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Evolution of Video Game Controllers

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the we've-come-a-long-way-baby dept.

Input Devices 185

Ant writes "This Revolution Advanced article takes a look at the evolution of controllers from the days of Atari 2600 to Nintendo Revolution." Tragically the Intellivision controller is missing. But oh the nostalgia.

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Evolution of Slashdot dupes (-1, Offtopic)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606879)



This story seems oddly familiar [slashdot.org] ...

Re:Evolution of Slashdot dupes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14606895)

You didn't see,/b> anything....
*waves his hands around and takes the dupe away*

Re:Evolution of Slashdot dupes (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607185)

I wouldn't worry about it. This story sucks the big one. The reviewer unhelpfully skips over huge swaths of history (Hello? Intellivision? Colecovision? Oddessy 2? Where do they think Nintendo got their idea for the DPad?), attributes nonsensical statements to antique hardware (Users complained about the lack of a pause button on the 2600? WTF?), and yet manages to include the Playstation controller as if it had something notable about it.

I'm not really sure why this article exists. The reviewer is probably familar with modern systems, but really doesn't know that much about the history of video games. He needs to find something to write about that's more in his area of expertise. Either that, or do a bit more research next time. I can get him a 2600, 5200, 7800, Colecovision, and Intellivision no problem. I can even get him a Famicom floppy disk system, though it wouldn't come cheap. ;-)

Re:Evolution of Slashdot dupes (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607244)

I'll supply the Odyssey^2 :-)
-nB

The benefit of dupes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14607251)

Look on the bright side; once the server gets slashdotted, the dupe will still be available.

blasphemers! (4, Funny)

mickyflynn (842205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606881)

game controllers really WERE intelligently designed!

Re:blasphemers! (3, Funny)

ceeam (39911) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606937)

Are you sure certain game controllers have not just had sex with TV remotes?

Re:blasphemers! (2, Insightful)

Guano_Jim (157555) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606988)

Indeed they were.

Because they were Intelligently Designed, you see features appearing de novo with no ancestral features.

If controllers had evolved by natural selection, you'd expect to see incremental change in features that indicated common ancestry.

Ramen.

Re:blasphemers! (2, Funny)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607128)

I think that this is a case of the inadequacy of the fossil record. If the intellivison, colecovision, and various outher game controllers were added, as well as the species adapted for computer use, the so-caled gaps would not be apparent. Pure Sophistry, in my view. But then, ID is sophistry.

Re:blasphemers! (1)

genner (694963) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607170)

No they evolved over millions of years of random occurrences.
The idea that there was an engineer designing them takes science back
to the dark ages.

Re:blasphemers! (3, Funny)

3.14159265 (644043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607658)

Intelligently designed? Well, there's at least one fact against your "theory": the original XBox controller :)

Relations (1)

suso (153703) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606896)

Is it just me or does the Nintendo Revolution controller kinda resemble the Atari 5200 controller, at least in concept. We've come a long way indeed.

Re:Relations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14606924)

Is it just me or does the Nintendo Revolution controller kinda resemble the Atari 5200 controller, at least in concept.

Nope. I don't need to explain why it is just you because it isn't worth it.

Re:Relations (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606997)

How do you figure? The Revolution controller is a remote gamepad with positional sensors and an optional self-centering thumbstick that can be plugged in. The 5200 controller was a non-centering joystick with a clunky keypad attached.

The Revolution controller is really more like a combination of the NES Gamepad, the Powerglove, and the N64 thumbstick all stuck together in a blazingly white plastic package. (Fruity colors are on their way, I'm sure.)

Actually, it's quite amazing that so many games were played with the Atari controllers. A joystick just wasn't a very good choice for a non-fixed controller, and the microswitches wore out easily. (Try opening up a 7800 Proline controller sometime. That sucker is CHEAP.) The Nintendo gamepad was a serious revolution in gaming for several reasons:

1. You weren't constantly ripping the controller out of your own hand.
2. The switches were replaced with long-lasting circuit switches. Any wear and tear could easily be repaired with new rubber parts.
3. The lack of protrusions made it easier to store and less likely to break.
4. Nintendo could give us a quality controller at a very low price. (I don't even want to think about what the 5200 controller cost per unit.)

Re:Relations (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607020)

I forgot to mention. A lot of players mod their Genesis or Nintendo controllers to work with their old 7800 systems. I guess they get tired of playing with the Painline^W Proline joysticks. :-)

The Genesis controller seems to be the most popular as it uses the pins in a similar 1 Pin == 1 Button type of arrangement that the Proline controllers use. The NES uses a serial protocol, making the controller more flexible but much less easy to convert.

Re:Relations (1)

Yer Mom (78107) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607538)

European and Australian 7800s saved people the hassle by shipping with a pad [atariage.com] as standard.

Mind you, the Megadrive one would have been much more comfortable to use...

Re:Relations (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607809)

Mmm... yes, I did mention those in other posts. I've been trying to get my hands on one (they're a bit harder for us yanks to find), but I've heard that many players are upset over the poor quality of the devices. Supposedly, even players who have the joypads often get a Genesis controller simply because they don't want to bother nursing their joypad along.

That's what I've heard, anyway. Feel free to refute it if you've got more info. :-)

Re:Relations (1)

Steve525 (236741) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607215)

I already posted a comment below, but I'll respond here, too. I really like joystick controllers better. It is much easier to control something precisely when you are moving your whole hand, instead of a thumb. However, you do bring up some good points. It is difficult to make a non-fixed joystick contoller, unless you limit yourself to a few buttons. The 2600 contollers are an example of a non-fixed joystick that worked pretty well, but they only had one button. Also, they didn't last - It is certainly more expensive to make a joystick that will last, but there's no reason it can't be done. And, yes, a joystick is bigger and shaped funny, which makes them harder to store. (And also makes them impracticle for a portable device). Still, as far as actual game experience goes, I think the joystick is superior.

As far as the 5200 controllers go, the fact that joystick was non-centering was pretty bone-headed.

Re:Relations (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607481)

You forgot the main feature:

The internal 3d-space movement detector. I don't think that any other feature - except the additional nunchak - come even close to the relevance of this feature.

The only thing that sucks is that it's like aremote control. But i can't find a better combination of something like a handle of a stick/sword/whatever and a traditionad gamepad.

So i really hope this movement detectors will be the next big thing in controllers. Think of it inside a handheld console....
So much else could evolve.... *schweeeet* ;)

Hrm... (2, Interesting)

lonasindi (914571) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606909)

The controllers went, in my mind, from joystick to gamepad... is this an incorrect viewpoint?

