I didn’t really get into gaming until the Saturn came along. However, I was pretty familiar with almost every console controller before that and since. The joysticks of the Atari, the cramp-inducing pad of the NES (although if you were young, it was a much better fit). The much more ergonomic pad of the Genesis. The Saturn controller was pretty good, but it felt so lightweight.
I thought it would be fun to share my favorite controllers through the years. I’ll be sourcing pictures off the internet, so if you’ve followed your image here and don’t want me using it, please just say so and accept my apologies. I will have sources for it, but I won’t be hotlinking and using your bandwidth.
Playstation. Sony’s entrance in 1995 took everyone by real surprise how successful it was, most of all Sega. The controller hasn’t changed much over the years, being more of an evolution (Xbox changed a bit more to me). There’s a really cool gif of both at Mashable. What really changed the game for me was when Logitech came out with their cordless PS2 controller. Cordless wasn’t a thing yet, and the design was so much more comfortable than what Sony had done, and would do for years. It was comfortable, it was cool (blue!), it was cordless. It was a winner, and I still have one.
The Xbox version was almost as cool, except it had that ridiculous dongle.
This was when Logitech made great products, which in my opinion, they don’t do quite as well outside of keyboards and mice. But I digress. For the first time I could game without being physically connected to the console. There might have been some before that, but I didn’t own them. The Logitech Xbox controller was light years ahead of the Duke (never used) and the S controller, in my opinion. Best controllers of that generation, as the GameCube was awful, and the Dreamcast was decent, but not great.
When you look at the seventh gen consoles (PS3/360/Wii), only the Wii sucks. The only thing I liked about those controllers was playing the classic games on them sideways. Only way those really spoke to me. Otherwise, I had to strap on a classic controller to the Wiimote to be satisfied. The DualShock3 was pretty good, but nowhere near as comfortable as the 360 controller. To me, it looks like they took the best parts of the Logitech controller above and built theirs around it. The comfort is absolutely great. The only thing that kills it is the proprietary charge port.
Now, the eight generation is where it seems to all come together. The Xbox One took the 360 controller and had it slightly evolve. The battery is no longer a bomb sitting under a Dauntless, but is now tucked into the controller itself without making the controller any bigger. It also now uses microUSB to charge and connect, which is very nice. I don’t like how they removed the standard port for mics and headphones, but they are about to come out with a new version that brings that back. The dongle you need now isn’t too bad though, at least I can change volume with it easily. The DS4 is a bit different than the DS3 in that the handles have been elongated and there is a touch area at the front top of the controller. Handles are better, touch area isn’t thoroughly evaluated yet. The controller also lights up, for reasons I’m aware of but don’t really understand. The charge port also evolved from mini to microUSB – yes, you can use the same cord for both Xbox and PS4 now. Yay!
The Wii U is really where you see a lot of change. The Wiimotes are still used somewhat, but the big deal is the tablet-esque controller now included. Unfortunately, there’s only ever one paired to the system, but it’s pretty neat. I thought it was a real gimmick at first, but I love being able to play games (or have the kids play games) solely on the tablet while I watch something on the TV. It’s really rather well done. The controls are pretty good as well. There’s some games that also take a unique take on immersion with having to look at the smaller screen, like ZombiU. A recent addition to my personal stable is the Wii U Pro Controller. This controller is extremely similar to the 360 controller, has a super long battery life and charges via miniUSB. I can’t wait to give this a go, but I can already tell I will love it. Very ergonomic.
Soon, Valve will release it’s own controller for the PC, and it looks very intriguing. I might have to get that as well, even though I really don’t game on the PC. When I do, I use one of the 360 controllers and a dongle. Other than that, I drive. I’ve had several wheels – Wii ‘wheels’ (just controller holders, really), the Xbox 360 wheel, and a couple of Logitech wheels. The Driving Force Pro wheel was good, but I am absolutely in love with the G27 wheel. Three pedals, six speed H-gated shifter, good grip on the wheel…it’s awesome. Unfortunately not yet compatible with the PS4, and not compatible with anything Microsoft has done. I wish I could use this wheel on every single driving game. It’s fantastic when playing Euro Truck Simulator 2 on the PC. Yes, I own that game and it’s actually really good.
It’s hard writing things that aren’t woodworking or shop-related for some reason. I’m just as passionate, however the thoughts and ideas don’t seem to flow so smoothly. Hopefully I can develop a better gameplan about my topics soon.