Author Topic: Best/Worst Controllers  (Read 6785 times)


  • Paid by the word
« on: September 06, 2011, 09:34:18 AM »
We've had threads like this for things like which control scheme is best for Brawl, but we've never really had a discussion of which controller in all of gaming is the best or the worst.

Obviously there's going to be specialization going on for some genres - keyboard and mouse being tops for first-person shooters, for example, or many rhythm games using their own special controller - and we can sort of ignore that stuff. I also don't really want to go into which third-party controllers are decent or not, because then this thread would be filled with "MadCatz controllers suck" by people who are still stuck in a last-gen mindset. I just want to talk first-party controllers (and default control schemes on handhelds) and how they stack up.

Basically, this idea came up when I realized I was better at the PSP version of Pac-Man Championship Edition than the 360 original. Because the PSP D-pad is better than the 360 D-pad. And that's terrible.


  • Beside Pacific
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2011, 10:40:41 AM »
It's difficult to trust MadCatz after not just one gen, but a lifetime, of sucky controllers. The fact that I have a MadCatz product that was formerly a 360 controller but currently a piece of [dukar] does not help.

Though, Jim's fightsticks are all right. Once we get the console to recognize them, at least. And once we get it to un-recognize it when it's a controller player's turn

I prefer a 360 controller to mice for FPSes. I get why no one else does. But I do.


I don't really like the Sony consoles' controllers. At all. DualShock 2 or 3. 3 is just too light--I like rechargeable batteries but man, use heavier ones. I mean, the SNES controller is light and that's no problem, but DualShock 3 is like WHERE IS THE CONTROLLER IS IT MADE OF STYROFOAM WILL IT BREAK IF I TRY TO SHOOT OH NO

2, I just don't really like the sticks or triggers.

I don't really like the DS Lite either. I can't figure whether I should gently press my palms against the sides or relax my hands and have some inches of air between it and me. For the former, that's weird. For the latter, I don't feel like I have complete control over the shoulder buttons. I KNOW I do but I don't FEEL like I could immediately use them if I had to

That Gears 3 controller LD mentioned some time ago that made him poop a little sounds sexy, I should get one a those. My 360 controller is going south. All Frank wants to do in DR1 is that [darn] dodge roll.

I wish Nintendo would do a new GameCube controller. A wireless one with good rumble, possibly rechargeable. They could paint it white and advertise it as a Wii controller that "Works for Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart, all Virtual Console titles, all GameCube games and much much more." Sell it cheap and it'd probably be a hit, I'd get two of 'em
All your dreeeeeeams begiiin to shatterrrrrr~
It's YOUR problem!


« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2011, 01:10:04 PM »
Mouse and Keyboard:

360 Controller (Game Cube close runner-up?):
Everything elsing

ADDENDUM: PS2 controller for Katamari Damacy games.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2011, 01:12:53 PM by TEM »

« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2011, 02:55:46 PM »
The Lego Wiimote. I don't own it, but it seems like it would be hard to play Wii with it with the studs digging into your hands. It appears to come with a few pieces, but the price is as much as a Wiimote plus. ($40)


  • Tortuga
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2011, 03:01:01 PM »
Don't know what BP is on about, I love the DualShock.  GameCube controller was cool, but it had this really horrible tiny little D-Pad that couldn't actually be used for anything except taunting in SSB.
"It'll say life is sacred and so is death
but death is life and so we move on"

« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2011, 04:02:47 PM »
...couldn't actually be used for anything except taunting in SSB.

That's all it should be used for, except for navigating menus when you can..

Hmm... N64 games are mostly awesome, but I hated the controller for it. I would get blisters from even playing short periods of time. Of course I was also younger and literally pressed down on sticks/buttons too hard..
Kinopio is the ultimate video game character! Who else can drive a kart, host parties, play tennis, give good advice and items, and is almost always happy??

« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2011, 04:58:12 PM »
Dualshock 2 was neat, I like the use of analog on face buttons.  The symmetry is something I like, but not something I count against other controllers.  The 360 feels good in my hands, a good size, the shoulder buttons and triggers I think are better than the PS3's.  Wii remote is okay, but quite nice with the grip covers.  Original Saturn controller is quite good in it's simplicity and straightforward.  It still has a reputation as a fantastic pad for fighting games. The arcade stick for the NES was rather good, heavy duty, solid, and fairly responsive.  The SNES one on the other hand....

