Over the years, we've seen our control pads change and evolve into many different shapes and sizes. But what is the best control pad of all time? Is there such a thing? CVG takes a look at the contenders...
It lacks analogue sticks, pressure sensitive button and doesn't even have rumble feedback, but the SNES controller was compact and comfortable. Its buttons are nicely spaced out and it's d-pad large and solid. It's only fault was the weak shoulder buttons, which had a tendency to snap off the hinges if you hammered them too much. But if you're a retro freak, this could easily be your pad of choice.
Although it looked like some sort of Klingon starship, the N64 controller was undoubtedly one of the most pioneering controllers in videogame history. You only have to look at its many innovations; the three-pronged design, the Z-trigger, the C-buttons, the analogue stick, the Rumble Pak and the expansion port. But the analogue stick wore badly over time and is wasn't a good pad to play fighting games on. Still, reeks of genius though.
This was one of the first controllers to go for a real chunky, hand-filling feel with double triggers. On one side it went for the basic, four-button lay-out of the SNES, while introducing a small LCD screen to the world of controllers via the VMU memory cards that slotted into the top. It was a great idea, but it never really took off. The pad also had issues with weak triggers that broke easily, and the analogue stick was slippery and uncomfortable. Sorry Sega. Controllers weren't your strong point.
Dual Shock 2
The Dual Shock 2 is still considered by many to be the pinnacle of the PlayStation control pad family. Yes, that includes you too, SixAxis. It takes major influence from the simple yet functional design of the Super NES pad, slaps two analogue sticks in there and attempts innovation with the little-used pressure-sensitive buttons. The d-pad is unique and responsive, and it's a great universal pad that works well with every game type out there. But don't you find those analogue sticks a bit too loose?
Clearly, Nintendo's focus with the GameCube pad was on comfort, convenience and ease-of-use. The differently-shaped buttons were an effort to make them more identifiable to your fingertips, and the C-Stick offered a differing feel to the main stick, and it all sat in the hand nicely. Its other innovation was those analogue, sinking shoulder buttons, that turned out to be quite plastic-ish and were under-used in the long run.
PC Sidewinder FreeStyle Pro
The FreeStyle Pro is the last controller in the SideWinder series before Microsoft went all crazy with the Dual Strike thingy. Interestingly, it could perform sensor tilt motions like the Sixaxis, which could be mapped to replace the analogue stick movements, although it wasn't too accurate. It also boasted the scroll wheel on the body of the pad, but that didn't work too well either. But as a standard pad, the SideWinder was a solid controller for the seven PC users that don't constantly play FPS and RTS games.
The SixAxis takes on the basic ergonomic design of the mighty Dual Shock 2, adding in tilt sensitivity and analogue shoulder triggers and dumping the wires and... *sigh*... the force feedback. Of course, it's every bit as comfy as the PS2 edition (even though it feels too light in the hand), and wireless is a bonus, but would you sacrifice rumble for tilt, which has hardly been of any use so far? We say a definitive "no". Bring back that rumble Sony.