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In Defense of the Classic Controller

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the more-buttons-less-hand-waving dept.

Input Devices 251

Kotaku has an opinion piece by Leigh Alexander singing the praises of classic, button-rich controllers for the level of precision and complexity they offer. While the Wii Remote and upcoming motion-control offerings from Microsoft and Sony are generating a lot of interest, there will always be games for which more traditional input devices are better suited. Quoting: "With all this talk about new audiences — and the tech designed to serve them — it's easy to get excited. It's also easy to feel a little lost in the shuffle. For gamers who've been there since before anyone cared about making games 'for everyone,' having that object in our hands was more than a way to access the game world — it was half the appeal. Anyone who's ever pulled off a chain of combos in a console fighter can tell you about the joy of expertise and control. ... Gamers may suffer some kind of identity crisis as the familiar markers of their beloved niche evolve — or disappear entirely. The solution to that one's easy: Get over it. Like it or not, it's clear that gaming's not a 'niche' anymore, and its shape will change. The more pressing issue is whether or not controller-less gaming will truly make the medium richer. Making something 'more accessible' doesn't necessarily make it better."

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251 comments

Classic Controllers (4, Insightful)

emocomputerjock (1099941) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526707)

I have always maintained that the original SNES controller is the best gaming controller ever developed. It has the right feel, just enough buttons, and great responsiveness. I haven't seen a better pad in 20+ years of gaming.

Re:Classic Controllers (5, Insightful)

sys.stdout.write (1551563) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526753)

So this quote doesn't fully address the One True Controller debate, but I think it's important to realize that we were all children when this equipment came out and we may have a bad case of rose-colored glasses.

In the words of Douglas Adams:
  • everything that's already in the world when you're born is just normal
  • anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it
  • anything that gets invented after you're thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it's been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

Re:Classic Controllers (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527285)

In the words of Douglas Adams:

  • everything that's already in the world when you're born is just normal
  • anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it
  • anything that gets invented after you're thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it's been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

That is so true. I think of this [fsdn.com] when I hear the phrase "classic controller". This [gawker.com] is new fangled and weird. I can't imagine playing Star Raiders, or Crossfire with one. (Well, I could, it's just that all my reflexes are trained to have a fire button under my left thumb.)

Yo motherf***** Wii (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527445)

I think of this when I hear the phrase "classic controller".

And I immediately think of a Wii accessory, as does Google.

Re:Classic Controllers (4, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527331)

So this quote doesn't fully address the One True Controller debate, but I think it's important to realize that we were all children when this equipment came out and we may have a bad case of rose-colored glasses.

You raise a good point with the curmudgeon angle. I can't stand playing shooters with a console controller, I need a mouse and keyboard. But this does not discount that there are people very, very good with the console controller. You probably can't argue the inherent superiority of one over the other but you can certainly see how personal preference can enter into it. I grew up on mouse and keyboard control for shooters so it feels more natural.

There's probably still good room for controller innovation and it would also depend on the kind of game you're playing. Digital controls suck for racing. The analog sticks are ok but you really need a wheel for it to feel right. Likewise, flight sims don't feel right with anything other than a proper joystick to control the aircraft.

I think there's a lot of room out there for controller innovation but the downside is that it greatly increases the cost of the game. I was skeptical about the potential for Guitar Hero due to requiring an expensive guitar controller for the full experience. I was extremely skeptical about the equipment cost for Rock Band. Turns out those games were popular enough to support it. The Wii motion controller is great for games designed with it in mind but there are many genres where the motion controller just doesn't cut it, you need a traditional gamepad.

We've traditionally seen more innovation in the arcade game market since the special hardware development is simply part of designing the game and it all comes with the cabinet. As electronics become cheaper, we might end up seeing more customized controllers for specific games.

Re:Classic Controllers (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527425)

Well, I can't stand playing shooters with a keyboard and mouse, I'm only willing to use a keyboard.

Or in other words, get off my lawn. This new technology of a decade ago both confuses and infuriates me.

Re:Classic Controllers (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527713)

I can't stand playing shooters with a console controller, I need a mouse and keyboard.

What would you use a mouse for? Shooters are best played with an arcade stick.

Re:Classic Controllers (2, Funny)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528067)

Hokey religions and arcade sticks are no match for a good keyoard and a mouse at your side, kid.

Re:Classic Controllers (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528249)

I think he meant that "shooter" means a shoot'em up. Though I do think that those can benefit from mouse controls because I find it easier to navigate through a bullet hell with a mouse cursor than with digital controls and a slow button.

Re:Classic Controllers (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528199)

People playing on consoles get auto-aim to some degree. Mouse and keyboard is more accurate and much faster. They are given a handicap to compensate....

Re:Classic Controllers (1)

Mushdot (943219) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526847)

It was the SNES controller that sprang to my mind before seeing your comment. That and I think the Gamecube controller are probably the best ones. I find that the PS/Xbox controllers always make my hands ache after playing for a while and I can never use them as instinctively as the Nintendo pads.

Re:Classic Controllers (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527663)

While I'm completely with you on the SNES controller, I do have a one beef with the Gamecube controller.

I remember always having a problem with realizing the Z button was there just above the right trigger. Sure I'm now used to the X360 with the buttons above the left and right bumpers, but for some reason only having one on the right side felt weird at the time coming from the N64 controller where the Z was on the bottom like a trigger.

