Every now and then, someone has a brilliant flash of inspiration and tries to re-invent the video game controller.
Not content with the standard offerings provided by the likes of Nintendo, Sega, Sony or Microsoft, third parties will occasionally decide to come up with something a little quirkier to keep things interesting.
On rare occasions, mostly involving rhythm games, these odd new controllers are actually quite functional work (as anyone who's ever played Donkey Konga or the original version of Samba De Amigo will confirm). Most of the time, though, these creations fail for a number of reasons: lack of support, players' unwillingness to learn a new control scheme, or (as is usually the case) they're just horrible controllers.
Here's our pick of some of the more unusual controllers we've seen over the years. If you owned any of these, admit to it in the comments below and we'll treat it like a sort of gaming self-help group.
Amiga Joyboard Despite its name, this was actually a 2600 peripheral made by Amiga Corporation (before Commodore bought it and started making Amiga computers). It was a very early precursor to the Wii Balance Board, with only one game - skiing title Mogul Maniac - released for it.
UForce In the days before motion gaming was accurate, Broderbund released this beast for the NES. It claimed to be able to sense hand movement, a bit like a theremin, and turn that into controller inputs. It was a shambles.
Le Stick Speaking of Wii predecessors, this interestingly shaped Atari controller (no sniggering at the back) could be held upright and tilted to move on-screen characters. Rather than using an accelerometer like today's motion controllers, it used mercury instead, making it far more pleasantly dangerous.
BatterUP This 24-inch foam covered baseball bat could be used to play numerous SNES and Mega Drive baseball games.
Dreamcast fishing rod Originally released for Sega Bass Fishing, Dreamcast fans became more interested in the peripheral when it was discovered it could also be used to swing your sword in Soul Calibur.
Turbo Touch 360 In theory, a controller that replaced the buttons and d-pad with touch panels to put less strain on your thumbs sounds like a good idea. In practice, it was a nightmare, since players naturally rested their thumbs on a d-pad and buttons even when they don't want to use them.
Nerf N-Strike Here's a clever one. This working NERF gun lets you take out the top chamber and replace it with a Wii Remote, at which point it becomes a working Wii Zapper instead.
Laserscope Not happy enough playing Duck Hunt with the NES Zapper? Want to ensure everyone keeps their distance from you because you look a bit odd? You want the LaserScope, Konami's insane headset that shines a laser on your TV and has you shouting "FIRE" into a microphone every time you want to shoot.
Tenya Wanya Teens controller Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi created this 16-button joystick for his bizarre 'social awkwardness' mini-game collection. Each button's coloured light can change randomly, meaning they can't rely on memory to press the appropriate buttons when prompted.
Katana: The Soul Released for 0, this is a sword-shaped controller by Hori designed for Onimusha 3 on the PS2. It's probably the most ridiculous themed controller ever created, but full marks to Hori for showing some bottle.
Rez Trance Vibrator Rez was one of the most immersive gaming experiences of the early 2000s because of the way its pumping, rhythmic soundtrack was integrated with the gameplay. A special edition of the game took it a little too far however because it came with the Trance Vibrator, a USB device that vibrated to the beat. Because of its shape and the power of its vibrations, many believe it was intended for... well, yes. Anyway.
Ace Combat Xbox 360 controller Ace Combat 6 is fully playable with a standard controller, so perhaps this Hori-created flight stick combo could be considered overkill. Still, it's ideal for those who take their dogfighting seriously.
Capcom Pad Soldier This was a bizarre two-handed joypad designed to improve your Street Fighter II experience. It was released on the SNES and Mega Drive, but it's the 3DO version that collectors try to find because it's worth a fortune.
PlayStation Analogue Joystick Many think Sony's first foray into analogue control was the Dual Shock, but this twin-sticked effort was released before it. It was compatible with a total of 42 games, and a mode button allowed its sticks to be used as digital d-pad inputs too.
Sammy Keyboard Controller GC What do you do when Phantasy Star Online, a game with a large focus on communication, is released on GameCube? If you're Sammy, you release this ruddy huge GameCube controller with a built-in full-sized keyboard.
Dragon Quest Slime controller The Slime is easily Dragon Quest's most popular character so it's not surprising that peripheral maker Hori decided to make this little beauty back in 2004. What is surprising is that the Slime's undercarriage is actually a fully-functioning DualShock PS2 controller.
Arkanoid Vaus controller When Arkanoid was released on the NES, Taito decided the NES contoller wasn't good enough for it so it released this special analogue dial for it instead. This special "Vaus Controller" is one of the rarest NES controllers around.
Cheetah CharacteriSticks In a moment of madness 90s company Cheetah released this series of five joysticks shaped like Bart Simpson, Batman, the Terminator and an Alien. They were all horribly uncomfortable, especially the Bart Simpson one because his spiky hair jabbed into your hand.
Namco NeGcon Before the days of the DualShock, Namco came up with its own analogue controller for the PlayStation. The bizarre NeGcon (neh-GEE-con) was created for Ridge Racer games and could be twisted at the middle for analogue steering. It actually worked fantastically well and the replacement of the square and circle buttons with two analogue buttons made accelerating and braking more realistic too.
