Under Control – Best and Worst Gamepads I’ve Used

I’ve been a gamer for decades now and ever since I have memory, I’ve been playing games. From an Atari and an Intellivision back in my childhood to a PS4, Wii U and a PC today, I’ve handled quite a few controllers and keyboard designs. Some of them I found very comfortable, I could play with them for hours and it wouldn’t matter. Others were the opposite and it tired me to hold them for too long. Finally, there’s a small subset of gamepads that I thought would be uncomfortable as all hell but in reality were kinda nice!

Let me tell you about them.

Most Comfortable:

  • Super Nintendo: The second console I owned and one of my favourites. This controller was sleek. It was simple but a fantastic evolution from the blocky NES controller, and it fit my young hands perfectly. It must have made a similar impression on Nintendo since they’ve released the Classic Controller adapter for the Wii based on this design.
  • PlayStation: Gotta give something to Sony and it’s that they stick to what works and the DualShock is one of those cases. It’s fairly easy to get at all the buttons and they fit perfectly in my grip. I’ve been using it a lot lately with the PS4 and I have no issues.

    Controller

    This beauty!

  • Nintendo Gamecube: The holiest of grails. The controller to rule them all (for me). If I could use my Gamecube controller with every console, I would—after having it shipped here of course. It has a good form, good grip and it’s comfortable to hold with smooth edges. It’s the best! Again, someone at Nintendo must have thought the same because the Classic Controller Pro has the same overall design.

Least Comfortable:

  • XBOX: I don’t what it is, but I get tired using this controller. It’s too bulky for me and I always feel like everything’s in the wrong place. The shape of the grips directs my thumbs toward the center of the controller, where the big X button is, but not to the useful buttons.

    Controller

    You had to know just how to hold thing so the edge of your left hand didn’t hit the joystick and your right hand!

  • Atari 2600: I played with this relic once upon a time and never again. The joystick was ok for its time, but the other button was in an uncomfortable position when you’re wagging that stick around trying to fly through an enemy infested area! I must have hit my own hands a few times as a kid.

Surprisingly Comfortable:

  • Wii U: I first tried this one out at EGX, playing for the first time in the wonderful world of Xenoblade Chronicles X—yes, that was a shameless article drop! I thought I was going to hate the tablet thingy, that it would be bulky and heavy and uncomfortable to hold. But you know, I kinda like it. It’s just the right size not to be too bulky and the position of the grips on the back put your thumbs in the right place for everything. Even the touchscreen works great as it gives me access to important things but without taking too much of my attention away from the action on the TV.

    Controller

    This thing was surprisingly awesome!

  • Nintendo 64: The big trident! After coming off the Super Nintendo, I was skeptical about this one and as I held it I thought I would discard it immediately after. But maybe it was because I was playing Super Mario 64 but I became used to this strange thing very quickly. Even the stick in the middle, a very strange decision by today’s standards, was very easy to use!

So there’s the list. I’m keen to see what the next generation of controllers will be like. I want to get my hands on one of the Valve gamepads just to see if they’re as good as it says on the package or if they’re a nightmare to hold!

What are you favourite gamepads? Is there one you really hate? Were you ever surprised by one, on how comfortable they were despite how bad they looked?

9 responses to “Under Control – Best and Worst Gamepads I’ve Used

  1. I think the Nintendo 64 was meant to have two different ways to hold the controller depending on whether you’re playing 2D or 3D games. It’s an interesting idea, but not really one that has held up well in hindsight. Nonetheless, it is a decent controller, though I think the Virtual Console controller is better.

    Also, I’ve seen videos showcasing the Intellivision and ColecoVision controllers and they looked even worse than the Xbox and Atari 2600 controllers combined. It doesn’t help that they had more than nine buttons for games that were barely more complicated than Atari 2600 titles.

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  2. I like the PS controllers due to their symmetrical design. That may explain why I didn’t like the N64 pad. Controllers should be good for a wide range of games, but I found that Nintendo products to be less than ideal for fighters.

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