Re:Classic Controllers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28527689)

The Gamecube controller was great, especially if you're someone like me, who hasn't bothered to learn what the buttons are called on any controller past the MegaDrive. The D-Pad was a bit iffy (a little too stiff, and in completely the wrong place), but everything else was great - all the buttons were pretty responsive, and the button layout was brilliant. It had an incredibly obvious primary and secondary button, and you could feel which button your fingers were on by the shape alone. On-screen descriptions of which button to press worked better than any other controller, even for the X and Y buttons.

Quick-Time Events were pretty rare on Gamecube games, but at least you don't have to have memorized the names (or colours, or symbols) of every button. I actually can't play a lot of newer games, particularly on the PS3 (I can never remember which button's the square one, and which button's the circle) because they just don't give you enough time to look down at the pad to work out which button to press. Not to mention the nearly identical L1/R1 and L2/R2 button pairs, or the totally insane L3/R3 pair (which aren't even buttons).

The Wii remote + nunchunk actually makes a pretty decent controller for regular games too. You've got two buttons underneath your fingers at all times, another two in close range to your left index or middle finger, and a decent enough analog stick (although it's a bit slippery for my liking). OK, it's no GameCube controller, but I find it much more comfortable than a PS3 or Xbox 360 controller.

Oddly, I can only play Smash Bros. with a Gamecube controller, but I can only play Mario Kart with a Wii remote + nunchuck...

Re:Classic Controllers (0)

cupantae (1304123) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527119)

I used to think so, too, but I think Sony made the right decision in developing the Playstation controller: it fits perfectly in large hands. If you think back to when the Playstation was launched, there was a clear message that this was serious stuff - no more cutesy characters running about. Now, holding my SNES pad (in hands big enough to pick up a basketball with just one), there's a lot of empty space.

Re:Classic Controllers (1)

castironpigeon (1056188) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527361)

That, or the Sega Genesis controller. Every controller to come out after those two has been a real pain in the ass to use.

Re:Classic Controllers (3, Insightful)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527809)

The XBOX 360 controller imo is the best one to ever come out. Could you perform the dozens of different actions/moves in modern games with a snes controller? No. The 360 controller has the sticks offset which is MUCH more natural feel and orders of magnitude better than the Playstation design, the 2 triggers, 2 bumpers, and 4 buttons are also setup in a way that is extremely easy to use and very intuitive.

Re:Classic Controllers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28527981)

you do realize that you are talking about a slightly reshaped Dreamcast controller, right?

Re:Classic Controllers (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528127)

The XBOX 360 controller imo is the best one to ever come out. Could you perform the dozens of different actions/moves in modern games with a snes controller? No.

Only if you think thumb joysticks were ever a good idea to begin with. Everything that the Xbox 360 controller can do that the SNES controller can't is done better by either a mouse or a real joystick, thankyouverymuch!

Re:Classic Controllers (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528087)

Having owned both consoles back in the day (actually, I still do own them, come to think of it...), I have to say that the SNES controller was superior to the Genesis one. First, it managed to be just as ergonomic to hold even though its roundness was considerably less prominent -- it's a tie in that regard. Second, and more importantly, the SNES controller had both more buttons and had them in a better layout. The Genesis's A-B-C arranged linearly meant it was hard to hit A then C (or vice-versa) in quick succession, while the SNES's A,B,X,Y arranged in a diamond meant the button you needed was always right next to the one your thumb was on. Plus, the SNES controller had the L and R "triggers" (though they weren't analog back then).

Personally, I think the SNES controller is the best design of the pre-thumb-joystick era, or perhaps even the best ever (especially since I'm not all that into thumb joysticks). Maybe that's rose-colored glasses, but I don't believe so. Runners up include the Sony Dual Shock (PS/PS2/PS3) and the Wii Remote (for the "thumb joystick era" and "new HCI gimmick" categories, respectively).

Re:Classic Controllers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28527647)

I have to agree with this.

Due to an accident I lost the upper phalanx of my left hand thumb when I was a kid.

However, I could play using the the NES and more importantly the SNES controllers without any trouble.

Present day controllers have these analog sticks which are positioned at the center of the controller, unfortunately it is not easy for me to play with them (I can, but need to make an effort to reach the stick).

Re:Classic Controllers (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527673)

Have you used a Saturn pad? 6 buttons on the face, 2 shoulders, a great d-pad, and really crisp response. It's particularly loved for fighting games, where 4 face buttons just aren't enough. It's actually in such demand that Sega released a new USB version.

Re:Classic Controllers (1)

emocomputerjock (1099941) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527975)

I have! I've used everything from the Odyssey through the Wii - I'm talking trackballs, light pens, R.O.B., the Atari paddle controllers (which are my 2nd favorite of all time thanks to Pong and Night Driver) and nothing has played as well as the SNES controller across so many games for any of the systems I've played. Heck, it was even useful in RPGs like FF3(6). On a related note, the worst controller of all time was the CDi.

Re:Classic Controllers (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527767)

Don't forget about the "super action controller" for the Colecovision. It was the pistol grip-style, four buttons on the grip, a joystick, a dial-like thingy, and a keypad. Hell, I bet you could play Guitar Hero with it...

Re:Classic Controllers & the power of nostalgi (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528311)

I have always maintained that people have unrealistically positive judgment about artifacts of their youth. Like you with the flat brick, too few buttons and purely digital goodness of the SNES controller.

Like me with Dual Shock. Though in this case...for some reason every next generation of classic controllers from competing manufacturers were becoming closer to Dual Shock, even though they really tried to be different at first. DS otoh - virtually unchanged since...1996? (Dual Analogue Controller, Japanese version with rumble) There is a reason for that...

