Over the years many different game consoles have hit the shelves, and all of them have brought out some type of new controller for us to use. While some companies simply stuck with modified versions of older controller styles; others decided to do something completely different. Either way, over the past 8 gaming generations we have seen quite a lot of different types. Some of these controllers were flat out hated, some were completely forgotten, and others were loved. Even if you haven't realized it yet for yourself, game controllers actually do play a major role in a console's life, and sometimes it can either make or break a console for some people. So anyway, with that being said, I would like to discuss what I'd consider to be the top 10 controllers out there. These are controllers which made playing games enjoyable, as well as ones that changed the gaming world forever!

Now I'm sure just about everyone out there remembers the NES controller (or at last have seen it at some point). The controller was a simple rectangle shaped controller, it had two face buttons (A and B), a start button, a select button, and it also had something COMPLETELY brand new; the D-Pad. Although before the NES came out there were other lesser known game consoles which had something similar to the D-Pad, none of them really quite worked as well as what Nintendo had to offer. Really the NES controller in general started a revolution of shorts in the gaming world, and if it wasn't for this controller things would have been different; however, that isn't the controller I wanted to list here in the number 10 spot.

Although the NES controller was quite nice, it really wasn't the controller you wanted to use. Chances are if you had a NES, you would have gone out and bought a little something known as the "NES MAX" Controller! This controller had two hand grips, which made the controller rest easier in your hands, but that wasn't the only improvement it brought. Back during the NES days a lot of games actually required button mashing (just look at Ghost Hunters or Double Dare) to progress through the games, and sometimes it actually hurt to do so. Well, that isn't a problem for the NES MAX controller! This thing also had two rapid fire auto buttons (one for A and one for B) to make things a lot easier! Really, that alone was what sold this controller, and it basically made the original controller useless.

Besides the grips and auto buttons, this controller also brought out something which we wouldn't see again until the Nintendo 3DS. In place of the D-Pad is actually a "circle pad" of sorts which could be slid around a full 360 degrees. Your thumb fit nicely into the indent of the slider, and it's nice red color also helped make it stand out. On top of that it also had buttons around the outside which could be used just like the D-Pad for anyone who wasn't a fan of the new design. Basically though, this controller was made to make a LOT of people happy, and it got the job done!

When the SNES first came out in Japan, it featured a colorful controller with four buttons (instead of two), as well as an L and R button; however when it finally came to the US, it had some minor design changes. The colors were actually changed to pinkish and purple buttons, and the build of the controller was slightly different as well. Even though the US version of the controller wasn't as colorful as the original Japanese one, I'm putting it at number 9 on this list.

The thing about the SNES controller in general is that it also made some improvements which we still see today. Although the SEGA Genesis was already out in the US before the SNES finally got over here, it's controller really didn't bring us anything new; other than a single extra button. The SNES on the other hand, with it's addition of two extra buttons, as well as an L and R button, games weren't as limited as they were in the past. Now today these extra buttons are just features in controllers that we tend to take for granted, and most people don't realize just how different things would be without them. If it wasn't for the SNES, who knows how long it would have been before the L and R buttons became major features in our games (as well as the extra buttons).

Although the US version of the SNES controller is basically the same as the Japanese version, there is one build difference besides the color difference. While on the original controller all of the buttons were bumps that stuck out, on the US controller the Y and X buttons actually sink in. Even though this might not seem like much, it actually is a lot easier on your thumb, and that can really help out for games that might require you to hold them buttons down. Now if you're the type of person who doesn't care if the buttons are sunken in or not/you like the original Japanese controller better; well worry not. They actually released a second model which basically was the Japanese controller later on. The only real difference between that one and the Japanese version was the fact that it said "Super Nintendo" on it.

When the "Ultra 64" was first announced, I'm sure a lot of people thought the same thing: "just what is up with that controller?" Well, as time went on, the name of the system was changed to the "Nintendo 64," and we finally got a chance to try out it's controller for ourselves. Well, it was still a bit strange...

The thing about the N64 controller is that it is one of them "love or hate" type controllers. The thing had two grips on the left and right side, but it also had a 3rd grip in the center for the newly added analog stick. Due to this controller design players would find themselves switching between the left grip and the middle grip based on the games, because not all of the games actually used the same controller set ups. While some games used the classic D-Pad (which required you to hold it on the left grip), others used the completely brand new analog stick (which was found just above the middle grip). Really looking back on it now it is still a a bit strange, but it did in fact work.

Although the N64 controller is kind of funny, Nintendo once again advanced the video game market with it's design. Up until the N64 came out small analog sticks really weren't all that popular. Most consoles would either have joy sticks, or D-Pads, while others would use something strange such as a key pad with a face plate you would lay over the top. Really these older styles did work for older 2D games, but with the N64 games were not in full true 3D, and they required something a bit different. With the brand new smaller analog sticks 3D games could be controlled better, and the analog stick was also nice and easy on your thumb. On top of that the N64 controller added in four new buttons (the 4 C buttons) which allowed for camera control, as well as quite a few new features as well.

