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5 Horrible Console Controllers

In the ever-changing world of videogames, innovative moves are often taken to try to stay fresh and new. Stagnation can become dangerous for companies trying to turn a profit. That being said, sometimes innovations are less of a hit, and more like… missing the broadside of a barn when you were only a few feet away. The following are just five of the products that majorly missed the mark.

#5—The Dreamcast Controller

Sega’s Dreamcast met a quick end, with many factors at play that lead to its demise. But I personally feel one of them has always been the design of its controller. Coming into an age where controllers were already beginning to adopt a dual-joystick design, the Dreamcast shipped with only one. It also had a design that was more favorable to the hefty-handed, not children or those with average-sized hands. It’s not even necessarily that the controller itself was horrible; it just came a day late and a dollar short to the party.

#4—Wii U Tablet

Nintendo is going to show up on this list a few times, and that’s because sometimes their eagerness for innovation gets away from them. Before the success of the Nintendo Switch, and riding on the heels of the Nintendo Wii, came the Nintendo Wii U. The selling point of the Wii U was… a massive, bulky, hideous tablet that served as a second screen and was touted as something you could play in a different room. Your game didn’t have to stop when you went around the house! Except… yes it did, because the range dropped incredibly quickly. It may have been a precursor to the Switch, but man it was a painful one.

#3—Nintendo 64 Controller

Iconic, yet clunky, the Nintendo 64’s controller was an awkward experience at best, whose layout often left buttons unused due to how wide the controller was.

Were you supposed to hold it by the center? By the left side? Who knows! Not even the developers seemed to know half the time, the d-pad being mostly abandoned. And when it wasn’t abandoned, it threw people for a loop after so many games had relied on the analog stick. While the Nintendo 64 was great, and we all made due with this controller, it was definitely among the worst controller designs I’ve ever experienced.

#2—The Xbox Kinect

Imagine now, a hands-free way to control your games. Imagine a new level of immersion that brings you into the game, something even better than VR, as it doesn’t rely on hand devices.

Sounds great, right?

Well, it wasn’t.

It was the Xbox Kinect, with terrible microphone integration and motion controls to play the Kinect-supported games. Even the slightest deviation from it would result in nonsense. Sometimes, nonsense was the only way to handle some of the titles, and you’d be flailing around just hoping to succeed because the controls were so inconsistent. It was expensive garbage, with not even a redeeming collector’s sentiment to it.

Which brings us to the most gloriously awful controller, to have ever existed.

#1—The Nintendo Power Glove

Take in the visual.

Take it in with all of it’s late 80’s glory.

The Nintendo Power Glove was one of the first attempts at a virtual reality experience, altering the way you played the game but not necessarily in an effective way. You would wear the glove with one hand, and games would respond with varying success to the movement of your fingers. In actuality, most games didn’t even use the movement features, relying instead on the wrist-mounted buttons. The Power Glove is a neat blast from the past, and good for a collector, but beyond that it’s useless. It has more use now as a neat conversation piece than it ever had as an actual controller.

It’s hideous, and I love it.

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  1. You know I love you guys… But we’re gonna have a little dispute over the wii u’s tablet being on this list.

    • supersiren on July 25, 2019 at 7:48 pm said

      same here bro.
      it was comfortable to hold and posting on the miiverse was so fun…

      • lol!

        • I really think the controller portion of the Wii U Gamepad was more than perfectly fine. There really were no flaws. It was bulky, yes, but it wasn’t even heavy, had nice buttons, good placement. I’d put the Sega Master System and Turbo Grafx 16 controllers as objectively worse controllers even though they were lighter and more compact, particularly when you consider what the extremely similar NES pad was able to do in comparison with just a start and select button.

          I pretty much agree with the rest of it minus the inclusion of the Power Glove and Kinect. They weren’t “controllers” so much much as they were novelty peripherals. Sure, I salivated over the Power Glove as a kid reading Nintendo Power, but as it was, as with the Kinect, an optional way to play games, I don’t think it’s fair to compare it to mainline controllers.

          • Oh, what about those old controllers, for systems like the Intellivision or ColecoVision, that used a number pad to play games. Was seriously like you were using a flip phone to play console games. the consoles were made around 1985 so the games looked basic, but the controls were a mess.

      • My fingers underneath it were always unconfortable with the Wii u pad. Also the Wii U pad was very expensive to replace. The benefits of the screen were reduced by the fact that you have to look away from the TV to look at it. It doesn’t matter that a menu doesn’t cover your screen if your not looking at the TV anyways.