You might love Nintendo more than SCE, but there were sound reasons why the latter kicked N ass for almost a decade. I'd say SCE had indeed created the best "classic" console to date with the driving concepts behind PS1 (and PS2 to a lesser degree). That includes the controller.

sigh (4, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526729)

Anyone afraid that buttons are going to disappear is just getting upset for no good reason. There's bazillions of hours invested into buttons, programming buttons, and designing game interfaces around buttons. Everyone isn't going to just up and abandon all of that investment and knowledge just because something new has appeared.

You'll just have to live with the fact that your beloved button based games might have to sit next to some motion control games on the store shelves. But that's not really something worth whining about.

Punch Out is a good example (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28526795)

Punch Out for the Wii has both motion based and button based control schemes. Very few people use the motion based controls after the first few levels, because, let's face it, we're not real boxers and most of have no desire to be.

Re:Punch Out is a good example (3, Interesting)

cflannagan (870780) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527147)

Very few people use motion based controls after the first few levels? I'm in the middle of title defense series and am still using motion based controls, and don't see any issues with it (yes I'm familiar that motion recognition can and do suck for other games, but not this one for me at least). How did you determine that very few people were using it after the first few levels? Not doubting you, I just wanted to make sure you reached that conclusion through some polls or some scientific means.

Re:sigh (1)

bwalling (195998) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526817)

You'll just have to live with the fact that your beloved button based games might have to sit next to some motion control games on the store shelves. But that's not really something worth whining about.

I think their fear is that sales numbers of non-button mashing games might cause a supply shift. Really, though, they're just whining about change. Everyone whines about changing things they're used to. After a while, they look back and say "what was I thinking back then".

Re:sigh (4, Insightful)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527087)

Use the right tool for the job.

I'm not about to try to play Starcraft 2 using only motion controls. I need a keyboard. A *REAL* keyboard (not even a Chat Pad that has all of the right buttons). There are certain cases where the game lends itself to motion control (bowling or tennis, sure -- flight sim, no). As long as game designers use the right controller for the job, I'll be happy. I don't mind playing a game that makes me expend some energy manipulating a motion controller -- it's very immersive. I also don't mind playing a game that required 40 different buttons and three keyboard overlays to give the right feel. As long as they stick to that, they can be successful.

Re:sigh (1)

gzearfoss (829360) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527373)

I also don't mind playing a game that required 40 different buttons and three keyboard overlays to give the right feel.

The only problem is trying to 'invest' enough time to learn everything you can do in the game - Nethack, anyone? Being able to #rub is useful, but it isn't exactly the most intuitive command.

Re:sigh (2, Insightful)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528117)

Nethack

Still one of my favorite games. And you are right that it isn't intuituve because of how many commands there are.....but I'm willing to invest the time if the game is worth the investment. Which goes back to my comment about the right tool for the job....in this case a keyboard (I couldn't imagine all of the "macros" that would be needed to play nethack with a Wii-mote). FYI, a decent Nethack-like game that can be played entirely with a stylus is Powder (http://www.zincland.com/powder/index.php?pagename=about); similar level of complexity and a decent stylus based navigation.

Even touch games on the iPhone.....some lend themselves very well to a touch interface, others not so much. Luckily, there are other inputs that can be paired with touch (GPS, tilt, now a compass) which can open up more gaming options.....but you still will find that some games just aren't suited for some platforms. (Also why PC gaming will never die...nor will console gaming. They will just find their balance point and co-exist.)

Re:sigh (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528193)

But there are a lot of games released on Wii that use motion controls for no apparent reason. In fact, I'd say that about 85% of the Wii's games use motion control for no real reason and the gameplay suffers because of it.

Re:sigh (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528223)

I'm not about to try to play Starcraft 2 using only motion controls. I need a keyboard. A *REAL* keyboard (not even a Chat Pad that has all of the right buttons).

More importantly, you need a mouse. (Although, I've had an idea bumping around in my head for a RTS that would be controlled using a stylus (circle your troops to select rather than drag diagonally to make a bounding box; giving orders in a way similar to drawing football plays on a chalkboard; etc.).

Re:sigh (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528237)

Exactly. I like Descent for the Amiga back in college. At first I was a button smashing fool. Got a descent flight stick much better. Got a better, twisting flight stick, even better.

I never liked the mouse + keyboard for FPSs, probably because I lack fine motor control or my mouse wasn't very good. My example here is the Marathon series from Bungie. I could never get the vertical back correctly.

I am not a good gamer; my current favorite (latest) games are the Lego Star Wars/Indiana Jones games. Simple to play, easy controls. I use a Logitech PS2 type controller. I tried playing Halo on my friends box a few years ago, and I think I shot myself in the crotch.

As for the "40 button" type games, this is where I got left behind long ago. Once a game gets to a certain level of complexity just to play it, I'm done. Like I said, I'm not much of a gamer. I have MAME installed. I have the Namco classics PS1 game pack. Basically, compared to most people here, I suck.

Back to the main point, trying to play a flight simulator by using body motions such as flapping your arms and nodding your head is not going to cut it. SQLGuru hit it spot on- you need the right controls for how the game is to be played.

Re:sigh (2, Interesting)

Steve525 (236741) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528345)

Use the right tool for the job.

I agree -
2-D Platformers and most classic games -> d-pad, joystick, or keyboard (my preference is joystick, but I'm an old-timer)
3-D Platformers -> modern console (except Wii)
First person shooter -> mouse and keyboard
Real time strategy -> mouse and keyboard
Flight simulator -> joystick and keyboard (unless you spring for a more involved setup)
Driving -> steering wheel and pedals.
Rhythm -> unique controllers - here the controller basically is the game, and the games are differentiated primarily by the controller.
Wii -> Motion controllers like these are still in their infancy. Wii Sports, etc., hints at what's to come.