In short, the N64 controller did a LOT of things right; despite the fact it was a funny looking controller, which was sometimes strange to hold. If it wasn't for this controller, who knows when analog sticks would have finally came out. Heck the N64 alone sparked the design changes for the next controller on this list.

Even if you have never played a SEGA Dreamcast in your life, chances are that you'll love it's controller! The standard Dreamcast controller has grips on the sides, it has an analog stick on the upper left side, a D-Pad located directly under it, a start button in the middle of the controller, four face buttons on the right side, and an L button and an R button on the back. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Well, if it doesn't, let me explain it to you.

Although it's a seemingly forgotten fact, Microsoft was actually one of the companies that supported the SEGA Dreamcast, and they actually did quite a bit of work for it. Originally Microsoft wanted to have Windows CE be the main OS for the SEGA Dreamcast, but in the end it ended up being an OS that quite a few Dreamcast games used. Due to Microsoft being close to the SEGA Dreamcast, it's very clear that their future system, the Xbox, was influenced by it; as well as its controller. After the Dreamcast died out, Microsoft decided to basically pick up where the DC left off, they created their own online network, got DC developers to create games for their system, and they also incorporated quite a few design features from the DC as well. So anyway, long story short, if it wasn't for the Dreamcast, and it's controller; we most likely wouldn't have the well known 360 controller we see today. I'll get to that a little bit later though.

The other main feature the Dreamcast controller had which made me put it on this list, was actually how it used the memory card and other attachments. Now sure, the N64 had some add ons (such as a rumble pack), but none of that really compares to the DC's VMU. Basically a VMU was the DC's memory card, but it also had quite a lot of other uses as well. Unlike every other memory card we see today, the VMU actually had a screen on the front of it, and when it plugged into the DC controller, you could see the screen through a little "window." On this screen games would display different pieces of information, and it also allowed you to interact with some of your games on the go. With Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 for example, you could actually take your Chao with you, and play with them like a virtual pet; you could also use it to find out extra information about the games (did you know Chao get scared when their "chao thing" turns into a halo or spike ball? I bet most of you didn't). Really, the VMU was a nice feature, and it was actually pretty useful in a lot of games that used it. It was actually a nice controller design, and it kind of makes me sad to see that this type of thing wasn't seen again until the end of 2012.

Up until now I've been just about going down the line in order of release. Just about every new game release has brought some kind of improvements to older controller's styles, and that's why I've been listing them in that order; however now I'm going to change things up. The 6th controller on this list is not what most of you might think, but it's a controller I really felt deserved this place. You see, not everyone likes this controller because of how different it is, yet at the same time it also something new to the table. Just what is this controller? None other than the Wii Remote of course! Well, actually, the Wii Remote Plus to be exact.

When Nintendo announced the Nintendo Wii, a lot of fans were split. First of all not many people actually liked the name of the console. While a lot of people had their hearts set on getting the Nintendo Revolution, they found themselves buying the Nintendo Wii instead, and on top of that, the controller was nothing like they imagined either. Instead of getting a game pad with gyro censors in place of the analog sticks (like what was rumored), fans found themselves looking at a remote control with motion controls, an attachable analog stick, as well as an attachable classic styled controller (which was a mix between the SNES and GCN controllers).

The thing about the Wii Remote is, it was used both amazingly well, and sometimes pathetically bad. The truth is that the original Wii Remote was nothing more than a pointer with a tilt censor built in, and it couldn't actually tell its location in 3D space like Nintendo first lead us to believe. While games like Zelda used swinging in place of the "A" button, others actually used the motion control and pointer to interact with games in very unique ways! Metroid Prime 3 (and later the Prime Trilogy) used the motion controls to make the games even more enjoyable, but then there were also games that were better off without the motion control (NiGHTS is a great example of this). Even so the motion controls did bring something new to the table, and for the most part they worked pretty well; however there was still room for improvement.

When the Wii Motion Plus add on and Motion Plus controller came out, the Wii was finally up to the standards Nintendo originally set. It had true 1:1 motion controls (which games like Zelda Skyward Sword made full use of), and because of that game developers were able to take their motion control gaming to the next level. Even if you don't like the Wii Remote, you have to admit that it is pretty unique, and it can be used in some really good ways if the game developers actually try and make the most out of it. The only real down side to this controller is the fact that the 1 and 2 buttons are at the bottom of the controller, and it can be a bit strange reaching down there to hit them. At least the A button is in the middle, the B button is the back trigger, and the D-Pad is located at the top of the controller; all of which are nice and easy to hit. On top of that the Z and C buttons are the triggers on the Nun Chuck, which are also in a nice and easy place for you to reach.