Resident Evil 4 chainsaw controller This has both the distinction of being our favourite game-related controller design ever, and the shame of being the most impossible to use effectively. Very much a case of style over substance.
The Claw The quest for the ergonomic mouse continues to this day, which sadly means the Claw must have failed. According to its Australian creator, "tens of thousands" of Claws were sold in its 11-year life before production ended in 2011.
eDimensional Access Controller Designed by renowned modder Ben Heck, this clever device was designed to enable all games to be played one-handed thanks to interchangable 'control modules'.
Namco Jogcon Not satisfied to rest at the NeGcon, Namco released a second odd analogue controller for the PlayStation to accompany its release of the excellent Ridge Racer: Type 4. The Jogcon featured a force-feedback dial in the middle of the controller, which let you steer the car while feeling the torque and feedback from the car.
Roll & Rocker Developed by LJN Toys, this NES gizmo was another ill-fated attempt to get players moving characters with their feet, despite how 'rad' it looked.
Wii bowling ball Most third-party peripheral makers jumped on the Wii Sports bandwagon with Remote shells shaped like tennis rackets. This went one further with an entire working controller shaped like a bowling ball.
Sonic Screwdriver Wii Remote Many of the controllers in this feature were a little too elaborate to actually be useful while playing a game, but this Doctor Who merch is pretty solid. It works just like a normal Remote but it also has a built-in battery that can be recharged via USB, making it arguably better than the standard Wii Remote.
Sega Activator Arguably the worst controller ever made, this was a set of sensors that sat on the floor and apparently picked up your punches and kicks for fighting games. Did it work? Have a guess.
Reversible Mega Drive controller This unreleased prototype allowed players to detach the D-Pad and attach it to either the left or right of the buttons, so that left-handed players could play better. It was never given the nod and the prototype sold for 0 on eBay.
Samba De Amigo maracas To gamers of a certain age, the phrase "quirky controller" immediately brings these to mind - the motion-sensing Samba De Amigo maracas. Released for the Dreamcast version of the game in 2000, they sold in such limited numbers in the west that UK or US versions of the maracas (without the game) can regularly go for well over £100 online.
Microsoft Sidewinder Dual Strike Microsoft released a number of Sidewinder-branded controllers for PCs, but this was one of the oddest. The round hinge in the middle worked a bit like the NeGcon in that it offered an additional control method.
Atari Mindlink No word of a lie, this was supposed to let players control Atari 2600 games using only their head muscles. Unsurprisingly, it was never released after tests showed players got headaches moving their eyebrows around.
Twilight Princess GameCube controller This special prototype was designed by Nubytech, the same company that created the Resident Evil 4 chainsaw controller. When Nintendo decided to port Twilight Princess to the Wii and make that the main version, the controller was scrapped. The prototype recently sold for 00.
Wu-Tang PlayStation controller In 1999 Activision released Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style, a dodgy Power Stone knock-off for the PlayStation featuring members of the Wu-Tang Clan as fighters. The limited edition came with this amazing controller shaped like the Wu-Tang symbol. It was a bit of a nightmare to use because of its shape, though.
Batman: Arkham City Batarang There's been a slew of licensed controllers recently but this is our favourite, released by Power A to coincide with Batman: Arkham City. As well as lighting up and giving you the option to change what colours the LEDs are, it's also interesting because the PS3 controller is laid out like an Xbox 360 one.
Interact Pool Shark The Pool Shark let players use an actual pool stick to play games. As you can imagine, it had a bit of a niche audience.
SNES GameCube controller When Nintendo released the Game Boy Player for the GameCube (which allowed you to play Game Boy, Game Boy Color and GBA games on your TV), Hori brought out a special GameCube controller designed to look like a SNES pad. If you can find one, it's ideal for Wii Virtual Console games too.
Intel Wireless Gamepad The idea of a wireless gamepad wasn't a unique one when Intel threw its hat into the ring. The idea of shaping it like a travel pillow - that was new.
Speedboard If you were struggling to think of ways to waste your money during the NES era, the Speedboard was on hand to help. It was literally a piece of plastic that held your NES controller in place so you could play it "faster" with just your fingers.
Mortal Kombat III Kontrol Pad These controllers had their own cartridge slot and came with a selection of cartridges, each containing the special moves for certain Mortal Kombat characters (only some of them though - you had to buy extra cartridges for every character). If you chose a character in the game and inserted their cartridge in the controller, you could press the four long buttons to execute their special moves instantly.
Marvel Vs Capcom 3 fightpad An explosion at an art factory led to this Fightpad for the Xbox 360. It's clearly one of the "busiest" designs we've seen on a controller.
Tron Legacy Xbox 360 controller As Tron Legacy hit cinemas and the world was caught up in Tron fever, this officially licensed Xbox 360 controller hit the shops. It was a comfortable enough controller and it did the job, but its fancy lights made playing in the dark a treat and you didn't even have to meet an awkwardly CGI-faced Jeff Bridges to use it.
Nintendo Hands-Free Controller Finally, there's this. The Nintendo Hands Free controller was an early solution for gamers with physical disabilities. It's worn like a vest with a special straw in the user's mouth. Blowing activates the A button and sucking triggers the B button, while a special chin stick controls movement.