Atari 2600
And here we are with yet another Atari controller. They are sort of at a disadvantage due to the time period that Atari was popular, where you didn’t need much to a controller, and they basically had the task of inventing controllers for home consoles that played multiple games. That being said, they still could have done a better job, though this is their best controller by far. A simple button and a joystick is all you need to play 2600 games and it worked fairly well, though it got fairly uncomfortable to play after a while.
#18 Sega Genesis
This controller had a flawless D-pad and was comfortable to hold. The only problem I had with this controller was the three right buttons. Having them lined up made some games awkward and hard to play, because you really couldn’t hit more than one at a time. This is almost okay though, because most games only required the use of one button. In some games all three buttons did the same thing, while other games the B and C buttons did very minor things. When compared to it’s competition, this controller was terrible.
#17 Sega Master System
This controller had a pretty unique D-pad for the time, though it always wasn’t very precise. I loved how you simply had buttons 1 and 2. It was easy to hold and easy to play with, much more so than it’s successor.
#16 Nintendo Entertainment System
This controller is nearly identical to it’s SMS competition. What makes this one better though is the inclusion of start and select buttons and a more pronounced and accurate D-pad.
The best way to describe this controller is bony. I guess because it’s a grey-white color and thin. It is a comfortable controller and the first controller to introduce 2 buttons on each shoulder. The D-Pad was also made into four separate buttons instead of actually being a…well…pad. This had its advantages and disadvantages. This was the first console to introduce button names with shapes rather than numbers or letters, though I never really liked the D-pad style layout of said buttons, though it is still comfortable and easy to play.
#14 Nintendo 64
This is a weird looking controller, filled with a ton of buttons. At the time of it’s release, it was easily the most comfortable controller ever made. But I never really liked the layout all that much. The C buttons always seemed out of reach with the exception of down-c, and if you held the controller by the center…prong?…the D-pad and L-button were useless. Though the Z button hiding in the back basically replaced L. What was cool about the controller is you could hold it from each edge and use the D-pad instead of the joystick, but I don’t recall ever playing a game that required you to play like that, so the whole controller seemed bigger than it needed to be.
#13 Sega Saturn
I have only played a Saturn once, like 20 years ago or so, so I don’t recall how it feels to hold it, but it looks comfortable enough. It is basically just an updated version of the Genesis controller, featuring a slimmer look and more buttons.They are laid out slightly more angular this time around, so it looks like you could hit two buttons at once if you needed to. Though it still looks like you would never use the X, Y, Z buttons.
Look at this thing…it looks like a land mine. I remember hating this controller because it was so big and fat and uncomfortable. The only reason it is on this list this high is because it had plenty of buttons and you used them all quite frequently. Though I don’t recall the weird black and white buttons ever doing anything. The four main buttons were laid out great, for ease of playing. Two analog sticks and a D-pad really complete this controller. Now if it could just slim down…
#11 PlayStation 2
This is exactly like the first PlayStation controller, but black and has an analog button that never did anything and two more than welcome analog sticks. It still wasn’t the most comfortable controller, but it got the job done.
#10 PlayStation 3
Sony being as creative as ever, this controller is basically the same as the PS2’s, except it has a “home” button that actually does something and the L2 and R2 buttons are more like triggers. I hated that change at first, but I grew to love it, so that I can’t stand playing with a PS2 controller now. Oh yeah, this one is wireless, and is charged by plugging it into the system. Awesome. I think the controller is slightly slimmer and reformed to make it a bit more comfortable as well. Oh and I almost forgot! This has motion controls added that were only really utilized in the very early PS3 games.
#9 Super Nintendo Entertainment System
This controller took the world by storm with it’s many buttons. In addition to the A and B buttons from the NES, they are joined by X and Y. I always wondered why it wasn’t C and D. But one day I noticed…A, B, X, Y. They are all the same letters as all the fighter ships in the original Star Wars trilogy. A Wing, B Wing, etc…Was Nintendo giving a nod to this mighty franchise? Anyway, we were also given shoulder buttons for the first time, which was a nice addition.
The layout of the A-Y buttons allowed you to comfortably and easily press two at a time, and three if you threw in another finger, or bent your index the right way. Anyone who played the Mega Man X series and constantly held down the charge button (Y) and always used dash to move (A) all the while jumping (B) knows what I’m talking about.
It was a relatively comfortable controller, but it seemed a bit frail. It certainly blew away the Genesis controller in their rivalry.
#8 Xbox 360
This is the original Xbox controller on a diet. Microsoft trimmed down all the hugely unnecessary fluff and came out with a great controller. All the buttons are close and easy to reach, it fits nicely in your hand, and it was the first wireless controller to come packaged with a console.