Re:Hrm... (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607121)

That's pretty much correct. The article seems highly critical of the joystick controllers, but when Atari was king the joystick was all that anyone had envisioned. The few arcade games that didn't use joysticks (Space Invaders, Asteroids, Galaxian, etc.) used simple cherry-switch buttons instead.

Nintendo was ahead of its time when it developed the NES controller. Instead of a joystick, their extension of the buttons concept to a D-Pad created a huge boon in home gaming. Atari was still using their joysticks at the time (since they'd delayed the release of the 7800 by two years), but they quickly designed a joypad for the 7800 to compete. The joypad replaced the Proline as the standard controller for the European edition of the 7800.

Pretty much all controllers that followed the NES included a DPad. (Including Atari's own Jaguar.) The controller didn't change significantly until Nintendo again changed the landscape with the analog thumbstick. While an analog stick had been tried before on the 5200, it had suffered from two major issues:

1. It didn't center. At all. You had to move it back into place if you wanted to stop your character.

2. It was designed to be held in your hand. This meant that you were applying force across the entire controller, making it hard to hold onto. The thumbstick corrected this problem by using only your thumb for control while the rest of your hand maintained a solid grip on the rest of the controller.

The other issue with the 5200 controller, of course, was that it was simply ahead of its time. When the 5200 was released, analog sensor and ADCs weren't that cheap. By the time Nintendo released the N64, Analog to Digital converters were so cheap that one had to wonder why not to use them.

That being said, I'm glossing over the ADC on the Paddle Contollers, but that's another story all togther. :-)

Re:Hrm... (1)

maddskillz (207500) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607389)

I miss the square corners on the NES controller. They let you know when you played too much, because not just your thumbs would hurt from the buttons, but they would actually hurt the rest of your hand too. A good way to let you know it's time to go outside

/.'d already (1)

big_groo (237634) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606913)

Is it too much to ask to use the Coral Cache in article links?? .nyud.net:8090 isn't that complicated...

Re:/.'d already (4, Informative)

Freexe (717562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606943)

Evolution of Controllers

January 30, 2006

by: Sud Koushik

We take a look at the evolution of controllers from the days of Atari to Revolution.
If you approach any avid gamer, and ask him or her what they like best about video games in this time and age, there is a fairly good chance they will respond with something relating to either graphics, or gameplay. While those two criterias are very important to the creation of good video games, we often ignore, and neglect the main aspect that changed the way video games were played. I am of course referring to the main method of input in video games, the controller.

Since the dawn of video games, weve seen controllers ranging from numeric pads, to wireless, rumble emitting, ergonomic controllers. Some have been utter failures, while others have seen runaway success. However, with any successful product, its features and design will be mimicked in the hope of similar success. Thus through countless of variations of previous controllers we have arrived at what we hold and use today.

To show you how video game controllers have evolved from its primitive state, to their modern form, we have compiled an interactive chart of controllers ranging from the days of Atari, to the newest innovation in controllers, the Nintendo Revolution controller.

Atari 2600 Controller

The Atari 2600 had one of the first well known digital joysticks to ever be introduced. Long before Nintendo arrived with the Nintendo 64 and made analog sticks mandatory on a controller, Atari experimented with the 2600 joystick. Unfortunately for Atari, and any of those who tried playing with this controller, it was too bulky and difficult for anyone with small hands to hold. In addition to its large base, the joystick was stiff and often didnt work, and when it did, it was barely useable. The joystick only had eight directions, so in technicality it wasnt an analog joystick. Lastly with all the problems that plagued the controller, the absence of a pause button only made it worse, when the joystick stopped working, you couldnt even pause the game.

Atari 5200 Controller

With the Atari 5200, the joystick method of input returned. However it was accompanied by a numeric keypad positioned underneath the joystick. This joystick turned out to be slightly better then its predecessor, by sporting 360 degrees of complete motion, unlike the 2600s simplistic eight direction joystick. Atari also addressed the complaints of a pause button, and it was included with the 5200. Unfortunately the button placements on the controller were awkward, and lead to frequent hand cramps. There are buttons place in front of the joystick, causing you to have to literally have your hands upside down to press them.

NES Controller

The NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and Famicom (as it was referred to in Japan) had a rectangular shaped controller with a total of four buttons. There were two circle buttons, A and B along with a Start and Select button. The last feature the controller had was a four way directional D-Pad, which was designed by Gunpei Yokoi, as a superior alternative to the joysticks from Atari. The D-Pad revolutionized the gaming industry forever. It was Nintendos way to revitalize the slowly dying gaming industry and put it on its feet again.

SEGA Genesis Controller

With the release of the Sega Genesis, we see controllers start to have curved handles and a more sleek design. The original controllers that were packaged with the Sega Genesis included the typical A and B buttons that the NES featured, but added on a C button. The D-Pad itself was more of else like Nintendos design with a few alternations to get around the patent. Sega soon changed the Genesis controller to feature a total of six face buttons to coincide with the release of Street Fighter II: Special Championship Edition. Even to this day some fans consider the six button Genesis controller to be one of the best for fighting games.

SNES Controller

The SNES controller added more buttons then the NES controller as games were getting more complex. Nintendo added two new face buttons, the X and Y along with two shoulder buttons, L and R for left and right, respectively. The controller itself was curved more to fit into the hands of the player. A new button, the Turbo button was added on by Third Party controller manufacturers. It allowed you to do a certain move in a game without repeatedly pressing the button. It spread fast and was definitely a welcome feature.

Playstation Controller

The Playstation was Sonys first attempt into joining the home console market. Originally planned to be an add on to the SNES, it was scrapped by Nintendo as they left their partnership with Sony. Sony on the other hand took the knowledge and technology they had from working with Nintendo and made their Playstation console. The first Playstation controller was very much a mimic of the SNES controller. It had a D-Pad, four face buttons and trigger buttons. The only difference was instead of using alphabetic characters for the button names, Sony changed it to the Square, Triangle, Circle, and X. Nothing was truly different with the controller from its predecessors.

