The Great Controllers Of Our Time: A Debate

Part 4 - The plot thickens!

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

The All-Seeing Eyebrow: Dreamcast Pad

It seems a waste of time to me that Ieven need to write this review. I mean, if you don't have a Dreamcast, you obviously don't have an eye for good consoles. However, if you want to know about the controllers, here goes....

Call me biased, as I have a dreamcast, but I've yet to find a better controller. I'm not just saying this, the controllers are perfect. First of all, it fits around your hand. That's right, it is comfortable to hold! Forget your Playstation controllers, after using one of these babies you'll find Sony's brick is incomparable. The controller is moulded to pretty much wrap around your hand. As hardcore gamers will know, this is vital when you're playing that all-important game. The main buttons are perfectly placed on the front, there is a directional pad, and analogue stick, all within easy reach of your thumb. On the back, there are two trigger buttons, which your index finger can press at will, to your hearts content. The only button that is a struggle to reach, is the old start button, but this is a minor flaw.

One of the unique features of the Dreamcast is the Visual Memory Unit (VMU). This plugs nicely into your controller, and while you're playing a game, images come up on screen. This is a brilliant idea, which takes memory cards to another level, one that is not matched by any other console. Behind that, there is another port, to which you can connect a vibration pack or another device (including a second VMU)

If all that hasnt grabbed you, there is even a slot that you can fit the cable into so that it isnt dangling in front of you. All in all, the controller compliments the dreamcast wonderfully. if you dny own one, find your nearest second hand dealer, or browse the net and get one! NOW

 

Oberon: Atari 2600 joystick

They say the old ones are the best ones, and it's time to go way, way back into the history of videogames to pull out the Daddy of controllers. The fabled Atari joystick.

When gamers cracked open their brand-new VCS in the late 1970s.it was this wonder that greeted them when they reached for the controls. It may not look like much, but looks can be deceiving. That single button was perfectly positioned for frantic games of Space Invaders or Centipede, and could stand up to hours of prolonged jabbing without any complaints.

Meanwhile the rubber stick itself fails to disappoiunt. A solid plastic shaft coated in this wonder-substance is the perfect joystick of all time, hands down. Reliable enough to provide instant response to a sudden jerk to the left or right, firm enough not to slip out of your hands mid game, and the glue holding it together proved impossible to get out of your clothes (damn you, curious youth).

The base was firm enough to withstand use of the stick as a weapon (for when those head-to-head games got personal), and actually fits perfectly into the palm of one's hand. Holding this stick is a joy, and you can tell that sheer usability was high on the agenda at Atari, unlike some modern controllers (Hello? Microsoft? My hands are NOT the size of Russia, nor are anyone else's). The cable was also long enough to allow one to sit a comfortable distance away from the telly, another thing that seems to be gradually forgotten these days.

This stick was so excellently made, when Atari took to making wireless controllers for the 2600, it was this they designed them around. Even today, with the release of a
10-in-1 compilation of actual 2600 games (just plug it into your TV and you're away), the whole machine is... a 2600 joystick, just with TV outputs.

Let us not forget that the controller plug is the same as used on machines such as the Sega Master System/Mega Drive. Ever tried playing Sonic with a 2600 stick? It's ace.

Has nostalgia set in yet? No? Just look at it, it's retro chic!


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