Although the Wii U is the newest system to hit the markets, it's controller once again takes things to a whole new level; however it's still a bit too early to tell what it's fullest potential will be. When the Wii was released, it actually took quite a few months before games really started getting the controller, and it also took a few years before a lot of the big name games started hitting the console. As of right now the Wii U is still at the start of it's life, and we really don't know what companies will come up with when it comes to using the game pad for their games. Either way, currently the game pad is actually a pretty unique feature, and that's why I felt it deserved a higher spot on this list.

The Wii U Game Pad basically brings the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS controls to a home console, and it allows game companies to do things that they normally wouldn't be able to do. First of all, the Game Pad features a second screen which can be used for inventory management, showing maps, and just about anything else you can imagine/anything else you've seen on a DS/3DS game. It can also be used along side the Game Pad's motion control (as seen in the Ninja Throwing Star based game in Nintendo Land), and it also makes for a very fast way to navigate through menus. On top of all of that, some games actually allow you to play your games ON the Game Pad without the use of a TV. Although not everyone will find a use for this, it can be quite a nice feature (especially if you're playing M rated games such as Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, and you don't want company/other members in your house from seeing it. Great way to hide it from kids!)

Currently there's only a handful of games that actually really make use of the Game Pad, but it does make using things such as the social network styled Miiverse much easier to use. You can easily type out messages/draw pictures to send to friends, and it's pretty easy to navigate the Wii U's menus as well. Sure you can do a lot of these very same things with the Wii Remote, but pointing will never be as fast as simply touching.

Another plus is that the game pad has two analog sticks, four face buttons, start and select buttons, a D-Pad, home buttons (as well as a TV and power button), a built in mic, L1, L2, L3, R1, R2, and R3 buttons (sadly none of the buttons are pressure sensitive though, which can be a problem for racing games), and despite its size, it actually rests nice and easily in your hands! Sure it does take a bit of getting used to at first (especially since the analog sticks are above the other buttons), but once you do you'll find that it's actually a pretty nice controller. The only down side is that you basically need to keep it plugged in. It's only got about a 4 hour battery life, and you'll find yourself running that battery down quite a lot (especially if you find yourself playing games OFF of the Game Pad away from your TV).

When the PlayStation first came out, the controllers actually looked quite a bit different. Although it did in fact have all of the standard buttons we've come to know and love, it was missing something; or rather two things... Believe it or not, but the original controller didn't have the dual analog sticks, and soon Sony found themselves redesigning their controller to include them.

The PlayStation DualShock controller is actually a controller we still use today. It featured grips for your hands, it had a D-Pad which was sort of built behind the face of the controller, it had four face buttons, it had not only an L and R buttons, but an L2 and R2 buttons as well, AND it also featured two analog sticks which also provided us with an L3 and R3 button. On top of all of that, the face buttons were also pressure sensitive (which was used in quite a few games), and most games also gave you quite a few options on how to control them. While the N64 had games that were either D-Pad use only or Analog Stick only, most PS1 games were actually built using the D-Pad, with analog stick support that could be turned on by pressing a button between the analog sticks.

Really the DualShock controller was a great controller, it allowed game companies to do a bit more with their games control wise, and it's a controller that still works even today! When the PlayStation 2 came out we got the DualShock 2 (which really wasn't any different), and when the PlayStation 3 came out we got the DualShock 3 (which was wireless, and added pressure sensitive L2 and R2 buttons, as well as a PlayStation button to access the XMB). Even though it's been over a decade since this controller was designed, it still holds up just as good/if not better as it did on the PS1. Truthfully I would have put this at number 2 on the list, but the controllers ahead of this do offer something the PS1-3 controllers didn't.

The Nintendo GameCube controller is one of them controllers almost everyone loves. While some people say it's the best Nintendo controller to date, others just simply liked its design and its buttons; however the standard GCN controller is not the one I'm putting on this list. Nope! Instead this place is being taken up by an optional GCN controller that you would have to go out and buy yourself; the Wave Bird controller!

While the Nintendo GameCube controller was great on its own, it wasn't the best option out there. The Wave Bird controller is designed just like a standard GCN controller; however there is one difference, and that difference did in fact make all the difference (yeah....). So, just what was it that made this thing so special? Well... IT WAS WIRELESS! Yep a first party controller that was wireless! All you had to do was plug a box in the front of your GCN, set it to the channel that you had set on your Wave Bird, and you were good to go! The thing actually supported around 20 channels so you never had to worry about it picking up the other 4 controllers (or any other GCN controllers around your house), and it actually had a pretty good range! Now it may not seem like it now, but this was actually a big step forward for gaming, and it is something game companies have been doing ever since! No more extra long controller port connectors (like we saw on the N64 and even PS1), and no more having to deal with wires! Nice and easy wireless controls!