Nintendo 64 Controller

After the sure fire success of both the NES and SNES D-Pad Nintendo could have continued with another version of the D-Pad for its N64 controller. However for 3D games a four way method of control was not sufficient enough. So Nintendo decided to bring the analog stick to offer complete 3D control. However Nintendo themselves were not positive the controller would be a success, so they made sure to add the D-Pad to the left hand side of the controller. With the controller marked the absence of the X and Y buttons, but the addition of four C (Camera) buttons, that were on the right hand side of the controller. The best new button addition could be considered the Z trigger. The trigger was placed under the bottom of the controller, making it similar to the position of a trigger on a gun. It proved extremely useful in the First Person Shooter genre. When taking a look at the N64 controller it has three handles. This was done so that if the analog stick did not prove successful, the player could use the outermost handles to control the game using the familiar D-Pad and A, B buttons. The N64 also marked the first official rumble pack which gave gamers a new sensation when playing games.

Playstation Dual Shock

After Nintendo released the N64, Sony knew that the analog stick would be a mandatory feature for all controllers to have. So they went back to the drawing board and came up with a new version of their controller, that added two analog sticks, compared to Nintendos one. Mainly the second analog stick was to balance out the controller since there was no good location for just one of them.

Dreamcast Controller

The Dreamcast controller shared a resemblance to the 3D controller released late in the Sega Saturns lifetime. The controller was rather large, but comfortable to hold. It had a D-Pad, one analog stick, X, Y, A, and B buttons. However the true unique feature was the controllers VMU (Visual Memory Unit). It was essentially a memory card but had an LCD screen that provided information for the player while he was playing. It also could hold mini-games that you could play while not inserted into the Dreamcast controller.

Playstation 2 Dual Shock 2

The Playstation 2 Dual Shock controller was more or less an exact copy of the original Playstation model except with few minor alterations. After the Nintendo 64 introduced a rumble pack peripheral, Sony went ahead and made rumble standard in all of its controllers. The two analog sticks now also feature touch sensitivity. This allowed you to press down on the analog stick to make it perform a different move. Essentially it allowed for two new control options for developers while retaining the same amount of buttons.

Xbox Controller

Microsoft, after realizing the potential money to be gained from the video game industry released its Xbox home console. The console was the most powerful out of the three, but it was also the largest. The controller had the same problem, for it was pretty large and unwieldy. Soon after Microsoft cut production of their Duke controller and released the Xbox controller S which cut down the size and made it much more comfortable. Much like the N64 and Dreamcast the Xbox feature two slots for memory cards and other peripherals. It also had built in rumble and touch sensitive analog sticks like the Playstation 2. Microsoft also added two new buttons, the White and Black buttons which were barely used in the first batch of Xbox games. One unique feature the controller had was a longer cord, and a break away connector. This feature prevented the console from falling if the cord was pulled, or quickly yanked out.

GameCube Controller

Nintendo once again tried to change its controller so it helped make playing, and controlling games easier. The controller no longer had the four C buttons, but instead a C stick which was considered the GameCubes second analog stick. The controller also feature built in rumble support and the return of the A, B, X, and Y buttons. The Z button was relocated to the top of the controller next to the R trigger. Nintendo also introduced a wireless version of its controller called the Wavebird. The Wavebird allowed players to play up to 20 feet away from the TV. However since wireless controllers required batteries, Nintendo had to cut off the rumble feature to prevent a quick drain of batteries.

Xbox 360 Controller

The Xbox 360 controller is the most recent controller released. It has every button the original Xbox had, except now the White and Black buttons have become LB and RB buttons positioned on the shoulders of the controller. The controller also comes in wireless and wired formats, however unlike the Wavebird the wireless format does feature rumble integration, although there is an option to remove the rumble. Perhaps the most unique feature of the Xbox 360 controller is the Menu button. It is positioned right in the center of the controller and can bring up the Xbox Menu when pressed. This is used monitor your Xbox Live friends list, settings, and other features. The Menu button, when held down for over 5 seconds will allow you to turn off or turn on your system. Around the Menu button are four small lights positioned in a circle. Each light is marked 1, 2, 3, or 4. This light glows in its respective number slot to tell you which player you are when you have multiple controllers connected to your Xbox 360.

Playstation 3 Controller

The Playstation 3 controller is once again nearly identical to its predecessor. The handles have been lengthened to give the player a more ergonomic feel. Sony also said up to seven controllers can be connected to the Playstation 3 using Bluetooth wireless. Judging by the look of the controller there have been numerous complaints and humor directed at its shape and design. Sony has been quick to respond to such comments by saying that this controller is not the final product.

Revolution Controller

Nintendo has made controller features that have set the standard for controllers that follow it. D-Pad, Analog, Rumble, Wireless all have been created by Nintendo and then used by others. This time Nintendo wants to shift the way the controller is viewed. The Revolution controller is shaped unlike any controller before it, its design is in fact a close resemblance to a TV remote. The controller has an A and B button along with a trigger button placed underneath the controller like the N64 had. However Nintendo had something else up its sleeve. The controller will be able to operate in 3D space. Imagine the precise control of a computer mouse, but in thin air. Just by moving the controller, you can shift your view in the game. Nintendo also announced a second add on to the controller called the Nunchuck. This features an analog stick as well as another trigger button. The controller is also wireless and you can identify which controller you have by looking at the display at the bottom. It shares a striking similarity to the Xbox 360 controllers circular controller lights. You can also power the system on and off using the controllers power button.

I'm not reading this shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14607030)

Maybe if OUR CHILDREN weren't playing video games ALL DAY LONG we wouldn't be getting offshored left and right to hard working brown people who don't play video games.

Instead they work-work-work and develop skills while OUR CHILDREN will be scabbing along at $7 an hour at walmart for the rest of their lives while americas's brain trust falls to shit.

Re:I'm not reading this shit. (0, Offtopic)

Freexe (717562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607090)

I was having alittle chat with a friend (or i read it on-line) about there not being any motivation for people to work hard anymore. That a generation of lazy people are sponging and making babies. The harder you work the less time you have, and the less likely you are to have kids.

It means that we are going to have more kids who think it's good OK to sponge, and less kids who want to work hard do something good with their lives.

Comparing it to china where the harder you work the more likely you are to get a good job and afford to buy your family out of the single child poverty.

Re:/.'d already (1)

kyouteki (835576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607716)

Our corporate firewall doesn't allow Coral Cache'd links (probably the irregular port).

Re:/.'d already (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607917)

whats the point of bitching about coral cache, except to be an elitist slashbot? Half the people reading this are at work and can't hit 8090 anyway.

