Over the years, there have been so many different controller variations and designs. Some have been a success, and others have been downright weird… I’m looking at you, Nintendo 64 controller.
However, as I have made clear so many times on here and on Twitter, I adore experimentation when it comes to the video game industry. This extends to controller design as well. So, I thought it would be interesting to look at 7 of my favourites controllers throughout the years. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Dual Shock 2
We are going to start off with the controller that got, by far, the most use in my gaming life. My PlayStation 2 has had a lifespan from launch until now, with the Dual Shock 2 controller still seeing very regular use.
Whilst it didn’t really innovate or change anything significant from the original PlayStation’s Dual Shock controller, the sensitivity added to the various buttons makes it stand tall. Rather than just having sensitivity on the analogue sticks themselves, the Dual Shock 2 actually had it on the face buttons as well.
For example, when you were playing a racing game like Gran Turismo, you could lightly press Square to brake gently, or you could push it down all the way to brake hard. That was revolutionary to me at the time. Since then, I’ve loved the controller, and it is still one of the best iterations of the Dual Shock design to this date.
Super Nintendo Controller
Jumping back a couple of generations, we’re moving on to one of the most beloved consoles in history; the Super Nintendo. Whilst it may not have had the minimalist simplicity of the original NES controller, the added buttons and dog-bone style shape made it infinitely more comfortable to use.
The SNES controller sits really nicely in the palm of your hands, with each button in easy reach, meaning you don’t know to strain your fingers in order to press them. On top of that, it is really lightweight, making it far more comfortable for long gaming sessions.
In short, the simplicity of the design compared to more modern controllers, as well as the comfort it provides, makes the SNES controller a wonderful piece of kit! Even with the release of the SNES Classic, I still find myself loving the controller design. And whilst a lot of people would prefer to have wireless controllers these days, I still like having a cable, as long as it is a good length.
Dual Shock 4
Next up, we have the first of only 2 wireless controllers on this list. It is also the grandchild of the controller that we opened with; enter the PlayStation 4’s Dual Shock 4.
Now, obviously, I was going to like the Dual Shock 4 as it was an actual improvement on the Dual Shock 2, unlike the Six Axis for the PS3 as I didn’t really get on with the motion control aspects of that. The PlayStation 4 controller took the best bits of the Dual Shock 2, included the comfort and base design, before reshaping it slightly to make it feel thinner and sit in your hands better.
Adding the touch screen was a work of genius and I use it on a very regular basis. Plus, they actually managed to make motion controls work with the Dual Shock 4. For example, I won’t ever forget the first time I was playing inFamous: Second Son and had to turn the controller sideways and shake it in order to get a spray can ready to use in the game.
6-Button MegaDrive/Genesis Controller
Skipping back a few generations again, which is understandable as this is predominantly a retro gaming blog, we have the controller for the MegaDrive (or Genesis). Specifically, we are looking at the 6-button variation of the controller.
Whilst the 3-button controller is iconic amongst Sega fans, and I did really like it at the time, it was the 6-button variation that stands the test of time for me. Sure, not all games supported the 6-button layout, but I actually preferred the smaller A, B and C buttons and the addition of the X, Y and Z buttons.
Even now, with the admittedly very low quality AT Graphics MegaDrive Flashback (you can read my review of that here), they still chose to use the 6-button MegaDrive controller layout. I know a lot of people won’t agree with me on this, especially since the 3-button variation is so popular, but I just really like it.
Nacon Revolution Unlimited Pro
Funnily enough, the next controller on the list is the most modern. It’s actually also my go-to controller for the PS4 and the PC now. The Nacon Revolution Unlimited Pro is, to be fair, a rather pricey controller that is mainly designed for eSports players.
However, the controller is so insanely comfortable to use! From being able to adjust the weight to suit you to altering the thumb sticks and playing around with the sensitivity, you can make the Revolution Unlimited Pro exactly the way you need it. It also works with a bluetooth USB dongle, so you can have it wireless for both the PS4 and the PC.
If you watch my retro gaming streams on Twitch, you’ll notice that I even use it when running games through an emulator. Out of all of my controllers, and I have a lot, this one gets the most use at present.
Switch Wired Controller
The penultimate controller in this list of my 7 favourite controllers is actually my latest addition; the Wired Controller for the Switch. I have the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild variation of the controller, and it looks outstanding. In fact, it’s probably the more visually appealing controller that I own.
But that’s not really overly important in the grand scheme of things. What is importable is how it feels to use. Now I, personally, have never really been a fan of the Xbox and Dreamcast thumb stick layout. That is, until I got the aforementioned Revolution Unlimited Pro. Since then, I’ve found that I don’t mind it at all.
The Wired Switch Controllers use that layout, but the overall shape of the controller is what really makes it work. It’s a rather compact controller, but not too small that it creates discomfort for my big hands. Instead, it sits neatly in my palms and feels really nice to use. It’s a shame I can’t use it for the PC as well (unless there is a way that I don’t know about yet). But for the Switch, it means that long gaming sessions of Breath of the Wild don’t take a toll on my hands.
Finally, we have the controller that has been my personal favourite ever since I first used it. Nintendo have tried out so many different controller ideas and styles over the years, from the SNES controller mentioned earlier to the WiiMote and the Switch’s JoyCons.
However, none of them have come close to the original GameCube controller for me. Whilst I never had one of the wireless versions, the original controller’s design, look and feel stood out to me immediately.
The thin handles and almost floating layout of the D-Pad and C-Stick meant that I never had to strain when using it. In fact, largely due to Resident Evil 4, I found that it is the best controller for me when having to do quick button presses for Quick Time Events.
There is a reason why it is still used for a number of controller releases across a variety of Nintendo consoles; it’s just a great controller. And that’s why it takes the top spot for me, even after all these years.
And That’s All Folks
Well, there you have it. Those were my favourite video game controllers of all time. Sure, they won’t match up with everyone’s, but I love each and every one of them.
What are you favourite controllers? Let me know in the comments below!