Still, putting that aside, the GCN controller in general was in fact quite nice. Although the Wave Bird was a little bit bigger, it still fit nicely in your hands with the two controller grips, it had two pressure sensitive L and R buttons, it had a smaller Z button, a nice big A button in the center of the controller, a smaller B button below it and to the left, an X and Y button which wrapped around the A button, an analog stick with a D-Pad right below it, and a single start button in the center. The button layout was VERY nice, it felt great in your hands, and the new pressure sensitive triggers really came in handy for racing games and even games like Super Mario Sunshine. Nintendo also replaced the 4 C buttons from the N64 controller with a small right analog stick (or C stick), but it did actually take quite some time to get used to its smaller size.

Really though, the GCN controller was in fact one of Nintendo's better controllers, and many Wii games actually supported it even after the GCN was gone. Heck even today you'll still find people playing games like Smash Bros Brawl with their preferred controller being the GCN controller. Too bad the newer models and the Wii U don't support it...

Yep here we are back with the Wii U again. Now originally I was only planning on talking about a single controller per system, but when it came down to it, I just felt like the Pro Controller deserved a spot on this list.

For anyone who doesn't know, the Wii U actually has two main controllers, and it also supports the controllers from the Wii as well. Although the Game Pad is in fact it's main control method, a "Pro Controller" was released as well for use with specific games. This Pro Controller ditches the touch screen and motion controls for an old fashion style of play, and it is actually the recommended controller for games like Assassin's Creed 3, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, and Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper. So, just what is this controller like, and why does it deserve such a high spot on this list? Well... If you saw it for yourself; you would know right away!

At first glance, most people will actually mistake the Pro Controller for an Xbox 360 controller. It has the same shape (although it's a little bit bigger), the buttons are basically the same, and it just feels right in your hands. While the controller is still wireless, it doesn't have the big bulky battery pack the 360 controllers have, it has a Nintendo styled D-Pad instead of the rolling D-Pad, and the only real difference is the fact that the analog stick and face button placement has been flipped. Really it's a very nice controller, and it's one a lot of people will be very happy with! It's only real downside is that the buttons are still not pressure sensitive, and the flipped analog stick and face buttons can be a bit strange for awhile. So... That brings us up to number one!

So, how many of you saw this coming since I talked about the DreamCast controller? Well really I don't blame you for figuring it out early on! You see, the Xbox 360 controller is actually one of the most well known controllers to date. While back in the day not everyone played video games, in today's world it is actually a lot more common, and the Xbox 360 is basically the game system that most people own.

The Xbox 360 controller has nice grips so it fits in your hands, it too is wireless, it has four face buttons, it has two nice analog sticks, it has a pretty good D-Pad, it has pressure sensitive L and R buttons, it has LB and RB buttons, start and select buttons, and it also has an Xbox button so you can access the dashboard and other Xbox 360 features. It also has some extra plugs for add ons such as the text pad and mic, and it also has L3 and R3 buttons as well. Really the controller is just a really good controller, and that's all there is too it! A lot of people are used to using it on either their 360 or PCs, and it is a MAJOR step up from the original Xbox controller which a lot of people actually hated. It's a controller that makes DreamCast players happy, and it really has no faults. The only complaint I have with the thing is that the D-Pad rolls, and even after all of these years I find myself having a hard time getting used to it.

Well, there you have it guys! Now that you've read my Top 10 Controllers list, I hope you take the time to really appreciate your controllers as well. I know it may sound strange, but sometimes you just take things for granted, and you really don't know how lucky you are. Just think about it; any one of the controllers I talked about above could have been something completely different, and THAT could have made your gaming experience miserable. Just think, what if the NES controller was like the Atari controller but had a button on one side of the controller and another button on the other side? Or what if the N64 controller only had a D-Pad, a Z button, and had 8 face buttons to press? What if the Wii Remote didn't have the Nun Chuck and games had to be controlled with two remotes like in that E3 trailer? How about the PlayStation controllers? Would you like them as much of the analog sticks were replaced with D-Pads, and the four face buttons were in a straight line? Well ok, maybe, but chances are you wouldn't like them as much.

My point is, these controllers could have had some bad design choices, and that could have made playing games with them a lot less enjoyable. If things don't work the way they are supposed to, and if everything doesn't feel right, then there are going to be problems. Now really, next time you pick up a game controller, think about how things would have been different if that controller was never created.

List by NettoSaito (02/15/2013)

Discuss this list and others on the Top 10 Lists board.


Would you recommend this Top 10? Yes No You must register to leave a comment.
Submit Recommendation