?If you’ve been playing Modern Warfare 2 for 17 hours and your hand hurts, you really can’t blame the controller; it’s your fault for playing too long. The current generation of PlayStation and Xbox controllers are fantastic — analog sticks and buttons placed in natural locations, plastic curved to fit the contours of your hand, and comfortable to hold, even for a long time (just not 17 hours).
But we haven’t always lived in this golden age of comfortable game controllers. There are more a few past consoles whose controllers were seemingly designed by well-meaning aliens with no concept of human limbs at best, and at worst, ex-Nazi scientists determined to get back at the decadent, videogame-loving West in any way they could. Check out these past (and present) joysticks and gamepads, which could and would make your hand cramp up in minutes, let alone hours (we know, because we all kept playing with them anyways, because not playing games was never an option).
?The Wii remote will hurt your hand. Mind you, it’s not from poor design (well, okay it could have been rounder and thus a little bit more comfortable) but from the mere fact you have to move it around a lot more than you would from a standard controller. In other words you have to move your hand, and your wrist, and your whole body. WHAT KIND OF MAD TORTURE MACHINE IS THIS?!?! Not only that, but when you get too excited or too sweaty, you may throw your Wiimote and smash into a ceiling light and then slice your hand open with it.
9) The Original Xbox Controller (A.k.a. “The Duke”)
?This controller isn’t totally terrible — some people even prefer this controller to the later “s” controller that came out; it’s just that it’s too goddamn big. When Microsoft decided to design a game console they had this idea that “American” meant “Big Hands.” It was a giant controller which felt like a giant stale blueberry muffin – rounded, hard and odd. Also, the giant logo in the center did nothing, the top button placement was a little odd, and the d-pad worked about as well as a 17-year old Gamestop worker on the day he’s about to walk out the back door with thousands of dollars in stolen merchandise. So, if you really don’t have freakishly huge hands, this isn’t going to be comfy.
8) Nintendo 64 Controller
?The N64 has a controller shape that resembles something you might see a Klingon smashing into a red-shirted Enterprise crewmember. It’s pointy. It’s like Nintendo didn’t know how exactly to build a controller for 3-D games, which they didn’t because this was one of the first systems to do so. It’s like an adolescent, not yet fully capable of handling the strange new world before it. If you want to use the analog stick (which most of the time you did) then the grip you had to have on this thing was none too comfortable because you had the extra weight sticking out on both sides of your hand. Then of course, the buttons didn’t help – mainly since they were four yellow nubs and only two useful buttons.
7) Nintendo Power Glove
?Hold your hand up. Now hold it up for an hour. That’s what using a Power Glove was like. You put your hand in the glove, held it up, and then you flexed it to make it do things like jump and run, which you could do with say, one thumb, on a sane controller. Not as precise as the Wii remote which would come fifteen years later, it was prone to not working at all and simultaneously giving you arm cramps and loss off all sensation in your fingers.
6) Atari Jaguar Controller
?Atari never seemed to get things right towards the end. Like the 45-year old guy deciding to start a career in stand-up comedy, it seemed doomed to failure. The Jaguar continued Atari’s long tradition of screwing things up. They had a digital pad and three buttons (not unlike a Sega Genesis) but then they had the stupid-ass 15-button numeric pad taking up the bottom of it which NOBODY CARED ABOUT, making the whole thing about as comfortable as holding a credit card terminal.
5) Fairchild Channel F
?This controller was made in 1976, so that should tell you something. Right off, it is somewhat convoluted, with a knob at the top, and that knob would move in eight directions. Then it could also twist it to use it as a paddle, then push it down or pull it up to operate as a button. All of this makes me think of… Bop It. You know, the game where you have to twist, pull, shake and pass it that was hours of fun or a good way to see how drunk you are at a party? Any game controller where you feel like you are playing children’s game of dexterity is not a good controller at all.
4) Intellivision Controller
?“Can you hear me now? No? Oh, that’s right, because I’m talking into an Intellivision controller and not a phone.”
The Intellivision had some pretty decent games to it, but it had a control setup that looked like a phone. The controller was essentially a keypad, some side “action” buttons, and a “disc;” a precursor to the later gamepads, this “disc” was as reliable as you can imagine moving a “disc” around with your thumb might be. You could tell it to go one direction, and maybe it would. Or it wouldn’t. It was like trying to control a cat through pointing at objects and saying “go over there.” The number pad created problems too, being made of a cheap membrane that sometimes got stuck, leading your game to make horrible noises like a pop star without autotuning — shrill and murder-inducing.
3) Magnavox Odyssey 2
?Take a brick. Hold in your hand. Now, put a joystick on it. There you go, you’ve created the Odyssey 2 controller. A giant plastic brick you can hold in your hand. I don’t care how good K.C. Munchkin was, playing it with a brick doesn’t make it very fun. The joystick on the brick didn’t help very much — it was short and metal with a spring-load to it that could take an eye out. If you’re holding a brick, you really don’t want a joystick with so much pull to it it’s going to fight back against your fingers. Though on the plus side, you could use it to fling small objects at high velocities at siblings.
2) Atari 7800 Prostick
?When Atari was desperately trying to make up for lost ground after the NES conquered the videogame market, they came out with the 7800, which is 2600 more than 5200, if you are following Atari’s silly naming scheme. There wasn’t any need for it to be the elongated shape at all; the 5200 controller it was based off of was designed to accommodate a keypad, which the 7800 lacked and instead had a shiny logo. Thanks Atari, I know I am playing a crappy game system. The buttons were on the side which made the joystick ambidextrous, which was only useful in the sense gripping the base of the joystick in one hand and shoving around the stiff joystick in the other, you would want to switch off to prevent severe muscle damage.
1) Atari 5200 Controller
?Oh, the Atari 5200. It was meant to be the triumphant successor to the classic 2600. This was not the case. The 5200 had more problems than a fat man wearing a Stormtrooper outfit trying to run for mayor of New York City.
The biggest problem it had was the controllers. They combined a very complex design with the cheapest parts possible. This lead to many problems, like freezes, or the controls jumping around to the point it was considered to be possessed by demons. The only proper way to deal with it is to have a priest throw holy water on it, light it on fire and then wait patiently for Nintendo to come out with a far superior console.