Jaguar's was an unwieldy beast. I don't care much for the SNES controller, they just feel flimsy to me, same with the original Playstation controller.  I can understand the issues with the N64 controller, but I never had any problem.  I had more issues with the X-Box S than the original, but neither are great.  Dreamcast was fine in regard to size, but felt like one too many high-tension rounds of ChuChu Rocket would snap it in half.  The NES is quite the opposite, being really solid feeling, but especially now that I'm older it is ergonomic as a brick.

And, finally, does anybody have any experience with those hybrid mouse/controllers for either the 360 or PS3?  I love mice, but no enjoyment for keyboards, and wonder what the opinion is on them, because if they suck, $80 is a bit of a steep investment that is even more niche than a fightstick.
"We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special." Stephen Hawking

« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2011, 05:29:36 PM »
I suddenly remember. The SEGA Dreamcast. The controller is easy to hold, but the buttons are awkward.


  • Paid by the word
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2011, 06:04:56 PM »
The Dreamcast controller has the second-worst D-pad I've ever used (I used to think it was worse than the 360 D-pad, until I used the 360 D-pad more extensively).

I'm buying a friend's Saturn, so I'll get back to you on that once I've played some shmups and fighters on there.

As far as using controller instead of KBAM for FPS: I bought the 360 version of The Orange Box and played through Portal using a controller. Any problems that came up with that playthrough were from me making mistakes from not having played the game in a while, not from the control scheme. (I imagine it'd be a different story if I played Half-Life 2...)

As far as using controller instead of KBAM for RTS: Brütal Legend. But I guess that's an unfair example because it's a rather different sort of RTS. I want to be able to say Halo Wars here because I've heard the controller interface in that was excellent, but I haven't bought it yet.


  • Max Stats
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2011, 06:10:05 PM »
I've played Halo Wars a few times. While the the controller interface was in fact good, the limited movement speed and inability to directly view any other part of the map was a real problem for me.

The best controller I've ever used is a tie between the Gamecube controller and the Xbox 360 controller. Both fit nicely into my hands and have good button arrangement.

I can't remember the worst controller I ever used.
The Mario series is the best! It has every genre in video games but RTS'! It also has a plumber who does different roles, a princess, and a lot of odd creatures who don't seem to poop!


  • i can make this whatever i want; you're not my dad
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2011, 10:27:25 PM »
The GCN and 360 controllers are tied for most comfortable overall controller ever and for suckiest D-pad ever. Odd, that. GCN controller could use a better Z button (and another one) and clicky sticks, though.

The Classic Controller has probably the best D-pad ever, but the sticks are way too close together (haven't had a chance to try the Pro yet) and the face buttons feel a little off somehow. I'd rather have them be the round little candies of the 360 controller or the paired-up concave/convex of the SNES controller.

The LEGO Wiimote feels fine, it just has a habit of turning off when I have a Classic Controller plugged into it.

The Sonic Screwdriver Wiimote is nicer than I was expecting. No good for NES-style games, but quite comfortable for everything else. B-button is a bit finicky, though.

The original Game Boy Advance was the most comfortable to hold (and the last ergonomically shaped thing Nintendo ever made), but the positioning of the Start and Select buttons was no good. I always played Mario Tennis Color on there, and not being able to get to the Select button in time to cancel an errant charge shot screwed me over a lot. I don't remember how the D-pad was on there, because mine broke from playing too much Sonic Advance 2 (and being stupid about it). The Micro is very good, though. Actually, now that I think of it, the Micro has the best D-pad ever. L and R take a little getting used to at first, and then they're fine.

The sides of the DS Phat would always cut into my hand. Not like cut cut, but you know. Edges were way too jutting for no good reason.
"Oh man, I wish being a part of a Mario fan community was the most embarrassing thing about my life." - Super-Jesse

« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2011, 11:24:27 PM »
What's with all the Cube D-pad hate? I love that little thing. I managed to beat Zelda 2 for the first time on it. The small size minimizes distance you need to travel between directions and increases efficiency. It's the best D-pad, not the worst. The Classic Controller D-pad is a gargantuan sloth of a pad, where your thumb has to travel three miles to go from left to right. Since a digital pad doesn't need a range of movement like a stick, the smaller the better.

I'm not a fan of the squishiness of the 360 and PS3 face buttons. My all-time favorite buttons were the original GBA's. They had the perfect resistance and pop.

The stick award goes to (obviously) 360, since Microsoft is seemingly the only company that realizes stick heads should be concave, not convex. Your thumb is supposed to stay on the stick, not slide off like rainfall upon a tortoise's back.