#7 Xbox One
I have never played or even seen an Xbox One, but this controller just looks like it took everything that made the 360 controller great and improved slightly on it. The analogs look perfect, as does the D-pad. Everything is placed quite wonderfully, not to mention it is a gorgeous controller that looks very comfortable.
This is without a doubt the most famous controller in history, for it is still in production two console generations after its own. That’s how strong its popularity is. It is, in my opinion, the most comfortable controller ever made. Your hand just seems to fold around it. The L and R buttons are indented so that your fingers like melt into them. Everything is easy to reach, and it’s very easy to multi-task due to the layout of the buttons. But comfort isn’t everything, so that is why I have this wonderful controller at number 6.
#5 PlayStation 4
This is a weird controller. It feels more comfortable than the rest in the PlayStation family, yet at the same time, more uncomfortable. The analog sticks give you more grip, but they feel so unnatural and different. The D-Pad and right shape buttons are easier to press and seem smaller for some reason. The shoulder buttons are different once again, sort of a hybrid between PS2 and PS3’s shoulders. Overall, it’s not my favorite controller at all, but the trackpad innovation sets it apart from most of the other controllers. I haven’t spent too much time on my PS4, but some games make somewhat clever use of it. In any case, it is strangely satisfying to swipe your finger across it, even if it’s only to flick a switch or something in a game. This too has motion controls, that have been used cleverly in games such as Infamous: Second Son.
The Dreamcast was a very advanced console, and that includes it’s controller. It wasn’t the most comfortable controller, and it didn’t have too many buttons, though there are some shoulders hiding. But this controller was crazy, though honestly I haven’t played a Dreamcast in a very long time and never really fully understood what it did. It had a screen that did nothing in any game I played, but you could plug something into its back and it did all sorts of things that consoles would not start doing for another whole generation. It was a unique and interesting controller, but I couldn’t understand it, and neither could anyone else. That is why it failed.
#3 Nintendo Switch
This thing is crazy. Obviously this isn’t even out yet, so I can’t say much on how comfortable it is, though it doesn’t look all that pleasing to the hand (at least the left picture anyway). Though Nintendo always makes shockingly comfortable controllers so I am not worried. The amazing thing about this controller is you can remove the left and right lighter grey pieces from the picture on the left, and then use each segment as a controller on its own for multiplayer, or slide them onto the screen as pictured on the right to take your game on the go, or even set that nifty little screen on the stand built into the back and use the two controller segments without attaching them to anything. . It’s so clever I could poop.
This was another clever and extremely comfortable controller by Nintendo. Some games you just used the Wii Remote, (right device) for motion controller primary gaming. Other games had you using the remote held on its side, so it was sort of like playing an advanced NES controller. Finally, you could plug the nunchuk, (left device) into the bottom of the remote for more advanced play. The nunchuk adds a few more buttons and is also able to use motion controls. To makes thing even better, again your hand seemed to naturally mold into the controller, making it almost pleasing to hold. It was definitely a unique set up that allowed for truly unique gaming.
#1 Wii U
And here we have it, the best controller ever made. Despite it’s large size, it is really quite comfortable, and features an abundance of buttons. It has a microphone that has various functions, even some in-game ones. That weird rectangle in the left is some scanner for amiibo, and best of all is the TV button, which basically turns your controller into a remote control for your TV, which is honestly one of the best things that’s ever happened to a controller.
The best thing about this controller is the big screen in the middle. It is a touchpad, which adds some fun to games, and also makes it very easy to use the system’s other various applications. But best of all, the screen meant that there were now two screens for the game to use instead of 1. The possibilities for games just lifted to a whole new level. For the first few games, it was truly awesome some of the things they were using the gamepad for, but popularity for the system never took off, and developers didn’t want to spend extra resources developing for a system that wouldn’t sell their games, so many games just used it to mirror what was on your TV screen. I was devastated. This controller has so much potential, and gamers and developers alike failed to realize that.
The other great thing about the screen is you could play your games off the TV. So when my wife wants to watch something stupid, I can just switch the game to the gamepad and play there. It was truly a great idea.
And with that, Nintendo takes the top spot! But as I did with the Console Wars: Names, I feel the company with the most consoles in the top 10 is the true winner.
The results are in and here are our places…
Atari is in last with 0 consoles in the top 10
Sega is in fourth with 1!
Microsoft and Sony tie for runner up with 2 each.
That leaves Nintendo with a whopping 5 controllers in the top 10. They even hold the top 3! Nintendo is clearly the best, and certainly most unique/creative controller makers!