      • Wii U gamepad may be one of the best controllers ever made. It may be big but it was very comfortable to hold for me. Also i played most games on its screen. I dare anyone to say that the switch is more comfortable than wii u gamepad, cause its just not true. The wii u pro controller on the other hand is shit, because for some reason they put the right analog on top and the buttons in the middle, and just can’t reach the y button during normal play. So i pretty much never used it.

    • I thought the power glove was a joke lol

    • Leave a Whisper on September 12, 2019 at 1:59 pm said

      The WiiU pad totally deserves to be on the list.

      Its clunky
      It has crummy battery life
      You only got one per console with no easy or affordable way to fix or replace it
      You couldn’t hook up a second one to the U
      And some games require the stupid thing

      Try and defend THAT, if you can

  2. ImaGremlin on July 25, 2019 at 6:55 am said

    The dreamcast controller wasn’t bad at all. It came before the PS2, there was no use for double analog sticks at the time, and the VMU’s were an awesome idea. The only gripe I have with it is the cable coming towards you as opposed to the TV.

    The N64 controller was also good, it was supposed to have three modes. You have to remember this was the introduction of the analog stick so they tried to provide a transition for both developers and players. Holding it by both outermost handles would give you, more or less, an snes controller. But the analog stick as such a hit that all games used the centre-right configuration. It was also the first one with rumble.

    The other ones, I can agree.

    • Loved the Dreamcast controller. Although they should’ve put the wire on the other side!

      • Jim "GozerTC" Yee on July 27, 2019 at 3:07 am said

        Same. More Dreamcast love from me though I do have monster hands as my current Duke controller ownership and use can attest. 🙂

        • I couldn’t disagree more. The Dreamcast was an awful controller through and through. A terrible D-pad, the second worst analog stick, one “option/start/select” button, one set of shoulder buttons AFTER the Playstation had introduced two in an ergonomic manner, plus a bottom fed wire.

          I don’t even think the VMU should factor in to a controller discussion, seems completely irrelevant as it didn’t in any way affect the way you played games.

    • WIth shooter games, it used the buttons to move around and that left you with few buttons for other things. MDK2 on the PS2 had a horrable frame rate, but despite that it’s a lot easyer to play for the controller options alone. There are PS1 games that made use of the duel sticks. Alien Resurrection had the modern day FPS controls. Soilder of Fortune is a game i finished on the DC and learning the controls in that games takes a lot of effort.

  3. wolfman1911 on July 25, 2019 at 8:36 am said

    I love the Power Glove, it’s so bad.

  4. Looking at that N 64 controller i cant wrap my mind around how we used it lol

  5. I realise that the Kinect was a terrible controller for games, but I do like the technology. It was used in very creative ways in robotics and computer vision.

    Not a fan of the Wii U tablet. They were really going after the mobile crowd with that one. Then there’s the price. If nothing else its functionality lead the way to Switch, which is a great platform.

  6. The N64 controller wasn’t that bad, it’s a bit clunky but that’s it. And speaking of horrible controllers, no mention of the NES Power Pad?

    • Riax Irosa on July 25, 2019 at 5:04 pm said

      This list is really spot on but i would argue that the single joycon is way worse than wiiu pad

      • Yeah, a single joycon just barely beats out the Wii controller (when used horizontally as a “2D controller” as the worst Nintendo has to offer. Even two joycons attached to the Switch is a subpar experience, though I understand the intent with the design was to have it usable in a pair or as a stand alone controller.

        The N64 controller was functional but incredibly flawed. An almost completely unused D-pad, which was fine when you had to use it, and the single worst official analog stick to ever hit the market. I think the analog/Z button combination was fun and used rather well in most games, and the C buttons weren’t half as bad as they could’ve been, especially for first person shooters on console at the time, but Sony clearly outplayed them with the Dual Shock– Even only a handful of developers knew what to do with them in an intuitive way.

  7. One thing most people don’t realise: The Power Glove actually works. It requires being set up properly and choosing the right configuration from a list that is available in the glove’s instruction book, but when you get all that handled, the Power Glove does exactly what it was designed to do.

    The one snag is that even when it works, it’s simply not the ideal way to play most NES games. Most of them expect immediate digital response instead of fuzzy interpretations from motion. Super Glove Ball, the game that was designed for the Power Glove, gets it right and incorporates smooth motion from what your hand is doing.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a bad controller. But this is a sad reminder that it actually could have been good.