  • Max Stats
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2011, 12:47:51 AM »
GCN controller could use a better Z button (and another one) and clicky sticks, though.

I always liked the Z button on the Gamecube controller; I never found it annoying to press. While I don't find a need for another one, I do agree that another one could've improved the controller.
The Mario series is the best! It has every genre in video games but RTS'! It also has a plumber who does different roles, a princess, and a lot of odd creatures who don't seem to poop!


  • Paid by the word
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2011, 02:20:13 AM »
As far as what LD is saying, I definitely agree about the GameCube D-pad. Coincidentally, the original GBA's D-pad is the same part.

For comparison's sake, I decided to get a picture of a bunch of controllers and handhelds I had lying around (including a few non-standard ones, which I'll go into for novelty's sake).

In chronological order:

-NES controller. Rectangular. Not very comfortable to hold. Certainly works, though, and incredibly durable.

-Not pictured, but still worth mention: NES joysticks. The one I have, a Honyü Explorer-I, has concave buttons, a big plus. It also features a "slow" toggle, which simply acts as a rapid-fire Start button while on, and turbo settings, including separate rapid-fire buttons and adjustable fire rate. Both are common on third-party NES controllers; the slow button didn't take off, probably because of how dumb it was, but turbo did, and is still present in controllers today.

I use the stick for playing stuff like Star Soldier, and it works rather well. I also used it when I marathoned platformers a few months back in an attempt to compare Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World. (The better game is neither of them.)

-SNES controller. A bit more comfortable to hold. Has shoulder buttons. The two concave face buttons are useful for differentiating between the buttons under your fingers when playing games like Street Fighter II. Also very durable.

-NES2 dogbone controller. I like the NES2, aside from the fact that it only has RF out. The controller is very nice, designed (as the system itself was) to resemble the SNES equivalent. Not much to say about this, aside from that it's far more comfortable to hold than the standard NES controller.

-SNES Super Advantage. This thing needs to die in a fire. Flat buttons in a horrendous layout, and they're prone to sticking. Way too much decorative stuff going on, as well. It also has that dumb slow toggle, including adjustable slow rate (???), and it's designed such that it's in your way and very easy to accidentally press. On the upside, it does feature both full-auto and turbo switches for all six buttons, plus adjustable fire rate.

This controller desperately wants to be used for Street Fighter II, but its design is so terrible that the only way to really do so involves reconfiguring the controls in-game, which is a bad sign.

-Original PlayStation controller. No analog sticks. Side grips. Four shoulder buttons. Standard Sony face button design. The first iteration of the painful Sony D-pad. Durable. Rather small.

These controllers are good for shmups and four-button fighters.

-Not pictured: a really old EA Sports PlayStation controller I have. It's another pre-analog design, but the casing is rubberized, it has a 360° D-pad (it's nice not having those painful slices in the middle), and the shoulder buttons are a bit different as well. Mostly the same as the standard PlayStation controller; this is the one I normally use for things like Melty Blood and Mushihime-sama.

-N64 controller. You all know about this - in fact, I wager most people here would have a stronger opinion of this controller than I do, because I never played the N64 as much as some of the other systems I'm talking about here. My opinion: weird button layout, weird handles, crappy easy-to-break analog stick.

-Also not pictured: the original Dual Shock. It looks very much like the Dual Shock 2 that's sitting there, but they're not quite the same. I'll get to that in a bit.

-Dreamcast controller. Hoo boy...terrible D-pad, terrible analog stick, and more often than not the VMU ended up being little more than a gimmicky memory card. I also never get used to the button layout, especially the shoulder buttons. The controller cord coming out of the bottom rather than the top is something I'm glad didn't catch on. The Dreamcast controller has one neat thing going for it, though: there are little raised dots on each face button, corresponding to which direction that button lies in.

It's a good thing for the Dreamcast's sake that there are a lot of really good games on the platform, because this controller is almost bad enough to turn me away from it immediately. (Coincidentally, the original Xbox controller was largely based on the Dreamcast controller, right down to having memory card slots in the controller itself...)

-Dual Shock 2. I bet everyone here has used one of these at some point or another. Like the original Dual Shock, it features built-in force feedback. Has analog sticks, which click inward as the L3 and R3 buttons. Also has analog face buttons, which the original Dual Shock lacked. The controller in the picture happens to be missing the plastic cap for the R2 button (I think my dad found this controller at a garage sale), but it's still very usable..

