Console controllers that innovated our gaming
14th Sep 2010 | 09:50
iconic pads that put us firmly in the navigation seat
Imitation being the simplest form of flattery, we were far from suprised to hear that Sony was rumoured to be readying their own Wii-like wand, to spell the end of Ninty's motion-sensored domination.
In homage to the latest and greatest innovation to be blessed on our console adventures, we plug the iconic controllers back in and see how they revolutionised the way we roamed around those pixelated lands.
Atari 2600 joystick
As Disco burned the airwaves and the dancefloors, these rubbery joystick numbers helped welcome gaming into our homes on a truly global scale. The digital joystick with 2-axis (well, three if you twisted the stick around a bit) also hosted just that single orange 'fire' button. On the face of it, it was a plain a controller as you are going to see, but it was more than capable in handling the entire 2D game back catalogue, which helped fuel the Atari addiction for the first swarm of bedroom gamers.
One of the few things Ninty managed to get right with their sixth generation console offering, this wing-shaped controller boasted both analog and digital controls. Led by that chunky green button, it was certainly a different take on the usual layouts.
The battery-powered Rumble Pak from the N64 got the chop, with all the vibrating goodness supplied separately. The shoulder buttons had both digital and analog properties, helping to include additional buttons without actually physically adding to the pad.
A special mention should go to the Wavebird, a wireless variation of the original controller which is compatible with the Nintendo Wii.
Featuring three less buttons than its 16-bit rival, this rounded gamepad was a staple diet for those indulging in hefty Streets of Rage sessions. Chunkier than the SNES controller, it was in fact lighter in comparison, therefore more liable to be flung out of your hands while you busy yourself taking down a criminal syndicate.
When Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat reared their multi-combo heads, the need for more buttons was clearly in need. Sega duly released a six-button controller in 1993 leaving all those deprived of enjoying the delights of Capcom and Midway's fighting classics finally able to memorise those intricate button combinations.
Arriving in all the colours of the rainbow, it was the first game controller to include both an analog control and haptic feedback by way of the Rumble Pak.
The three-pronged design meant you could hold the control in three different ways. The pad featured 8 action buttons with a "Z trigger" hidden underneath the pad a particularly well positioned addition.
Due to the influx of 3D gaming, the analog stick was a welcome inclusion, using optical sensors to determine the position of the stick, allowing you to roam without the restrictiveness of the D-pad.
Host to many a retro t-shirts across the land, this rectangular gamepad specimen was by no means ergonomic, but it was all the same a key player in the evolution of the games controller. Along with imprinting its corners into your palms, the NES controller was much slimmer than previous home gaming offerings.
Interestingly, the iconic red circle buttons we came to cherish, did in fact begin life as squares, but due to the fact that they kept getting caught in the casing, they were swiftly replaced.
Playstation DualShock 3 controller
Staying true to that familiar Playstation controller look, albeit with the addition of a piano black finish, the wireless accompaniment to Sony's third console instalment does not fail to impress.
A weightier of a pad, the sleek, black number works wirelessly for about 30 hours on full charge, while the USB connector can also act as a charger for the lithium battery in the controller.
The SIXAXIS movement sensor is still in full effect and includes the rumble feature compatible with titles such as Bioshock and Resident Evil 5. Proof yet again that staying with the tried and tested formula guarantees appeasing to your gaming audience.
Playstation DualShock Analog controller
In a bid to phase out their first stab at the ultimate controller, the Dual Analog Shock added vibration feedback, and added little rubber grips to the analog sticks to help you keep your thumbs firmly in place.
The two analog sticks were also fitted with two motors to create the rumble like effect, while pressing down on the analog sticks gave you two additional buttons to further enhance your manipulation of movement and interaction in increasingly 3D environments.
Super Nintendo controller
Head and shoulders above its control competitors at the time, Nintendo found the right formula in design and layout as the iconic four buttons in a diamond shape with accompanying shoulder buttons, set the precedent the likes of Sony and Microsoft would soon follow.
The directional pad perfectly comforted your frenetic digits, which was surmount to bliss when trying to get past Sagat for the seventh time.
The TV remote-looking controller revitalised the gaming world proving even your nan could get in on the gaming action.
The motion sensor device calibrated with the sensor bar that sits on your TV, allows you to get to grips with the Wiimote either horizontally or vertically, while the built-in speaker means you can hear the ping off a clean strike of a Wii Sports golf ball.
With optional accessories for your Wii wand to call home such as the Mario Kart steering wheel, Nintendo finds yet more reasons to use the Wiimote, which are more reasons why you need to buy one.
Wireless Xbox 360 controller
Anything was likely to be an improvement on the first incarnation of the Xbox controller. So Microsoft duly obliged by going back to the drawing board and developing a device far withdrawn from its cheap, and uncomfortable predecessor.
Amongst devising a more contoured, shapely model, the arrangement and layout of the buttons were tinkered with to achieve a more well proportioned gamepad. Microsoft minimised the previously domineering logo and gave it a purpose this time round, enabling you to power up your 360 from the push of the logo button.
There is the noticeable absence of motion-sensitive technology, but then it comes in handy when it doubles as a game controller for your PC.
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