Opinion: The best controller of all time

The net has been abuzz over the new motion controller world we are about to step into since the beginning of E3. Some of us are bitterly against getting up and being active, while some of us embrace the new style of controlling the onscreen world. However, before we move off into the future and leave our D-pads and analogue sticks behind, let’s discuss what the best (and worst) step forwards have been so far…

Until the Wii came along, controllers had followed a path of mutation more than a path of evolution with controllers gaining more buttons, control sticks, triggers and ports. All of these things brought us to the Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers we have today… but are these the pinnacle of gaming controllers or have we made them overcomplicated?

Are you a fan of the SNES controller or maybe the simplicity of the SEGA Master System control pad? Is old school your thing? Atari 2600, Colecovision or the Pippen (just kidding) ?

What are your picks?

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Joshua Philpott

Tech MacGyver
Games writer, podcaster and tech wizard. Obsessed with obscure horror films, crazy gadgets and caffeine. Passionate, argumentative and open minded. Freelance writer and co-founder rawDLC.

Latest posts by Joshua Philpott (see all)

  • Dawg

    The DualShock 2 all the way

    Tip for worst one of those pictured would be the original Xbox original controller, what a hideous monstrosity that was

  • Denny


    That being said, I choose the banjo!

    –err, Dualshock.

  • Numuruzero

    Well, first of all, to say “Made them” overcomplicated is clearly an overstatement, considering the first controller in your image. More of a phone pad, honestly.
    The joystick? Fun, but arguably, the controllers have evolved to the games, rather then the other way around. Imagine playing a platformer using something with the precision of a joystick. Sure, we still have sticks, but they're thumbsticks, with the emphasis on thumb.
    Also, honestly, the current gen controllers have evolved only minimally from the days of the Super Nintendo. Look at the SNES controller, and then the 360 or PS3 controllers. Two more shoulder buttons and some thumbsticks. The thumbsticks are a nice way to find the freedom of the joystick and combine that with the precision of a D-pad.
    And in fact, after the SNES, the controllers follow the same basic formula in buttons: Four buttons on the right in a diamond pattern, movement controls on the left, select in the middle, and shoulder buttons. Except for Nintendo themselves, ironically.

    As for the shape, that was really mostly improved for ergonomics. From the blocky, hard-to-hold NES controller to the rounded but simply shaped SNES to the Sega controllers, you'll notice it getting rounder and more curved. Easier to hold onto while your thumbs are otherwise occupied, at least in my opinion. Then comes the PS controller, which still holds its basic shape to date.
    The N64 controller? Yeah, they were probably high.
    The Dreamcast controller, chunky but surprisingly comfortable in the hands, the Gamecube controller, where Nintendo looks back and says “Aw, man, what did we do”, the blocky wired Xbox controller, and it's less blocky sibling the wireless, PS2, with the addition of the sticks, PS3, with the addition of a shiny button for no apparent reason, the 360 controller, a refined combination of the Xbox and Playstation controller, the Wiimote, where Nintendo says “Screw it” and gets high again.

    My personal favorite? Hard to choose. It depends on the game. I like the springiness of the PS3 controller's L2 and R2 buttons, but the overall layout and feel of the Xbox 360 controller feels better to me. Ultimately, I would say the 360 is my favorite, but you can't discount game types. Playing Wii games with a PS3 controller would just be. Awkward, obviously.

    No, my favorite would definitely have to be the Pippin.

  • http://twitter.com/Northy179 Northy179

    Xbox 360 controller without a doubt….

    the duelshock was fine back in the day but the new ones are quite frankly rubbish and you need to buy trigger extenders to play racing games without getting blisters… the triggers just feel wrong entirely, the resistance isnt right.

    All nintento controllers are BAD except for the original pads… (3rd from the left at the top)

    personally, i believe the 360 controller is the pinacle of design, its comfortable, it works, its only point of failure is the D-pad…. but then again no one has ever done the dpad right except for the DS3.

    I actually liked the duke xbox controller at the time, the sticks were a lot more precise than the S controllers.

    oh, and i didnt stop laughing for a week once i saw a video of how the game cube controller was meant to be held, rofl

  • thrillho

    Always prefered the 360 controller. im a girl with small hands so the big arse original xbox or 64 are just too much for one girl to handle (in-your-endo!) . Second fav is the super nintendo… for old times sake!

  • Angelus

    gamecube controller was awesome

  • http://geekactually.com Geek Actually

    I would have to say that of the pictured controllers, I'd choose the 360 for comfort in the hand but my real choice for best controller would be the Microsoft Force Feedback Sidewinder joystick for PC. That stick was awesome!!

  • Necron81

    My Favourite would be the 360 controller. I just cant look back and just use a dpad for movement :)

  • Hellvis

    N64 is the best controller for the gamer who has hands the size of a bunch of bananas

  • kozeeii

    What is a keyboard?
    Also, my vote goes to the Donkey Kong bongo drums

  • popshott

    PS2 I guess… but I like the N64 one, its manly or geekly.

  • Dawg

    Brilliant username sir

  • Dawg

    Man up Northy, and no games bar MotorStorm use the triggers for racing games that I know of

    pinnacle of design? the d pad is barely functional. the sticks arent responsive enough. the shoulder buttons are placed in an awkward position/angle

  • Nachos Justice

    Keyboard and mouse fo' sho'. Outside of that, I'd have to go with the original Xbox controller… except if they moved the black and white buttons to where the bumpers are on the Xbox 360 controller then that'd be awesome.

  • Moopidoo

    For FPS games, I like a symmetrical controller with some nice triggers. Unfortunately, that is some unknown controller hybrid of a Dualshock 3 and 360 controller.

    For fighting games, an arcade stick is best. However, for console controllers I find the Dualshock 3 to be best. If it's a controller, it has to have a working D-pad.

    Despite me having gargantuan height and size, I have tiny girl hands. The Dualshock 3 is perfect for me. There will never be a “perfect” controller. Everyone has their own personal preference and hand size.

    Also, double props for mentioning the Pippin. Hm…I wonder what a console controller designed by the second coming of Steve Jobs would create…

  • Numuruzero

    Wait, so basically… The 360 controller?

  • Nachos Justice

    Yes, except bulkier… I have big hands y'see.

  • adin75

    No love for the Wiimote? That thing is awesome, papers used to fly off my desk all the time, but no more!

  • DoGM3At

    I know right? The thing is great for replacing the missing leg on my computer desk!

  • oldgamer

    Atri I still have one with 60 games with boxes but need that controller it still works but don’t play it now cus of age but love it.