I second another post that comments that modern console controllers (Wii, not withstanding) are jacks of all trades, masters of none. They work reasonable well for a huge gamete of game types, but I think 3-D platformer is the only game type that I think they are the best choice for.

I also think that for most games, simpler controls are better. Fewer buttons, less complicated maneuvers all allow the game to picked up quickly by a large number of people. Some people really enjoy mastering complicated controls, and that's fine. I just don't think that complicated controls make games fun for the majority of people.

Re:sigh (1)

ChefInnocent (667809) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526859)

I pretty much agree. The old button controller isn't going anywhere soon. Some games are much better with the standard button controller. Some games are much better with a keyboard. The Wii-mote and other devices are just adding to the gaming experience by offering another input device. I don't see any need to be concerned about the death of an input device just because it is the cool thing d'jour.

Re:sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28527303)

just as an FYI - it is de jour. The vowel in de only gets dropped if the next word starts with a vowel (e.g. some water = d'eau)

Re:sigh (1)

Theoboley (1226542) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527579)

Frankly i thought it was Du Jour. Then again it took 2 years of Spanish, and didn't learn a damn thing.

Re:sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28528083)

Frankly i thought it was Du Jour. Then again it took 2 years of Spanish, and didn't learn a damn thing.

You probably don't remember it because it's French.

Re:sigh (1)

Dusthead Jr. (937949) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527289)

I don't think that the whining is 100% unjustified, as annoying as whining can be. Sometimes the "new and improved" has a tendency to displace the old and traditional. There's the idea that if it's new and popular it must be better than the old so let's slow down with the old stuff and focus on the new. Which is the way it should be, that's how progress works. But sometimes the old works just as well, if not better, for some people.

Re:sigh (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527769)

If old and traditional have any merits beyond simply being old and traditional then it won't get displaced. Time (and sales) will tell.

Mouse and keyboard (4, Insightful)

Engeekneer (1564917) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526745)

For most non-simulator games, I'd stick with mouse and keyboard any day! Try to sniping someone in the head in a fast-paced game with a traditional controller without any auto aims, and then talk about "precision".

Re:Mouse and keyboard (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527251)

I always found games that actually took full advantage of having a whole keyboard were the most satisfying.

Re:Mouse and keyboard (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527413)

On the contrary, the best games are those that don't use a button just because it's there. I still don't see why a controller needs four shoulder buttons.

Re:Mouse and keyboard (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527797)

You know, there are other games besides simulators and first person shooters. Try playing Street Fighter, Ikaruga, or MegaMan with a mouse and keyboard and let me know how that works.

Re:Mouse and keyboard (2, Insightful)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527959)

Pretty well, actually. Its easier, in my experience, to input those long chains of commands for special moves with a keyboard, 2D platformers like Megaman work just as well with an "old-school" keyboard setup (read: arrow keys instead of WASD), and if you want to see how incredible playing a vertical shooter is with a mouse you should go and play Chromium B.S.U., available at your nearest Ubuntu repository.

About the only genre I can think of where a controller is noticeably superior to a keyboard and/or mouse are platformers, but even then I had no problem finishing Assassin's Creed with my trusty keyb+mouse combo. And, of course, simulations but for those you want a specialized controller anyways.

Re:Mouse and keyboard (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528177)

Yeah, I tagged the story "keyboardandmouse"

I recently picked up Armored Core 4 for the 360, and if I can't figure out a better way to map the buttons, I don't think I'll be playing much of it.

You've got auto-targetting (makes sense, you're in a high-tech mech thingy) but it gets knocked out all the damn time by one thing or another. You're left trying to aim and fire with the same finger (right thumb). If the the target is moving at all, you're pretty much fucked unless you get lucky. Worse, I'm not sure there's a good way to fix the problem, since the trigger buttons are very important to movement and need to be available at all times.

This would be a non-issue with a keyboard+mouse on the PC, which is where a game this complex really, really needs to be. It's got the opposite problem of the dumbed-down consolized games that end up on the PC so often recently--it's trying to be almost as complex as Mechwarrior 2 (maybe more so in it customization screens, which are also awkward with a controller) but it's just too much for the interface (360 controller) to comfortably handle.

Best controller, you ask? (3, Insightful)

Spyware23 (1260322) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526797)

D-pad: SNES
Analog: Gamecube.

Why? Go play some SNES/Cube games. I'm not sure which guys in Nintendo are developing the controllers, but they used to do a very, very good job. Too bad they kind of screwed up the Classic Controller for the Wii. They should have gone with the SNES controller, without editing too much, just new start and select buttons.

Re:Best controller, you ask? (1)

Jesterace (914041) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526835)

I as well found the gamecube controller very functional, even without too many buttons you can hit a combo of X+A or Y+A very easily. And I do agree the SNES controller was very comfortable.

Re:Best controller, you ask? (3, Insightful)

Logical Zebra (1423045) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526949)

To this day, I think of the buttons on my PlayStation or XBOX in terms of the SNES layout. "Hit the Y button! I mean the Square one!"

Re:Best controller, you ask? (1)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527897)

I find that the symbols on the PlayStation controller prevent me from confusing it with the SNES controller. It's the Xbox controller that kills me, because it uses the same letters the SNES controller uses, just backwards.