Evolution?? (1)

poeidon1 (767457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606914)

I cannot really say that its eveolution, to me its probably just a hotch potch, with the same atari controller with more buttons on the same controller.

sure it's dupe-a-licious (2, Informative)

B00yah (213676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606915)

but I missed the first one. This actually reminded me of my genesis six-button controller, which was one of my favorite pads before analog got big. The only issue I had with it was the edges on the d-pad would irritate the callouses that my thumbs had formed from the nes pad (overall winner in my book). I'm hoping that when they start coming out with revolution controller add-ons (to do fighters, etc), it's similar to either the genesis pad, or the Dreamcast controller...the grip just seemed right on that.

Megadrive/Genesis is best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14607023)

Plus you could do the diagonals properly, in comparison with the cross shaped nintendo controllers.

I used them on my Amiga as well! (B button is fire)

PS: the offical 6 button controller is actually much lighter than the 3 button standard controllers.

Colecovision (1)

Baby Duck (176251) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606923)

The Intellivision controller was this stupid little disk. Why are you crying over its exclusion, ffs?! Now Colecovision's Super Action Controllers [geocities.com] were wonders to behold!

Re:Colecovision (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607282)

The Intellivision controller was this stupid little disk. Why are you crying over its exclusion, ffs?!

Because it was the predecessor to the Nintendo DPad? If you think about it, it was pretty much the same thing. The primary differences were:

1) It was a 12 direction controller rather than an 8-way. (Video game companies had this stupid idea that More Features == Better, and damn the consequences.)

2) The use of a disk rather than a four way overlay meant that you couldn't visually tell which direction you were pressing.

The Intellivision disk made a comeback with the Genesis controller. Rather than the standard DPad, the Genesis controller used an 8-way disk with a raised DPad on top. The result was that you got both the visual cues of a regular DPad, plus the smooth control of a disk. (Raise your hand if your thumb hurt after a long Nintendo session!)

Re:Colecovision (1)

robgamble (925419) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607824)

So true!!! I almost suffered permanent nerve damage to my thumb tip using those stupid round disc controllers. One hour of Sea Battle and I could barely feel my thumb!

I miss my intellivision (1)

Xaoswolf (524554) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606929)

I don't have a cable to connect it to my TV anymore...

I have the PS2 port of some games, but it just isn't the same

Re:I miss my intellivision (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607040)

It outputs RF, so you just need an RF to composite video adapter (available in Radio Shack, Target, Wal-mart, Gamestop, etc.) or (if you don't mind hooking it up to the antenna inputs) one of the old-school TV/Game switches, which is still sold at Radio Shack.

Re:I miss my intellivision (1)

Ken Hall (40554) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607211)

I still have mine, hidden away in a padded case in a closet. Far as I know, it still works, and I still have most of the games.

When Intellivision first came out, I worked for the company that repaired them. (We also repaired the Colecovision.) Those controllers were a NIGHTMARE, always failing, although mine behaved perfectly.

the best controller in my opinion (4, Insightful)

beta-guy (715984) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606947)

I've played lots of gaming platforms and I have to say that, I perfer the original Nintendo controller it was very simple to use, almost an extension of my body while I as playing very little thought had to be done reguarding what buttons to push, also it had alot of control. nowadays you have 1 joy stick that control the camera view and another that control the direction your character is heading, then you have and about 8 - 12 more button for more control but you have to consentrate more on what button you pushing... a big differant from the day is arrow keys, start select, and those great A and B buttons

Re:the best controller in my opinion (1)

angrist (787928) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607194)

The learning curve is just a little bit steeper.

I grew up on the NES, and due to an incredible cheapness on my parents' parts, my brothers and I played NES until the time of the N64. It was a great system, and a great controller yes. The controller was very easy to use (impossible to break,I have holes in my wall to prove it), and once you develope the right hand sideways grip, a natural extension of the body.

But newer systems (with decently designed games) can have the same feel on natural extension. I play a lot of Halo2 on the xBox, after a couple of hours control becomes very narural, and after a couple of days the control becomes totally unconscious. I no longer have to think about buttons, I just think the actions (which can be a real pain when explaining to someone how to play).

Good game design, and a little bit of play time, and current consoles can be just as easy to use. (But don't get me started on that abortion of a control scheme in the Gamecube MegaMan Anniversary collection ::glare:: )

Re:the best controller in my opinion (1)

tralfamador (159554) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607230)

but you have to remember that games have changed. yes, in a 2d having one directional pad works fine, but now that every game is 3d you need to be able to change your view independent of the direction you're heading and vice versa. any of the 2d games you can get for modern consoles don't use all the buttons and joysticks.

so i'll agree with you that new controllers suck for old games, and it would be neat to be able to get a stripped down controller for that type of situation, but really controllers have just evolved to what the games currently require. which is a lot of shit.

Re:the best controller in my opinion (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607823)

Are you serious? Man, that thing was painful to use ... not the general layout, but those silly indented arrows on the movemend pad. I think I can still see an arrow shaped callous on my left thumb.

Not just Intellivision... (3, Insightful)

Psykechan (255694) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606958)

There are many systems' controllers missing from that list; no Colecovision, Jaquar, Tubografx 16, or any handheld.

For something that talks about the "evolution" of controllers, they could of at least listed paddles and light guns; two staples of controllers from yesteryear.

This isn't complete by a long shot and it certainly isn't front page worthy.

Re:Not just Intellivision... (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607011)

For something that talks about the "evolution" of controllers, they could of at least listed paddles and light guns; two staples of controllers from yesteryear.

Oh, come off it. The only thing anyone will tell you about light gun games of yesteryear is 'I always wished I could shoot that damn dog.' I've seen some reasonable arcade games using light guns, and I'll grant that I've had good times with a Dreamcast, a copy of House of the Dead and playing both players at once with a light gun in each hand, going all John Woo... but really, light guns were always a gimmick, a toy used for a few oddball games.

Re:Not just Intellivision... (1)

Junks Jerzey (54586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607080)

Oh, come off it.

He's right about paddles though. From arcades, to the Apple II, to the Atari 2600, paddle controllers were a staple. And look at all the classic games tied to paddles--Pong and Breakout for starters--and that paddles served as steering wheels for home driving games (like Night Driver).

Re:Not just Intellivision... (1)

trogdor8667 (817114) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607210)

Not to mention the fact that it leaves off Sony's use of two paddle buttons (R1, R2, L1, L2) which hadn't been done. They also left off the Dreamcast Analog joystick (which was truly horrible). I would also think that the DS's touch-screen would be worth mentioning, since its definately an evolution of the gamepad aspect of gaming, even if the DS is a portable device.

