The Great Controllers Of Our Time: A Debate

What were the best controllers ever? Flying in the face of logic, Oberon and Jo-Jo battle it out to discover which was the best. Call the paramedics...

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6]


Not Jo-Jo Fine: Sega Mega Drive / Genesis, 3-button controller

This controller epitomizes everything good about console game control. From its simple yet efficient layout to the rugged durability of the D-pad this controller just oozed quality.

The most obviously noticeable feature of the controller is its curved, horn like design. This made it very comfortable to hold in your hands, especially if you were a kid (since the target market was 8-15 yr olds). Also, in a departure from standard gaming practice, the start button was located just above the three fire buttons, thus making it easier to reach, and even allowed it to be used as a game button.

The controller was able to withstand even the most extreme punishment, I would routinely drop mine from the top of my bunk bed after a hard nights gaming. It was also occasionally sat on, crushed under the roller coasters of the TV table thingy, and had chocolate smeared throughout the D-Pad. But did it stick? did it falter during a high speed Sonic 2 bonus round? did it the buttons occasionally stay depressed (yes i'm looking at you PS1 pad)? NO. This badboy was as tough as a rock, and even connected through a standard 9-pin serial connection (thus making it moddable to be used on a PC).


Oberon: SNES controller

Whoa, whoa, whoa. The Mega Drive controller - for all its greatness - ended up being revised into a 6-button layout. It just didn't have enough buttons to produce games with enough depth. The SNES pad, on the other hand, excelled at it.

Let's count the buttons: A, B, X and Y as the main fire buttons. L and R, shoulder buttons - surely the first of their kind? Add the ubiquitous Start and Select buttons, the patented Nintendo D-pad, and serve on a pad which ranks as one of the most comfortable ever. Unlike the step from Master System to Mega drive, the NES pad truly evolved into this. Is it any wonder that Sony based the Playstation pad on it.

These buttons wouldn't be much use if they didn't work well, but this is an area in which this pad excels. Responsive buttons, all within easy reach, and the unbeatable Nintendo D-pad - sorry, but not even Sega's best attempts at copying it come close.