The Best Video Game Control Pads

There were many various techniques of enjoying video video games on a console (and every so often PC) over time. Some were higher than others.

How do you work that out? For starters, I feel you wish to have to distance them from the console they have been a part of. The PlayStation’s authentic controller used to be now not as attractive because the console’s advertising and marketing. And simply since the NES is many of us’s place to begin with an entire life of Nintendo fandom doesn’t imply its controller used to be as well-designed as Mario’s bounce.

In assessing those controllers on their very own deserves, then, I’ve taken quite a lot of issues into consideration. Convenience and sturdiness are best of the checklist, however I’ve additionally tested how cutting edge they have been. No longer in gimmicky phrases—the Wii’s movement controls appeared pioneering on the time, however how did that shake out?—however in additional really extensive techniques, like general design patterns that may be copied for generations of consoles to return.

I’ve additionally weighed the ones inventions towards the remainder of the controller’s qualities. The N64, as an example, will eternally be remembered for its advent of a right kind thumbstick, however there’s little else about that pad’s design that made an enduring affect.

In any case, I’ve thought to be the controller’s position in time. No pad from the 80s or 90s goes to match with a DualShock 4 or Xbox controller on the subject of convenience or options, nor be appropriate for the video games we’re enjoying as of late, however that’s now not the purpose: the purpose might be how nicely did a controller replicate the video games and wishes of a participant on the time?

G/O Media would possibly get a fee

Mainly, I feel the most efficient controllers are those that did a bit of little bit of the whole lot I simply discussed, and did all of them rather well. In a position to innovate, undergo years of punishment, be at ease for the participant and do the whole lot the participant had to do within the console’s top.

Right here, then, are the most efficient of them (notice that they’re now not ranked so as):


It’s shoulder bumpers helped introduce the concept now not each button needed to do one thing essential, and spread out new choices for the way in which we interacted with video games that historically best allow us to press “A” or “B”. Its colored buttons regarded nice (particularly at the JP/PAL model, pictured, which copies the colors of the Tremendous Famicom emblem). And its comfortable, rounded corners created a undying glance that used to be so much more straightforward on gamer’s wrists and hands than the NES controller.


If the fashionable console controller had a circle of relatives tree, its roots can be planted firmly underneath Sega’s ultimate house console. From its cumbersome design to its thumbstick at the left, the Dreamcast’s controller laid out—because it did with such a lot of different issues—the principles for Microsoft’s access into the console house, and whilst its VMU gimmick by no means took off in other places, it used to be a amusing and well-used novelty for the Dreamcast.


No longer best used to be the GameCube controller unbreakable, but it surely had two very cool options that have been well-used through a large number of video games at the platform. The primary used to be a “information” across the thumbsticks which allow you to lock them into positive instructions. The second one used to be a strange button structure that in truth made sense the extra you used it, making a GIANT GREEN BUTTON out of the only you used probably the most, and relegating different buttons to smaller sizes (and not more putting colors) the fewer regularly they have been required.

XBOX 360

There’s little in regards to the Xbox 360’s controller that used to be new. Wearing on from the Dreamcast’s lineage via to the S controller at the authentic Xbox, its stick and button structure used to be already very acquainted to avid gamers.

But it surely simply…perfected it. It perfected nearly the whole lot about online game controller design. The Xbox 360 controller used to be so excellent that now not best did it paintings flawlessly for Xbox 360 video games, however its compatibility with the PC did one thing that no different peripheral producer had ever been in a position to do at the platform: herald an technology of controller universality. This consistency allowed console video games to be ported to (and performed correctly on) the PC with at least fuss, a small however essential contributor to the good fortune of Steam (and motion video games basically) at the PC as of late.

Even the Xbox One controller, debuting just about a decade later, is principally the similar deckchairs, rearranged best rather (and a few will argue, like with the bumpers, now not as nicely), and the Xbox Collection X controller is just about an identical once more, which means this unmarried design can have persisted for over two decades by the point the brand new console technology is finished with.


The Neo Geo introduced arcade video games into the lounge. And the Neo Geo’s arcade stick introduced arcade controls with them. Whilst different firms have made a residing catering to hardcore arcade avid gamers with third-party sticks, no first-party stick has ever come with regards to matching the graceful design, really feel and sturdiness of SNK’s legitimate providing.


The DualShock 4 is right here partially as it solved a decades-long design flaw with the road’s design, in any case making a PlayStation pad that’s in point of fact at ease within the fingers, however most commonly as a result of that “SHARE” button, which we don’t want the present of hindsight to grasp is a game-changer.

The sharing of our screenshots and clips isn’t some passing fad, it’s a cornerstone of online game tradition and communities, and Sony’s good move right here has resulted in competitors temporarily adopting the similar function.

A couple of shout-outs right here on the finish to controllers that didn’t relatively make it: the Wavebird (perhaps my non-public fave, despite the fact that its loss of rumble for Animal Crossing fishing used to be a crisis), the Xbox Elite (my “day-to-day driving force” on PC), the Nintendo Transfer’s Professional Controller and…the Wii Faraway. No longer as a motion-sensing software, however as a normal controller (the ones buttons and d-pad have been wonderful).

This submit at the beginning seemed in August 2016. It’s been up to date for December 2020.


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