Old consoles lacking, new ones only mainstream (3, Informative)

mendaliv (898932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606961)

This article skips an awful lot of consoles. Where the heck is the Atari Jaguar [wikipedia.org] controller? Or the Atari 7800 [wikipedia.org] for that matter? Colecovision [wikipedia.org] and Intellivision [wikipedia.org] are also MIA, though their controllers don't look all that different from other systems of their era.

We're missing the TurboGrafx 16 [wikipedia.org] , the Neo-Geo [wikipedia.org] , the Sega Master System [wikipedia.org] ... and quite a few others.

Re:Old consoles lacking, new ones only mainstream (1)

Echnin (607099) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607056)

None of the systems you linked had innovative controllers, and can therefore be ignored. Of course, some of the newer consoles that were mentioned (Xbox... Playstation...) don't have innovative controllers either, and could also have been left out.

Re:Old consoles lacking, new ones only mainstream (3, Interesting)

cafard (666342) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607167)

No innovative controller???

The Intellivision controller comes neutral towards the player being left or right handed, as the control disc (which recognizes 16 directions, unlike the later 'crosses' of nintendo) is in the middle of the controller, and the two side buttons are present on both sides. It also comes with a numeric pad on top of the disc, which is designed so that you can insert a game-provided plastic card over it. Hence, games can use up to 12 additional buttons, and provide graphical icons to the player so that he doesn't have to remember which button controls which functionality.

That was back in 1980, and modern console controllers are still far from that...

Re:Old consoles lacking, new ones only mainstream (1)

706GL (172709) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607256)

There is a lot wrong with this article. The original PS controller was innovative in the fact that it was the first to use the oh so comfortable PS controller shape. The innovation in the DualShock2 was the analog buttons, not the analog stick which was the whole point of the DualShock 1. And a lot of less notable favorites were skipped.

Though not really innovative, I liked my 3DO controller a lot, it was the perfect combination of SNES and Genesis controllers. Genesis shape, and ABC buttons, the SNES's shoulder buttons and start/select pair. And some weird features like the daisy chaining and headphone jack with volume control.

Re:Old consoles lacking, new ones only mainstream (2)

cosam (460350) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607301)

This article skips an awful lot of consoles. Where the heck is the Atari Jaguar controller?


The author obviously counldn't find enough information on the Atari Jaguar. I guess both of the owners were unavailable for comment.

Alternative controllers (2, Interesting)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607593)

Also missing from this discussion is any non-stock, third party controller.

Yes, the Atari joystick sucked, and was the same stick also used on several computers (Commodore Vic-20, 64, 128, Amiga, and, of course, all Atari computers) and some other game systems (could be used with ColecoVision, for instance) and was a de facto standard at the time.

That said, you could buy third-party controllers from a number of sources. I liked the SunCom TAC-2 joystick, because it was super-reliable, and it had some swing to it. It also had dual fire buttons, so you could give it to a lefty and they could play pretty well with it.

Then there was the prize of all, the Wico stick. Wico made the josticks found in many arcade consoles, and they used the same design for their game controller, complete with cherry switch buttons. It was mounted in a broad, heavy base, which would sit nicely on a table and give you a pretty realistic feel of an arcade console.

Point is, this analysis is missing a lot.

3 Best Contollers ever...IMHO (2, Informative)

jzarling (600712) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606970)

The original Playstation controller, it fit my hand, and I found it intuitive. I found it so nice I bought a PC version from Gravis

SNES controller - again I liked the fit of the unit.

Re:3 Best Contollers ever...IMHO (1)

THESuperShawn (764971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607075)

3 Best controllers? You only listed 2 you big silly!

Playstation one controller is a thumb shredder. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14607431)

Awful ergonomics for the ps1 controller. After a few hours of play my thumb would be shredded. Not to mention it was too easy to push up and have it register up and slightly left or right (not enough dead zone?).

Best controller I've ever owned NES Advantage. Excellent weight, good size. Perfect for any nes game.

Semi dupe (4, Informative)

Evro (18923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606973)

A nice VG controller "family tree": http://www.axess.com/twilight/console/ [axess.com]

Previous Slashdot blurbs on the subject of controller evolution:

http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/09/ 1559252 [slashdot.org]
http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/09/14/ 068200 [slashdot.org]

Aren't we forgetting (2, Informative)

shoolz (752000) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606974)

The article sure does a time-warp and goes directly from Atari to NES. What about the multiple variations of Colecovision controllers [vidgame.net] and Intellivision controllers [vidgame.net] ?

Atari 5200? (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606978)

The ColecoVision came out the same year, was much more successful, and its controllers were far better than the 5200 imo. The ability to template cards made those 12 buttons a lot less imposing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colecovision [wikipedia.org]

Re:Atari 5200? (1)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607235)

The problem with the CV controllers was that 1) the stumpy stick was hard to use and 2) the side fire buttons were just as un-ergonomic as the 5200 side fire buttons. Except instead of having no give whatsoever, they had springs that required too much force to be comfortable. The switches were somewhat unreliable, too, which was impressive considering that they weren't cheap dome or carbon dot switches. But the CV keypads were really quite nice.

Re:Atari 5200? (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607366)

I do recall the short stick being all little annoying at times (but comfortable enough once you got used to it). The side buttons on our Adam controllers worked great, though, and the controllers never had a problem, even with my (older) brother throwing tantrums every time he thought the game was unfair or cheating...

In other words, every time he died. Which was frequently.

Commodore 64 joystick... (2, Informative)

THESuperShawn (764971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606983)

Remember the Commodore 64 joystick? It was basically the Atari 2600 joystick but with a triangular "stick". The button was mouted in the center (instead of off to the side) making you reach around further to push it. This thing had carpal tunnel written all over it! My hands would ache after just a few minutes of playing. I think I have permanant scars from that thing- or maybe those are from that other hand/eye coordination building technique I learned a year or two later.... Image available at http://www.geocities.com/big_al_1401/c64joy.jpg [geocities.com]

Re:Commodore 64 joystick... (4, Funny)

edremy (36408) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607127)

I think I have permanant scars from that thing- or maybe those are from that other hand/eye coordination building technique I learned a year or two later.... Image available at http://www.geocities.com/big_al_1401/c64joy.jpg [geocities.com]

I don't know about anyone else, but there's no way I'm clicking on that link

Re:Commodore 64 joystick... (1)

CelticWhisper (601755) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607208)

It's alright. I clicked it and it really is a picture of the C64 joystick. Doesn't change the fact that it's ugly as hell, as well as being a pain to use (I had all but forgotten that thing), but it's not pr0n.