"OK, so now I just need to press A... oops, that was B because B is A and A is B and X is Y and Y is X and ... AAAAAGH!"

Re:Best controller, you ask? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28527123)

D-pad: Sega Saturn

Analog: Gamecube

Re:Best controller, you ask? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527193)

I think that the classic controller feels very much like a slightly thicker version of the SNES controller. And if you want a SNES controller for the Wii Nintendo made some in Japan and you can probably get them on e-bay or similar.

Re:Best controller, you ask? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528275)

I wonder if there's an SNES-like controller for the Wii that plugs directly into the console instead of into the back of a Wii remote (which is just stupid). Know of one?

I said that (4, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526837)

Making something 'more accessible' doesn't necessarily make it better.

I said that when they paved over paradise and put up a parking lot.

For short (2, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526839)

For short : diversity is good, no one size fits all solution, to each his own, etc...

Best controller ever: Gamecube controller (4, Insightful)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526841)

The gamecube controller is the best ever, imo.

The stick is in the upper left and not in the odd uncomfortable position of the dual shock stick.

The right button placement is great. Large A button in the middle. Small B button to the left. X is above the A and Y is to the right of the A. The buttons all have different shapes so you can feel what button your thumb is on without having to look.

And of course, the *epic* analog shoulder buttons. The buttons have a huge range of motion; I'm pretty sure they depress over half an inch, and they 'lock' at the bottom. I've never seen another controller with such awesome analog buttons.

Re:Best controller ever: Gamecube controller (1)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526917)

My only gripe in regards to the Gamecube controller is its tiny d-pad. Seriously, what am I supposed to do with this? But yes, other than that, the Gamecube controller was amazing. I wouldn't use any other analog stick for playing F-Zero GX.

Re:Best controller ever: Gamecube controller (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28527625)

I just got a GC controller for my Wii and yeah, the d-pad is a piece of shit. Just put buttons there, it's unusable in that position anyway (which is why Sony put the stick in the opposite place, I suppose).

Re:Best controller ever: Gamecube controller (1)

JCholewa (34629) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527683)

Gamecube's Z button is horrible, you have to keep your hands close together when using the controller. That last one is sort of a PC/Wii thing, but it's turning into a game breaker for me lately. A controller feels annoying to me nowadays if I can't just dangle my hands at my side or have them both resting on the arms of my chair.

But that aside ... yeah, the Z button. Breaks easily (on some controllers I've had, you have to press the fuck out of the button to get it to register, set on a weird hinge that feels awkward. N64's Z button was genius, but this implementation of it was a poor afterthought.

(other than that, it's a pretty great controller!)

Re:Best controller ever: Gamecube controller (1)

Reapy (688651) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527913)

Gamecube is decent, but the game really has to be tailored to the controller to work well. Combos like b + x or y or the z button really become awkward. I also disliked the huge shoulder buttons as they took a lot of weight to push in, and usually resulted in cramped fingers for me after playing games like rogue squadron where I had to keep the button depressed for a long while.

I liked the dual shock ones when they came along, just for having the analog sticks there, but later came to like the xbox's analog stick placement.

The 360 controller has come to be my favorite (though i have yet to touch the ps3 one), though I would prefer that they flatten the tops of the buttons a bit so they don't hurt my fingers during long play sessions where you might be aggressively pressing them. The dpad gets the job done too, though I do like the playstation style d pad a lot.

I like having the bumper buttons available to hit with a different feel then the trigger in addition to the standard buttons and the analog sticks. Another big selling feature for me is how easily it works on the pc without having to go out and get anything funky to plug it in (I assume ps3 works this way as well?)

Either way, gamecube was nice, but only because most of the better games on it uses few of the buttons. It was a nice system for its games, but it was not as versatile as the other controllers.

No (2, Insightful)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526843)


Gamers may suffer some kind of identity crisis as the familiar markers of their beloved niche evolve or disappear entirely. The solution to that one's easy: Get over it.

You know, I always think it's great when people say this, but they always forget the alternative... I don't have to play video games if I don't think they are fun. There are tons of other things to do in this world. In fact, I'm actually not going to play video games if I don't think they are fun. I have something called a job for when I want to do things that aren't fun.

More importantly for the people who say, "Get over it," if I find that the new video games aren't fun, I'll stop buying them and wait until someone produces some that are worthy. Heck, since I'll likely fill my leisure time with alternative activities I might just forget that games exist entirely....

Re:No (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527763)

More importantly for the people who say, "Get over it," if I find that the new video games aren't fun, I'll stop buying them and wait until someone produces some that are worthy

There are enough great classic games available that you should never need to wait. If they stopped making video games today, I don't think I'd even notice.

Better is relative (1)

brennanw (5761) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526869)

"Making something 'more accessible' doesn't necessarily make it better."

Well... it does make it better for people who previously found it less accessible.

It's interesting, though, what you can acclimate yourself to. Back in the day, when I was a young buck, I had no trouble memorizing the completely keyboard-driven controls for PC games like the Ultimas I-V, and I found the simplified, mouse friendly interface of Ultima VI maddening. That said, despite my familiarity with not necessarily user-accessible controls, a console gaming controller renders me utterly helpless.

Half the appeal? (0)

MojoRilla (591502) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526873)

Having a game controller was half the appeal? Tell that to PC gamers, who by and large still use the keyboard.

Also, who is going to miss the arcane key combinations required to pull off a chain of combos? I for one won't miss Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A [gameinformer.com] one bit.