    • Yeah the main problem with the Power Glove was it mapped analogue hand movements to precise digital inputs. Lucas in The Wizard made it look like it acted as an analogue steering wheel in Rad Racer whereas in reality it just held down left/right depending on which way you moved your hand.

      In a away I’m surprised no-one has tried to do the Power Glove on modern hardware as it should be possible to do a much better job of it these days.

  8. Fuzzybeard on July 25, 2019 at 6:10 pm said

    Nintendo power glove isn’t that adorable lol.

  9. bloodfistzero on July 26, 2019 at 12:48 pm said

    Maybe its because I have the hands of a giant, but I loved the N64 controller. Keep in mind I also love the OG Duke controller, the s model was too small for me.

    • Jim "GozerTC" Yee on July 27, 2019 at 3:09 am said

      You rocking the Hyperion Duke controller? Love mine. Big hand high five!

      • The Duke was a great, comfortable controller, and I have small hands. Only my 9 year old brothers had trouble using it because of the size; I think everyone was making a big stink about nothing.

        The big Xbox logo was retarded though.

        • ImaGremlin on July 30, 2019 at 5:55 am said

          They had to make it that size because of a poorly designed board. I actually saw some of the prototypes and both the jewel on the console and the logo on the controller were much nicer. They clearly had to cheap out in those for production.

  10. Iason Conyers on July 26, 2019 at 1:40 pm said

    What about the first Xbox controller? That Damn thing was a huge guys dream to play with.

  11. The mic for Hey You Pikachu was a piece of crap.

    By the way, I always hated all Playstation controllers. Don’t know why. PS4’s even gives me tendinitis in my left hand.

  12. Jus10Four20 on July 27, 2019 at 7:13 am said

    I love the way the Dreamcast controller fits in my hand🤘I still occasionally play mine. The Duke was too bulky for me

  13. epicforger12345 on July 27, 2019 at 3:49 pm said

    completely agree the wii u tablet was alright

  14. Gerard Fletcher on July 28, 2019 at 12:28 am said

    I’m surprised the Xbox One pad isn’t on here for just how flimsy it is. I’ve gone through 3 in 18 months compared to having the same two for about 8 years for the 360.

  15. The Atari Jaguar controller is the worst controller that I have ever used! The Six Axis “motion” control on the PS3 is also god awful!

  16. The Dreamcast controler was and is great. Never missed a second analog stock, because they are mostly trash anyway. I had a mouse and keyboard for Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament.
    Fur Fighter had one of the best control schemes ever without using a second stick.
    The worst thing about it are the useless displays on the save game cartridges.
    wkr
    (from a lefty who isn’t a SJW)

  17. jordanwashere21 on July 29, 2019 at 7:36 pm said

    I don’t know about this list. I thought the Dreamcast controller had a really nice feel. And, you mean to tell me that the original Xbox controller is better than the N64 controller?? I thought the 64 controller was super innovative for it’s time, and I liked it more than the game cube controller with it’s ridiculous button placement.

    • Same here, I love the N64 and DC controllers and find them very comfortable to use so I really don’t get the hate they get. I suppose if someone has never played on those systems and tries to imagine playing a modern game with them they might seem like terrible designs, but back then the games were often designed around the controller and so the lack of a second analogue stick or additional buttons was never a problem.

      The N64 controller in particular doesn’t seem to get much credit these days for bringing analogue control or force feedback to the mass market. Those input methods are now central to pretty much all modern games. Likewise the DC popularised analogue triggers (although the Saturn analogue pad did do them first) and most controllers now include analogue triggers.

  18. What about those old controllers, for systems like the Intellivision or ColecoVision, that used a number pad to play games. Was seriously like you were using a flip phone to play console games. the consoles were made around 1985 so the games looked basic, but the controls were a mess.

  19. ImaGremlin on July 30, 2019 at 5:50 am said

    I have the feeling that these opinions are coloured by the games people played with these controllers.

    I can’t hate the dreamcast controller, had too much fun with that console. Same with the Duke, I hold it and I’m reminded of Halo CE, so can’t hate it.

  20. Nic Butorac on July 30, 2019 at 9:15 am said

    How dare you sir, insult the POWER GLOVE! The most powerful and epic piece of gaming equipment to ever exist.

  21. I’m sorry, but you need to remove the Dreamcast controller and WiiU Game pad from this list. Replace the WiiU Game pad with the horrible Atari Jaguar controller and replace the Dreamcast controller with the OG 3DO controller.

  22. I don’t agree with the WiiU pad. I like the pad it felt comfortable in my hands but I don’t like Xbox controllers or the old ps controller that were made for kids hands only.

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