Re:Commodore 64 joystick... (2, Funny)

THESuperShawn (764971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608016)

oops..I guess I worded that a litle weird. The link is juat a Commodore joystick picture I googled...it's not me googling my joystick.

Re:Commodore 64 joystick... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607928)

If I recall correctly, The C64 used the same kind of joystick port as the 2600. So you could actually use Atari 2600 style joysticks on a C64.

-Eric

It's just a human interface device (0, Troll)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14606993)

Not a "revolution". A revolution would maybe be a HID you plug into your brain. But as long as controller means "take it into your hand and manipulate it with your fingers", it's still the same old thing.

Keyboard, mouse, joystick, gamepad, whatever. The idea is to make the machine do what I want it to do. How this is accomplished, and which way is "best" is determined by the application, not the input device. The input device is the necessary evil to make the machine do my bidding.

In fact, how is the revolution controller REALLY going to be used? Let's be reasonable here, how many games can you see that will really take advantage (and make good use) of that cool "three dimensional movement" gadget? Can you see yourself aiming your gun this way? Can you see yourself guiding Mario through the levels by waving the controller like Harry Potter flicks his wand?

In fact, it looks a little like an oversized NES stick, and I fear it might be limited to that use.

And I hope and pray that I'm wrong, 'cause ... well, what other console do you want to buy, hmm?

Re:It's just a human interface device (2, Interesting)

Mullinator (939148) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607172)

You obviously know very little about the controller. Perhaps these mock up videos will calm your fears? First one is an example showing how Half-Life 2 could be played with it along with the nun-chuk attachement. Second shows simple little tech demos with a 3d representation of the controller being used, also note the F-Zero demo:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6797958196 289648405&q=nintendo+revolution/ [google.com]
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2063821498 385606325&q=nintendo+revolution/ [google.com]

Re:It's just a human interface device (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607342)

I'm curious whether this will introduce a new gamers malady similar to Nintendo Thumb. Should we just go ahead and name it Revolution Wrist?

-----

Hope you never get an itch while using that thing.

current gamepad: take one hand off controller and hold it with other hand.

Revolution: Put down one half of controller.

It substantially increases the time it takes to take a hand off the controller. And as we all know, that 1.3 seconds is crucial when you want to grab a sip of your soda during a deathmatch.

Re:It's just a human interface device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14607178)

> Can you see yourself aiming your gun this way?

Well actually, yeah. Remember Doom? How hard it was to play an FPS without using a mouse. This will quite possibly make fps's playable on consoles.

> guiding Mario through the levels by waving the controller

I'm sure that you will be able to adjust the sensitivity to your liking, you won't have to "wave" it, but probably most of the time just move it a small amount to get the desired effect. Man, I can really picture myself blowing up some space pirates (http://mdb.classicgaming.gamespy.com/m1/index.htm [gamespy.com] ) with this thing.

Re:It's just a human interface device (1)

(A)*(B)!0_- (888552) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607231)

First of all, the Revolution moniker is just a marketing name. Arguments about whether or not the Revolution actually qualifies as a Revolution are silly.

I expect most of the games created by Nintendo will make use of the unique attributes of the controller. If 3rd party developers want to compete against Nintendo on the Revolution, they'll follow suit.

And as for it being an oversized NES controller - that's just silly. The latest XBox controller has more in common with the NES controller than the Revolution controller does. The NES controller did not detect movement and use that data for movement within the game.

Poorly researched. (3, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607014)

This article could have been slapped together in a day. "The joystick only had eight directions, so in technicality [sic] it wasnt an analog joystick." Yes-- because it was a DIGITAL joystick as the author pointed out earlier! Then he says the 5200 joystick had 360 degrees of motion! So did the 2600, it just output in only eight directions by using four switches. The 5200 joystick may have been a 16-direction model, at best, but it certainly was not a 360. And the NES controller was also 8-way, not 4-way as described in the model or diagonal movement would have been impossible. Overall, the level of writing in this article is childish and chaotic.

Re:Poorly researched. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14607057)

everyone here has already played all the games worth playing for all the systems -1 Redundant >:(

after this it's just a nostalgia circle-jerk.

Fap-Fap-Fap!
Splat-Splat-Splat!

Re:Poorly researched. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14607339)

Thank god someone else noticed how poor TFA is.

"[...]when the joystick stopped working, you couldn't even pause the game."
Pause?!

"With the Atari 5200, the joystick method of input returned."
It left?

[From PS2 dual shock:] "The two analog sticks now also feature touch sensitivity."
Not really... "Essentially it allowed for two new control options for developers while retaining the same amount of buttons."
No, it's really just two new buttons.

Ugh.

Re:Poorly researched. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14607429)

The NES was 4-way, diagonals are two directions pressed at once.

Missing the best part. (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607078)

The most intersting part of the evolution of video game controllers is what they came up with just before and during the 2600 era. Paddles used to be the standard controller design back when all home systems had some derivation of Pong on them. The Fairchild system had a very interesting controller with a directional stick on top and a stick as the base. The Astrocade also had a similar controller layout. The Telstar arcade was also pretty unique with the Steering Wheel, gun, and paddles all on one unit.

Thumbpad vs. Joystick (2, Insightful)

Steve525 (236741) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607091)

I can't say much about the article, do to a slashdotting. I will take this opportunity to spot off on how much I really think thumbpads are a step backwards from the joystick. I pretty much stop playing console games once the Nintendo became king, because I found the gamepad so frustratingly hard to control. You might think is was lack of experience. However, once computer games came along, I picked up controlling with a keyboard (or the keyboard mouse combination) just fine.

Of course this is just one person's view, and commercial success has proved me wrong. I'm sure many people like the thumbpad controllers better, but I'm not one of them (and I'm not sure I understand why). I will point out that thumbpad controllers do have some pratical advantages. They are certainly cheaper and more compact.

It's like the Seventies and Eighties didn't happen (4, Informative)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607117)

[As an aside...] My retro tech book includes chapter on vintage videogaming from the 1970s and 1980s. You can download the chapter free from here: http://tinyurl.com/8bqdy/ [tinyurl.com] [retrothing.com]

The list should start with Ralph Baer's dual-knob analog design for the original Magnavox Odyssey (one for controlling the paddle, one for the ball's English). It'd be fun to include Atari Pong and a Coleco Telstar unit, too. Anyone remember the triangular Telstar Arcade with the steering wheel, light gun, and paddles? Now that was cool.