Re:Half the appeal? (5, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526987)

That's not a chain of combos, it's a cheat code, and if putting it in takes any effort on your part (enough effort for you to "not miss it") then you've got no business talking about classic controllers.

Now get off my 30-liv^W lawn!

Motion control in portables (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28526901)

Give me motion control on my portable systems. I want to look like a complete idiot in the waiting room. "Sir, Mental Health is down the hall."

Seperate the hands (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28526913)

If there is one thing I wish all consoles would adopt from the Wii it's not the motion controlls but the ability to hold your hands independently.

Playing Zelda on the Wii was the most relaxing way to play a game I've experienced to date. I could just sit back, put one hand behind my head while the other rests comfortably on the couch. I want to do that on the other consoles, too.

Bah; kinesophobia (2, Interesting)

Millennium (2451) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526919)

The alleged "greater precision" of button-mashers is imaginary; a side effect of someone afraid to learn a new skill. People said exactly the same thing about analog sticks, and D-pads before them, and both times they were wrong. They are wrong again.

As for gratuitous complexity, which the author (like many others) have mistaken for "depth," this is a harmful thing. It has driven far more people away from gaming than it ever attracted, creating shallow and unrewarding experiences for most with very little actual gain in game quality: a childish domination fantasy, nothing more. This is just someone who wants to keep people out of gaming, and like other kinesophobes he deserves exactly two options: take the plunge or don't play. His attitude is harmful to the industry and ultimately, it's unhealthy to himself. He doesn't need more games; he needs professional help.

Re:Bah; kinesophobia (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527097)

Um... No. Let's do a test: you grab that Wii MotionPlus over there. I grab my mouse and keyboard over here. We do a deathmatch for a bit and see who wins, mkay?

Seriously, there IS a difference, it is not an imaginary fallacy like you seem to think. Controllers let you do actions that would otherwise be impossible to do. Try playing God of War and tell me if you can pull out every single move in the game (otherwise what's the point of motion control?). Sure, it can work for golfing, bowling, tennis and a few things like that, but actual, physical controllers with buttons all over are far from dead.

Re:Bah; kinesophobia (0, Troll)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527385)

Yeah, my first thought was "Great, one of those freaks who could actually pull off every single move and combination in Street Fighter at will is whining because he might have an unreasonable edge in new games." For games like FPS, game controllers aren't anywhere near as precise as keyboard/mouse or using the wiimote as a pointing device. Button-mashing mechanics will only be missed by those who had an over-reliance on it for winning.

Re:Bah; kinesophobia (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527865)

The alleged "greater precision" of button-mashers is imaginary; a side effect of someone afraid to learn a new skill. People said exactly the same thing about analog sticks, and D-pads before them, and both times they were wrong.

No, they had a point. Some games just don't fit with analog sticks. I know I can't play shmups with an analog stick, and it's not for lack of trying. A d-pan is better but the precise click of a good arcade joystick is superior for many types of games. Analog sticks have their places (3d platformers, flight sims, etc) but they don't replace the arcade joystick by any means.

For the most obvious example, try playing Pacman with your playstation controller and an arcade stick. The superiority of the arcade stick (in that contest) is obvious.

New controllers opens new doors, but... (2, Interesting)

jfbilodeau (931293) | more than 4 years ago | (#28526963)

I've enjoyed Wii Sports, Warioware Smooth Moves and the likes. They are a lot of fun and burn calories. However, I find I spend more time on the couch playing games like Metroid Prime 3 or Resident Evil 4 which make great use of the Wii Remote, but don't require to turn a game session into aerobics. This is why I don't see classic controllers being replaced by the likes of Natal anytime soon.

There will be a lot of impressive tech demos with Natal and probably a couple of fun games with the Sony controller, but I'm of the opinion that Nintendo achieved the best balance of motion vs classic controller.

Re:New controllers opens new doors, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28527649)

I really feel the pointer is the greater advantage of the Wii Controller. I'm really surprised at the number of games that ignore it, even for things like menu selection (Smash Brothers, I'm looking at you)

Soon button games will be like 2d platform games.. (1)

NukeDoggie (943265) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527001)

But really isn't motion control really about MORE granularity of control? There are 360 degrees of freedom in all 3 axes giving you MUCH more control really. Also, there will still be some buttons. Instead of doing an actual action (uppercut to the left) they have made it a tight series of button presses.

The worst example of this is Guitar Hero, where it is really NOTHING like playing guitar really.

Button based games are like 2D platform Games vs 3D First Person Shooters, they will always be beloved, but I bet you they will feel 10 years ago pretty soon...

What if you have 6 buttons and 4 motion controllers?? 2 feet, 2 hands and 3 buttons in each hand?!?

And a shout out to... (3, Funny)

hotdiggity (987032) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527029)

The original Atari 2600 joystick. Which, I believe, was also the de facto default joystick of the Commodore 64. One button. One stick.

And did anyone else take it apart to press the "left" and "right" contact points simultaneously? Jiggling the joystick back and forth in the track events of Summer Games was for suckers.

Good times.

Re:And a shout out to... (1)

Trunklebob (457750) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528239)

Not only did I test the whole "2 opposite directions at the same time", I rewired the joysticks. The Atari family, the TI 99/4A, and the Odyssey2 all used the same DB-9 connector, but with different pinouts. As our systems aged and joysticks died, we had to shuffle them from system to system.

My father taught me to use a multimeter to map out the different pinouts when I was 10 or 11. Radio Shack sold imitation Atari joysticks for like $5; with no eBay or Google, finding a replacement joystick for a dead console was a weeks or months long proposition. My friends with less technical upbringings would be shocked to find me playing Parsec or Munch Man with a 2600 controller.

