Since the WiiU has appeared on the markets, I have been kinda interested in the controllers. These elements are of vital importance, since this is the way we communicate with the game. Throughout its history, Nintendo has had different controllers from console to console, while its competitors have changed the input device very little on each of their renditions.
Thus today I will focus only on Nintendo controllers, since they have been very prone to change. Also, I will explain how I felt the controllers. I am not an expert on console history, so I may do one or two wrong suppositions on the creation of the devices. In any case, this is more a description on how I handled the different changes. Also, in sake of keeping it short, I will not touch the handheld systems.
Maybe the most basic controller, it was a simple way to steer the characters. Two action buttons (A and B) and two selection buttons (Select and Start), these buttons pretty much shaped the way the buttons are shaped on a controller. Just check the X-Box and the PS and you will see exactly those two selection buttons on each of them. It was very functional back then, and the D-Pad was, even after the Game & Watch games, very new and very easy to use. The Atari had used back then a joystick, which was nice, but a little bit unwieldy. Only drawback was the position of the different buttons. They were in one line, which were a bit uncomfortable to play with, somewhat not ergonomic. Later renditions of the same controller tilted the buttons, making them easier to reach.
My favourite controller ever created. Period. It had the exact amount of buttons, making it possible for many variations of movements for fighting games and even action games. L and R were included, making the idle fingers on the top of the controller active and ready. Most amazing of all was the fact that they could now port computer games like Doom on the console, since computer games required a lot of buttons to play. The buttons were also tilted, and the corners rounded, which made all the buttons more reachable. It was also the time when they included the extra buttons, X and Y. Why Z had not been a first choice for designation, though, I still do not understand.
This controller is maybe one of the most interesting in what Nintendo had to offer. There were a ton of extra buttons: the four C-Buttos and, finally, a Z-Button. But specially the form of the controller was weird. Although its focus was to be a controller you could use in two ways, you mostly used the trigger arm in the middle. The Z was perfectly placed to emulate a little gun that was perfect for playing shooters and similar games. It gave you the feeling that you were actually shooting at your opponent. Maybe it is because of that Golden Eye was also a huge success.
My least favourite of all and the one that tried to emulate the PS maybe a little too much. Although the buttons were simplified, I still don’t get why the A-Button was so big and why the B so small. Not much to say, I only played Smash Brothers on it.
Now, I don’t know hot to conceive this controller. Even though it was more a motion stick for the game, once the novelty was over and you settled on the sofa, the controller was somewhat weird and fun. You had it technically separated into two parts, so you could make yourself comfortable however you liked. Even though the idea of the 1 and 2 buttons seemed good, it was strange to know forget about the A and B designation. Later peripherals would get the old names back, but trying to say “press 1″was really awkward after years of playing the old way.
Even though I am a big Nintendo fan, I still prefer the PS controller over every other controller. It is just perfect and, even though it has a lot of buttons, it is easy to access. If there is something Nintendo missed here, it’s the consistency. Each generation was an interesting new experiment, but after the standard SNES controller, they swerved too much out of a comfort zone, trying always to be different from the competitors. I don’t think it was necessary, but still they did, and at the end it was a slew of nice childhood memories.
May they smile upon your way!