Other nifty stuff from the Seventies... the slightly odd Magnavox 2 and Fairchild Channel F. And from the Eighties, what about the famed Tac 2 controller that accompanied so many Commodore 64s? Or the Intellivision/Colecovision/Vectrex. Almost like the list was written by a teenager who doesn't know how to Google.

N64 was/is the best (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607131)

Sure, the left prong was useless, but the asymmetry of holding the middle and right ones actually felt a lot more comfortable than a normal controller. I was sad to see only two prongs on every controller since.

Re:N64 was/is the best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14607852)

I've never thought about that but I think you're right. The first time I held one I remember it feeling way cooler than anything else because of that. On later systems I got readjusted and forgot. I don't think you could duplicate that now though. It was a one time deal.

A Little Weak (1)

dxtx (620830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607136)

I know I'm not supposed to say anything if I have nothing nice to say ... ... but man, that list is weak. I could have thrown that together in an hour from memory and google image search. Paddles and light guns are painfully missing. What about Nintendo's Power Glove and UForce controllers? Nintendo's Power Pad and how it evolved into DDR dance surfaces? I'm not even getting into the platforms it missed - Sega Master System, TurboGrafx/PCE, ColecoVision, Intellivision, NeoGeo home arcade sticks. They show the 6 button Genesis pad but not the original 3 button one that shipped with the system at launch? It boggles my mind. I won't even get started on the actual copy. I'm fairly certain that I'm missing some big swathes of history myself, right now. A little harsh I know, but if I had to write a paper on the history of game controllers for a school paper when I was twelve, that would have been what I wrote on the school bus the morning of the day it was due, after a night of not writing it because I was playing Temple of Apshai Trilogy waaaay past my bedtime. (ignore glaring temporal issues)

They were wrong about the Dual Shock 1 & 2. (2, Informative)

Caspian (99221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607183)

The article made it sound like the Dual Shock 2 was when they first standardized on having the 'rumble'/vibration feature. This is untrue. The original Dual Shock was that (hence the name-- it had two different vibrating motors. (Commence jokes here.))

Also, the "you can push down on the sticks for another two buttons" feature, I believe, first appeared in Dual Shock 1, not 2.

Furthermore, they left out the fact that on the Dual Shock 2, the four buttons (triangle, square, circle, X) are velocity/pressure-sensitive. In other words, games can (if they are programmed to do so) tell how hard you pushed the buttons. This feature isn't used in too many games, but oddly, my copy of Kingdom Hearts seems to NOT BOOT without a Dual Shock 2 (a Dual Shock 1 will not do), and I believe some games in the "fighting" genre use the velocity sensitivity...

Re:They were wrong about the Dual Shock 1 & 2. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14607504)

When a game loads, the code can query the controller for its capabilities. For instance, a DDR pad will report that it has no analog sticks, no vibration etc. An original PS1 controller will report the lack of analog sticks. A DualShock 2 (DualShock is one word, btw) will report pressure sensitivity.

I'm not sure what you mean by "velocity sensitive." The console could probably extract some sort of information regarding "velocity" by taking the derivative of the pressure values, but the controller only reports pressure values to the console.

Re:They were wrong about the Dual Shock 1 & 2. (1)

Aero (98829) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607931)

Metal Gear Solid 3 uses the "analog" function of the pushbuttons for CQC. The problem is that to do anything interesting, you need to tap the circle button and hold it down to grab the enemy...but mash it too hard, and instead of grabbing the enemy, you slit his throat straight away. I still have trouble with the distinction, which is why I just tranq the bad guys and get it over with...

Playstation 2 Controller (1)

glassjaw rocks (793596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607184)

They missed a major point about the PS2 controller: the fact that it had analog sensitivity on every button. That's how Gran Turismo 3 tells you how hard you're pressing the gas or brake. Also I'm not positive but I'm pretty sure the original Dual Analog controller featured L3 and R3 buttons (by pushing down on the analog sticks).

Re:Playstation 2 Controller (1)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607709)

Not every button has analog sensitivity.

L3, R3, Start, Select, and Analog are digital-only. The controller doesn't report the state of the Analog button, though; it's used to force the internal circuit to change state, which will cause the PS2 to query it for why it changed.

Re:Playstation 2 Controller (1)

glassjaw rocks (793596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608022)

Um... The Analog sticks are analog. That's why they're called "Analog sticks".

Article is wrong (1)

Tebriel (192168) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607188)

Turbo-button controllers came out WAY before the SNES. I specifically remember the NES Max and the NES Advantage, and there were probably ones before that too.

Re:Article is wrong (1)

saboola (655522) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607387)

I do remember that the TurboGrafx-16/PC-Engine had turbo controllers out of the box. They were very similiar in layout to the NES controllers, but slightly better sized for larger hands. They had three different turbo settings (which came in really handy in any Bonk game). I loved that controller.

Heh, Such a Bias (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607196)

First off, I do think Nintendo HAS historically been at the forefront of meainstreaming new controller design, from D-pads to Shoulder buttons to crosspad-aranged regular buttons to analog sticks and analog triggers.

But the bias here is funny, Atari gets bashed for not being "really analog" (duh) in the first generation and only having 8 directions, but Nintendo gets praised for bringing, which while probably an improvement in comfort and some responsiveness, really has about 4 directions, not even 8...

Article is almost completely garbage (4, Informative)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607236)

I only read through the 8-bit NES controller before I gave up.

The Atari 2600 joysticks were actually damn good joysticks. There were plenty of knockoff and lookalike joysticks in the aftermarket that sucked, but the actual Atari-manufactured joysticks were of superb quality. They were durable and lasted through years and years of heavy use and abuse. The reviewer probably took some 30 year old worn out third-party sticks and tried them out for 10 minutes before determining that they were inferior.

The NES cross pad was hardly looked at as an improvement at the time. Gamers accepted it because it worked well enough, and it did grant a master very fine control over his game character, but it was less comfortable for long playing than holding a joystick. It was cheaper to manufacture, and due to the lesser stresses involved in the design (the joystick is a lever which magnifies the force applied to the sensors the longer the stick is) and it was smaller and lighter and could be manufactured more cheaply.

The article confuses "analog" and "digital", claiming that the Atari 2600 joystick was not "analog" "because it only had 8 directions". Analog has nothing to do with how many directions, and everything to do with whether you have discrete states or a continuum of potential states in the joystick's range. On a digital stick, you're either applying force in a direction or you're not. On an analog stick, the degree to which your stick is pushed toward the extreme end of the stick's range of motion determines just how "hard" or "fast" you're pushing in that direction.