Re:And a shout out to... (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528397)

Screw that. If you were serious about gaming you would have had the Epyx 500XJ [vintagecomputing.com]. And you would use it until the red plastic stick broke off and your left hand curled up into a ball from the painful cramps, and then you would keep on going -- pushing the steel rod around with your right hand and pushing your knee against the button until your power supply overheated and you just couldn't play any more.

Gimme back my joystick! (1)

Angstroem (692547) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527089)

I never grew fond of these so-called controllers where I have to use my left thumb for steering because someone thought, hey, screw those righthanders by putting the movement control on the controller's left side.

I was perfectly happy with the old (digital) joysticks like the Competition Pro or some more robust joyboards which could be fixed to the desk using suction cups, and also offered automatic fire triggering.

Where I can see a use of the WiiMote for more lifelike gameplaying (e.g. Golf, Swordfight, Tennis), I never found these weird "let's replace the joystick by buttons or just a small thumbstick" controls really useful...

No, gamepads suck (2, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527199)

Gamepads, or the "classic" controllers he's whining about, actually suck quite a lot. They have terrible precision when compared to a mouse, don't work that well for things like Flight Sims when compared to a flightstick, and don't offer accessability over motion controls.

I've never understood the appeal. Playing console shooters is like steering a drunk camel compared to on the PC. Good RTS with large numbers of units is pretty much a joke. Trying to explain to a non gamer how to play is an exercise in futility compared to the thirty seconds it takes to understand the Wiimote.

The only real upside to the things is that they're generic. You can shoehorn a lot of game types to work on the thing, no matter how badly it works for most of them.

Re:No, gamepads suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28527787)

Different controllers for different genres. Most any actiony 2D game feels better with a gamepad. So do games like GTA and Overlord, which were admittedly designed for consoles. Though steering a car with mouse + keyboard is going to suck regardless.

And I say this as someone who hasn't owned a console since the N64. But a $20 PS2-style gamepad for the PC makes a lot of games (not to mention an SNES emulator wit a stack of ROMs) much more fun.

Re:No, gamepads suck (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528035)

Gamepads, or the "classic" controllers he's whining about, actually suck quite a lot. They have terrible precision when compared to a mouse, don't work that well for things like Flight Sims when compared to a flightstick, and don't offer accessability over motion controls.

Gamepads suck for first person shooters and flight sims, obviously. But mouse and keyboard sucks just as badly for 2d platformers, shmups, fighting games, etc. Go play Sonic 2, Marvel vs. Capcom, Radiant Silvergun, Metal Slug, Double Dragon, etc. etc. and you'll be begging for a gamepad (or arcade stick :)).

GamePads don't suck - you do? (1)

Laebshade (643478) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528075)

Like any tool, the more you use, the better you get at using it. I too had your same skepticism when it came to playing console FPSers after playing computer FPSers for so long. It takes a while, but after a few months, you get good at using the analog sticks to aim. Really good. Then you realize you have a lot more fun playing on your couch, reclined, with one controller in hand than you ever did sitting at your computer, back straight, staring at the comparatively tiny screen, using a few keys on one instruments to move around while the other controls your Z axis and firing. You're stuck to that computer. If I'm playing Call of Duty on my couch, and I want to switch to the other couch, or recline on my couch, lay down on my couch, or use my recliner, I can. I can stand while playing. My once gamer PC now sits in my room; I've since ditched windows on it in favor of Ubuntu, but I still only use it a few times a week. Most of my time is spent in my living room on my Xbox or using my MPC. But I do agree with you on one point: RTS on a console just doesn't work.

Re:No, gamepads suck (2, Informative)

Fumus (1258966) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528155)

Try playing a fighting game with a keyboard and mouse. As much as I like that combo for shooters, I cannot imagine playing a game like Devil May Cry 4 or even Prototype without a gamepad. The xbox360 one is rather clumsy and doesn't fit my hands, so maybe try some other ones if that's the only one you tried? My Thrustmaster Dual Trigger 3-in-1 is stunning compared to how the xbox one feels.

Re:No, gamepads suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28528243)

I guess if "most of them" are FPS and RTS games, then you'd be right. I agree complete that the mouse is better for FPS than a pad, though I'm not so convinced on WASD VS analog joystick. In RTS games, a keyboard mouse combo is unquestionably better.

Fortunately, there are far more genres than FPS and RTS, for which, a joypad is a much better fit.

Atari Jaguar Pro Controller (1)

ssjx (1235532) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527221)

Now there's a giant controller for those that like buttons! The key overlays are cool too...

Re:Atari Jaguar Pro Controller (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527401)

i.e. the Intellivision reinvented - that too had overlays and a keypad. The main control 'disc' sucked though.

I think it is incredibly short-sighted (1)

holychicken (1307483) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527431)

to not only not see the end of button controllers coming soon, but to see that as a bad thing.

Unless something drastic happens that makes us believe that we can't control games well with natural human movements, the controller is going to die.

Games are just so much more fun for so many more people when the input is intuitive rather than requiring you to learn what every buttons does. For those of us who grew up doing so AND kept practicing, it is not so hard, but for most people that is not true. And even for those of us who can do it, I wouldn't believe you if you said that you didn't find picking up the Wii controller "refreshing" the first time you did so.

