The Worst 1st Party Controllers in Gaming History
We as gamers have been blessed with a ton of great ways to play. But for every Dualshock 4 there’s a PS Move; an outright confusing and often clunky way to control our games. So given our adoration for all things gaming, we at GEEKPR0N saw it fit to flip through the tomes of gaming history and see which controllers either failed to stand the test of time, or simply never made sense to begin with.
But first, ground rules: Since there are so many awful third party controllers out there, this particular list will be comprised only of 1st party controllers either packaged in with their respective consoles, or sold separately later, but required to play specific 1st party titles. Ready? BEGIN!
5) N64 Controller
The Nintendo 64 is one of my favorite consoles, but there’s no denying that the shape of its controller is so strange it might as well have been a question mark. And while we’ve all figured out how to hold the thing twenty years later, who here can truthfully say that their first time with the controller didn’t involve them wrestling with which two of the three handles they were supposed to hold?
The N64’s controller does deserve some credit, however. It was the first system to introduce the analog stick to console gaming, and for that we will always be in its debt.
4) SEGA DREAMCAST Controller
Apparently following in the enigmatic footsteps of the N64, Sega’s fourth and final system came complete with a controller that just looked and felt…so weird. Those stubby handles at the bottom; the tiny buttons; the awkwardly placed start button; the whole controller felt all too off to be the gateway to a new way to play.
Of course, credit is due where it’s deserved: The Dreamcast featured an entirely ahead of its time memory card / mini game function, where players could take their button-covered memory cards on the go and play mini games based on the titles saved on file. They could then plug their memory card back into the controller for bonuses in the full version of their games. This made the Dreamcast – wonky controller and all – a sort of predecessor to today’s “second-screen experience” trend in gaming.
3) XBOX “Duke” Controller
It’s hard to believe Xbox thought it wise to come out on the console market swinging with this monstrosity. Unless their plan was to throw the Duke at their competitors and knock them out with its overwhelming mass – then it was a great first controller. The fact that later Xbox systems came bundled with a thinner, firmer controller shows that Microsoft realized that putting Hodor in charge of QA testing their debut controller was a big mistake.
2) NES / FAMICOM CONTROLLERS
The issue with the NES controller is the polar opposite of what was wrong with the Duke: it’s just too tiny. Sure it’s undoubtedly the granddaddy of all modern day controllers, but revisiting this one is a nightmare on the hands. Those jabby edges are not ideal for adult gamers especially, as my recent attempt to play Blades of Steel painfully reminded me.
1) SEGA SATURN 3D CONTROL PAD
This thing is a flying saucer. While it was not technically a bundled-in controller, the 3D Control Pad was mandatory for playing Saturn games like Nights: Into Dreams once the 3D gaming craze came into full force. The circular controller shape just simply doesn’t click, and the fact you had to manually flip a switch to make either the D-pad or analog stick work left a third of the controller’s buttons useless at any given time.
Those were some of the worst controllers ever made by 1st party developers, but what about the best? You can find this list’s smarter, more handsome brother, “The BEST 1st Party Controllers in Gaming History” right here on Button Masher T.O.