Modern analog sticks are horrible compared to true joysticks of days gone by. Give me something I can wrap my entire hand around, not some wimpy little "hat" stick controller that I have to diddle with my thumb. The current generation consoles largely suck to play in their standard configuration because they don't give the user a flightstick type control, and the button layouts on flightstick type controls are not well laid out for most types of games outside of flight simulation.

Re:Article is almost completely garbage (1)

Gargish Dragon (949112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607900)

I loved my 2600 controllers. They lasted through the Commodore C64 era (Decathlon abuse) and then the Amiga era before PC-DOS gaming with mice made joysticks somewhat obsolete. They were perfect to hold in my big hand.

The design was simple but completely adequate to control 2d scrolling games. New controllers need to let you navigate through 3d space and it is more a matter of game design how existing controller features are used than the actual design of the controller.

The article is superficial and I missed mentioning of games which benefited from the new controller designs.

Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14607295)

Yes, the Intellivision controller was tragic, indeed. Every catalog I saw selling Intellivisions also sold little snap-on sticks that converted the disc to a joystick. People swore by the things.

Now, if you want to see an ergonomic controller from the 80s, you want the Epyx 500XJ [cedmagic.com] controller, which was Atari 2600 and Commodore 64 compatible. That thing was comfortable to use and lasted forever.

It looks funny, but it works by putting the button under your left index finger, giving your ring and pinky fingers a case-cutout to rest in (so the thing didn't pop out like a bar of soap when your hand got sweaty from holding it in a deathgrip for hours), and there were grooves in the case for each finger.

The stick itself had a steel rod in it that was balanced on a ball bearing on the bottom of the controller, so it had only about 3/4 inch of throw at the top; it was like the Mazda Miata shifter, before there was a Mazda Miata. The switches were Cherry switches, which made a clicking noise when activated. You could also feel the switches activating. No more wondering if you were really doing a diagonal or not. It was the joystick equivalent of a buckling-spring Dvorak keyboard.

And did I mention that it was built tough? ABS plastic, 1/8 inch thick, with plenty of reinforcing ribs. Between that and the steel joystick, you had a controller that, if thrown at the wall, would easily defeat drywall.

I miss that thing.

The whole review is garbage (0)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607317)

The author of this review/article/whatever puts in a LOT of unfounded, incorrect, or just plain stupid claims about each controller.

The article is hack and I'm embarrassed that it's on the front page of Slashdot. I can see it being on Digg, since Digg is just a bunch of blog crap all the time.. but come on.

Rumble (1)

scolby (838499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607440)

I do not think that the rumble feature deserves to be listed with the analog stick and shoulder buttons as an important advance in controller design. How does a shaking controller enhance the gaming experience? Until they make a controller that vibrates strongly enough to shake itself out of my hands, thus increasing the skill needed to play a game, I will continue to turn it off.

Missing key controllers..... (1)

I-am-a-Banana (940550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607528)

Like the Intellivision. It was a controller that you either hated, or you loved. No matter your view you need to admit that many controllers today owe a lot to it. Look at the XBox controller, it either has a direction thumb pad or mini stick for directional control with your left thumb. Looking at the three major game systems way back in the day, Atari, Coleco and Intellivision, the Intellivision was the only one that was not a joy stick. It was a disc that was used the same way as modern thumb pads. The numerous buttons allowed for more interactive and intimate game play. Using the thumb pad for moving and the key pad for shooting enabled gamers to move in one direction, yet shoot in a completly different direction. The interchangable sleeves also allowed the game pad to be customized for looks and ease of finding buttons. You don't need to remember buttun 6 is for selecting X, because there was a picture of that item right on the controller. This is a predecessor for all those "configurable" gaming keyboards for games like Doom, Quake etc. And as for Wireless, Intellivision 3 which was never released was designed to have up to four wireless controllers.

Turbografx-16/PCE (2, Interesting)

TheZorch (925979) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607776)

The TG-16/PCE is such an underrated game system. I personally believe it was released too late to make a difference in the market. The system dethroned the Famicom (Japanese NES) from its top spot in Japan with its improved graphics, sound and CD-ROM capabilties. It was the first console that did anti-aliasing.

The controller wasn't revolutionary in the least. It was a two button NES/Famicom look-a-like with a D-Pad, but it was the first controller bundled with a console to have dual turbo-fire selectors. This isn't a major advance, I believe the most significent advancement in game controller design is analog joysticks, as well as button velocity sensors, button presseure sensors, and motion sensors (I've heard the Dual Shock 2 has this feature, and the Revolution's controller will definitely have it). The other major innovation is reliable RF style (non-IR) wireless controllers. Logitech's PS2 wireless controller isn't IR like other wireless game controllers. It works via an RF frequency so if somebody moves in front of the console you don't loose control of the game and you have a longer range than IR permits. The 40 hour battery life is significent also because RF wireless devices, especially wireless mice, have a notoriously short battery life.

Reducing the number of cords and cables used to clutter your living room up is a major plus for the next-gen systems, in my honest opinion.

Another US-centric game history article (1)

FromWithin (627720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607821)

Terrible article. It says about the Playstation pad:
"Nothing was truly different with the controller from its predecessors" when in fact the playstation pad was a revolution in pad design. There was a definite "what the hell is that?" in your mind when you first saw it and the chunky palm grips have been copied by pretty much all other pads since.

Anyway,from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, the C64, Amiga, and other home computers were the breeding ground of controller design. Consoles came with pads because they were cheap to manufacture, not because they were any good. Joysticks from the 8/16-bit era came in all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes. The Konix Speedking has been mentioned (as the Epyx), but there were many more: The Bug, Quickshot II, and The Boss are just three other notable designs.

Have a look at Syntax Error's Joystick and Controller archive [syntaxerror.nu] for a much better overview of controllers through history.

Re:Another US-centric game history article (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608054)

What, no trackball [atari2600.com] ?!!! You lamer. How am I supposed to play Centipede?!!!

Inexplicably is better word (1)

us7892 (655683) | more than 8 years ago | (#14607999)

Tragically the Intellivision controller is missing.

How about "inexplicably"? That is a better choice of words.

A much better controller family tree (1)

extrarice (212683) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608001)

A much better examination of the evoltuion of the controller is Sock Master's Video Game Controller Family Tree (http://www.axess.com/twilight/console/ [axess.com] ). Instead of just hilighting the heavyweights like the story article does (what, no Master System controllers? What about the original Genesis controller?), Sock Master's chart is more diverse, showing who borrowed what from who.
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