The 5 best controllers ever
A console’s controller is perhaps its most important feature, working as the connection between player and the game. Over the years we’ve seen controlelrs come in all shapes and sizes, with some experments falling flat with others succeeding and paving the way for new generations.
Here are my favourite five:
Controller S – Xbox
As well as being a solid controller in its own right, this guy deserves a spot on the list by representing the biggest improvement for a console mid-lifespan. The Xbox’s original ‘Duke controller’ was symbolic of the missteps Microsoft took with their initial forray into the gaming world, being only large enough for the biggest of hands, with the buttons feeling miles apart. The ‘S’ improved on everything, moving the black and white buttons to a much more sensible area and shrinking the whole thing down, becoming the template that the subsequent 360 and One equivalents would follow.
Official Controller – SNES
Probably the most influential controller ever, the Super Nintendo controller is simplicity perfected, symbolising everything good about the 16-…bit era. Four face buttons, two shoulder buttons and a D-pad. What more is needed? The rounded edges make it more comfortable than the NES counterpart, and the colourful display (in Europe and Japan at least) make it a lovely thing to look at.
Official Controller – Xbox 360
The best controller of its generation, there’s a reason it’s the most popular controller choice amongst PC gamers. The 360 controller took everything good about the S Controller and streamlined it, with the analogue sticks in the perfect place, the black and white buttons done away with and lovely differentiation between the shoulder buttons and shoulder triggers. The ‘home’ X button in the middle was revolutionary, connecting the player to the console’s hub via a button press, and has influenced all controllers since.
Dualshock 4 – PS4
By far the best iteration of the Playstation’s ever-present design, the Dualshock 4 finally puts the Playstation in first place in terms of controller comfort, just edging its Xbox One rival. Everything has been improved over the PS3 – the thing just feels more comfortable in your hands – the triggers more responsive, the buttons more satisfying to press, and Sony finally opting for indented analogue sticks is an improvement that can’t be overstated. The touch-sensor is also non-intrusive but useful, as such additions to controllers should be, and doesn’t over-complicate things the way other controller-based screens have done in the past.
Wavebird – GameCube
The GameCube’s controller was the best of its generation, and the Wavebird was something special. The first official wireless controller from a console manufacturer, it was also the first decent attempt at going wireless – functioning flawlessly from a staggering distance. Every controller since has been wireless by default as a result of the Wavebird’s influence. Of course it helped that the controller itself was a joy to hold, the unique analogue triggers culminating in a button press still feel satisfying today, and the unconventional layout of the face buttons with the big green ‘A’ always on your thumb was a stroke of genius from the designers.