No "Perfect" Controller (1)

Blixinator (1585261) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527455)

Honestly, I've never had a controller that I couldn't get into. Controllers may differ greatly from one system to the next, but it's rather easy to get acustomed to the feel of it. You can even find your own ways of using it. My friend thought I was nuts when he saw me holding the N64 controller by the right and the middle protrusions for certain parts of games, but that was the easiest way for me at the time and it worked. I don't think there has ever been or will there ever be a "perfect" controller because each one can be adapted to.

Controller Luddite Alert ! (1)

gonzoxl5 (88685) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527607)

I think this is just an example of someone who is exhibiting the natural human trait of 'resistance to change', we do however have an even stronger trait and that's the desire to evolve.

The first console I ever played with was an old Binatone machine, it played ping pong and had a light gun, the second was the Atari VCS, it had a joystick, this was better at doing somethings as it allowed you to move in more dimensions, I don't think it was any better at Tennis.

Thereafter, down the years I have used many controllers, I play a lot of PC games and have both an old fashioned Sidewinder for playing some sims (I loved the SW FF btw) and a Thrustmaster FCS for playing some sims more properly, both are great at sims but would be rubbish at Tennis.

The only console I own is a Wii, the Wiimote is great at Tennis and with the nunchuk and the Zelda Crossbow plastic extension it also makes a great gun. If you make a Wiimote look like a wheel with another bit of plastic then that works fine as well.

I'm not sure we'll ever see one true controller as I think the controller is part of the immersive gameplay experience so it needs to have a character that matches what you are trying to achieve, both in order to feel right and also in order to work well. The wiimote is good at achieving this as it's different sleeves allow it to very effectively bridge the gap between what it is and what you want it to be like for a particular game.

I'm afraid I've never really been into fighting games so can't empathise with the loss of being able to make your favourite combo, I did really like my MS FF though and I've not found anything which felt quite as good since for the purpose of flying helicopters in BF1942 so I guess that's kind of similar. It was rubbish at Tennis though.

I think we're missing the point a bit... (2, Informative)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527609)

Motion control is useful in and of itself but more importantly, it has the potential to be a universal control system. Ideally any sort of control scheme could be emulated through a sufficiently sophisticated motion control system. Analog controllers, steering wheels, fishing poles, even d-pads and buttons. Are we there yet. Hell no. It's even still easier to use an old-fashioned controller than it is to use the steering wheel option in Mario Kart. But it's not exactly an impossible dream. Right now, there are several forms of control that can be successfully emulated by the Wiimote. I don't think the Wiimote will carry us to the end game of motion controls but it's not like the PS3 uses a one-button digital joystick made for left-handed people.

The problem isn't the controller. (2, Insightful)

Delusion_ (56114) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527699)

It's the interface. A controller is only half the story, and usually a lot less than that.

I'm not suggesting we go back to the Atari 2600/C64 era joystick, but it does have some lessons we should learn from. Some of the best interface design comes from embracing the limitations in the format. There were many C64 era games that, if they didn't use the keyboard at all, had to be somewhat creative on the control side. Four directions, one button, make it happen. Now, the trend seems to be that we need a discrete, separate button for every function a game has, and button combinations that are completely unobvious and arbitrary are a good thing.

As the Atari 2600 was my last console, after which I got on the 8-bit computer bandwagon, I say the following without any platform bias: The Sega Genesis system had it right in the first generation: stick and three buttons. http://www.thosewerethedays.de/items/joysticks/sega_genesis/fighter_stick_md-6_asciiware.JPG is similar, but is the 6 button version. I used this on the Amiga (which only supported one button, but very few games were programmed to use three, since the Atari and Sega joysticks had compatible connectors and pin layouts). It had heft, it was accurate, it was solid. With three buttons, you had to create a control mechanism, but you couldn't go down the road of arbitrary button hell. That's what the modern console controller feels like to me: hell, and inaccurate to boot.

Ahhh.... Disruption (1)

Slithe (894946) | more than 4 years ago | (#28527949)

Everyone nodding their heads in agreement should read Malstrom's articles [50webs.com]. Pre-1985 everyone knew the standard controller was a joystick. Then Nintendo released the button controller, and it became the standard. The joystick is still around for some specialist games like flight simulators, but new games have replaced it. Ironically, buttonpad games may soon be confined to the PC.

Button loss anxiety is justifialble. (4, Insightful)

BetterSense (1398915) | more than 4 years ago | (#28528279)

It's a legitimate worry. People keep assuring gamers that the two control systems will exist side-by side. They have a right to be skeptical.

Once upon a time, all movies were silent, and then someone invented the talkie. Great, now we can have silent movies AND talking movies! No, the reality is we only have talking movies. Eventually nobody makes silent movies anymore.

Same thing with black and white. Someone invents color film, and people thing WOW, great more options! Now we will have black and white and color movies! But the reality is we only have color movies after all. If you want to see a black and white movie you have to watch on old one or an independently produced one. Nobody makes them because nobody thinks they will sell, and only weird hardcore artsy people would value such an obsolete aesthetic on purpose.

Same thing with 2D sprite-based games. 3D comes along, and people at first thing Great! This 3D stuff is neat, now we can have 3D and 2D games. And good thing, because entire genres of games and styles of art are built around 2D graphics. There's no way people will just stop making 2D games. But the reality is that they do. After a while we only have 3D games after all, and 2D games are not taken seriously anymore.

I think that gamers are entirely justified in worrying about losing button-based gameplay when they see the hoards of casual gamers and advertising hype around motion-based control. In technology as soon as something is viewed as old-fashioned the perception is that it won't sell, whether it's black-and-white film or 2D graphics or button-based gameplay.
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