As LD pointed out, the analog sticks on these things are terrible to actually try to keep your thumb on. They also have a rather long throw (movement radius), which makes them especially terrible for things like fighting games and shmups. DS2s are probably best suited to games like JRPGs, which don't usually require much in the way of precision. However, I will comment that these controllers are insanely good for twin-stick shooters like Robotron 2084 and Geometry Wars.

-beatmania IIDX Konami Official Controller. Only works with one US-release game! The controller is also very stiff at first, but it's easy to disassemble for things like removing the turntable's spring and placing shims underneath each key. Also, it's not visible in this picture, but you can slide out the key panel to change the layout for left-handed or right-side play. (There's also a little port on the side that resembles a phone jack; it's a holdover from the Japanese version of the same controller. It's so you could plug in a foot pedal for beatmania III, but they never made a home version of anything from that subseries.)

One of the numerous "you'll use this controller for one game and nothing else" controllers that have come out over the years. They're more prominent with rhythm games, of course, which is why I have several dance mats, multiple guitar controllers, a Taiko no Tatsujin drum, and two DJ Hero turntables in my room (more on the DJ Hero stuff later).

-Game Boy Advance, original model. I agree with CrossEyed and LD here; it's a very nice design. A shame about the lack of a backlight, though. Not really much more to say.

-GameCube controller. As stated before, I agree with LD about the excellence of the D-pad; the analog stick is also decent (it's rubber rather than the N64's plastic, but it also kept the ridging, making it better than a Sony analog stick). The layout of the face buttons can be a bit odd to get used to, but I like them. I'm not a fan of the shoulder buttons, though, and I honestly never got much use out of the C stick. Also, these controllers are incredibly durable.

Then we have a timeskip for a bit (I don't have much of an opinion on the Xbox controller aside from how much of its design was taken from the Dreamcast controller), and then we get to...

-Xbox 360 controller. The reason I'm listing this before either of the two handhelds that technically predate it is because the 360 controller hasn't changed much since its launch in 2005, whereas I have the second revisions of both handhelds, and those both came out after the Xbox 360 did. Anyway, 360 controller...well, I'm sort of new to it, but aside from the D-pad (which easily takes the title of Worst D-Pad in All of Gaming), I really like it. I need to get used to the shoulder buttons, though, and I accidentally hit the guide button from time to time when I mean to hit Start or Back.

-Wii Remote. The only controller I had to remove from a rubber casing. I can't say much about the motion control (don't play a lot of games that use it), and I can't say a lot about the Nunchuk or Classic Controller (don't play a lot of games that use the former, don't own the latter). Most of what I play on the Wii either has you holding the remote like a standard controller...or is insanely better with a GameCube controller. I'm a bit biased due to what I play, though.

-DS Lite. Slimmed down from the original clunky model. Features six buttons and a touchscreen, for lots of interesting control combinations. The system isn't very durable, particularly with the hinge and the shoulder buttons (I bet BP can vouch for this one). Aside from that, it's good.

-PSP-2000. Also slimmed down from an older huge version. Like the DS, features six buttons; however, it doesn't have a touchscreen. Instead, it has an analog nub that is the bane of my existence. The analog nub always feels like it's going to snap under your finger, and the etched top does nothing to improve your thumb's grip on it; instead, all it does it rub your skin raw if you have to use it extensively. The buttons work; the D-pad is a standard Sony D-pad, though slightly better than usual for reasons I can't really describe. Not much to say about this, other than AUGH THE ANALOG NUB SUCKS.

-DJ Hero controllers. The base on the left without the turntable part attached is for 360, while the one on the right with both turntables attached is for the PS2 and PS3. Designed so that you can detach the turntable piece and connect it on either side of the base, to accommodate left- or right-handed play. The controller is designed specifically for DJ Hero, of course, and isn't really useful for anything else...but other games are actually exactly why I have the 360 base detached from its turntable part: because the D-pad and face buttons work fine for games like BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, which doesn't require the analog sticks or shoulder buttons. (Basically: I haven't bought more controllers yet.)


  • i can make this whatever i want; you're not my dad
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2011, 02:37:15 AM »
I've just always had a hard time pushing the right direction on the GCN's D-pad because of its position, size, lack of depth, and recessedness. The Micro's D-pad is the GCN's done right.

I think the Classic Controller D-pad mostly just reminds me of the SNES.
"Oh man, I wish being a part of a Mario fan community was the most embarrassing thing about my life." - Super-Jesse