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Input Devices Entertainment Games

Evolution of Video Game Controllers 185

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the we've-come-a-long-way-baby dept.
Ant writes "This Revolution Advanced article takes a look at the evolution of controllers from the days of Atari 2600 to Nintendo Revolution." Tragically the Intellivision controller is missing. But oh the nostalgia.
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Evolution of Video Game Controllers

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  • by mickyflynn (842205) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @11:18AM (#14606881)
    game controllers really WERE intelligently designed!
    • by ceeam (39911) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @11:25AM (#14606937)
      Are you sure certain game controllers have not just had sex with TV remotes?
    • Re:blasphemers! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Guano_Jim (157555)
      Indeed they were.

      Because they were Intelligently Designed, you see features appearing de novo with no ancestral features.

      If controllers had evolved by natural selection, you'd expect to see incremental change in features that indicated common ancestry.

      Ramen.
      • I think that this is a case of the inadequacy of the fossil record. If the intellivison, colecovision, and various outher game controllers were added, as well as the species adapted for computer use, the so-caled gaps would not be apparent. Pure Sophistry, in my view. But then, ID is sophistry.
        • Who modded this "funny"? It should be +5 insightful!

          The Intellivision control disk was the predecessor to the DPad. Do you see that in the article? No?

          The Atari Joypad was a partial ancestor to the modern thumbstick. (The analog part was first pioneered by the 5200 and the PC/C64 joysticks.) Do you see THAT in the article? No?

          The players of the 2600 had no idea what a pause button was because it hadn't been invented yet. Do you see that in the article? Yes? What the hell is a complaint about the lack of a p
    • Intelligently designed? Well, there's at least one fact against your "theory": the original XBox controller :)
    • by sehryan (412731)
      Controllers were designed by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which is why they have so many buttons. Only the FSM could use any of the current gen controllers to their full potential.
  • Is it just me or does the Nintendo Revolution controller kinda resemble the Atari 5200 controller, at least in concept. We've come a long way indeed.
    • Re:Relations (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman.gmail@com> on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @11:36AM (#14606997) Homepage Journal
      How do you figure? The Revolution controller is a remote gamepad with positional sensors and an optional self-centering thumbstick that can be plugged in. The 5200 controller was a non-centering joystick with a clunky keypad attached.

      The Revolution controller is really more like a combination of the NES Gamepad, the Powerglove, and the N64 thumbstick all stuck together in a blazingly white plastic package. (Fruity colors are on their way, I'm sure.)

      Actually, it's quite amazing that so many games were played with the Atari controllers. A joystick just wasn't a very good choice for a non-fixed controller, and the microswitches wore out easily. (Try opening up a 7800 Proline controller sometime. That sucker is CHEAP.) The Nintendo gamepad was a serious revolution in gaming for several reasons:

      1. You weren't constantly ripping the controller out of your own hand.
      2. The switches were replaced with long-lasting circuit switches. Any wear and tear could easily be repaired with new rubber parts.
      3. The lack of protrusions made it easier to store and less likely to break.
      4. Nintendo could give us a quality controller at a very low price. (I don't even want to think about what the 5200 controller cost per unit.)
      • Re:Relations (Score:4, Informative)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman.gmail@com> on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @11:39AM (#14607020) Homepage Journal
        I forgot to mention. A lot of players mod their Genesis or Nintendo controllers to work with their old 7800 systems. I guess they get tired of playing with the Painline^W Proline joysticks. :-)

        The Genesis controller seems to be the most popular as it uses the pins in a similar 1 Pin == 1 Button type of arrangement that the Proline controllers use. The NES uses a serial protocol, making the controller more flexible but much less easy to convert.
        • European and Australian 7800s saved people the hassle by shipping with a pad [atariage.com] as standard.

          Mind you, the Megadrive one would have been much more comfortable to use...

          • Mmm... yes, I did mention those in other posts. I've been trying to get my hands on one (they're a bit harder for us yanks to find), but I've heard that many players are upset over the poor quality of the devices. Supposedly, even players who have the joypads often get a Genesis controller simply because they don't want to bother nursing their joypad along.

            That's what I've heard, anyway. Feel free to refute it if you've got more info. :-)
      • I already posted a comment below, but I'll respond here, too. I really like joystick controllers better. It is much easier to control something precisely when you are moving your whole hand, instead of a thumb. However, you do bring up some good points. It is difficult to make a non-fixed joystick contoller, unless you limit yourself to a few buttons. The 2600 contollers are an example of a non-fixed joystick that worked pretty well, but they only had one button. Also, they didn't last - It is certainl
        • I really like joystick controllers better. It is much easier to control something precisely when you are moving your whole hand, instead of a thumb.

          I'm not quite sure what you're getting at. All the joysticks except the 5200 were digital, thus giving them no real advantage over a thumbpad. Putting that aside, the biggest problem with the joysticks was that you were fighting yourself. With one hand you'd be moving the joystick (and consequently, trying to remove it from your own hand) while with the other ha
          • I really like joystick controllers better. It is much easier to control something precisely when you are moving your whole hand, instead of a thumb.

            I'm not quite sure what you're getting at. All the joysticks except the 5200 were digital, thus giving them no real advantage over a thumbpad


            You are right that all the controllers we're talking about are digital. I just find it a lot easier to move a whole limb a certain direction (and rapidly), then a single digit. It's like the difference between a mouse an
            • My favorite joystick was one that required a very short throw and not too much force, but was stiff enough to bounce back quickly. I forget who made it, but it was a pretty cool and simple piece of engineering.

              Wico! [atariace.com] They made arcade joysticks, and just happened to put out a few good ones for the Atari 2600. I've never seen one IRL, but I hear they're quite good. :-)

              It's a personal preference thing, and I seem to be in the minority around here. However, every time I fire up one of the classics (Pac Man, Berz
              • Wico! They made arcade joysticks, and just happened to put out a few good ones for the Atari 2600. I've never seen one IRL, but I hear they're quite good. :-)

                Yes, I remember the Wico, but that wasn't it. However, the one I liked is on that page- it's the "Starfighter". Thanks for the link! (I think $12 is also what I paid for mine, originally). The Wico bat joysticks were popular, but I thought they had tool large of a dead zone. Other than that, they were very nice.

                It's possible too that it's your mem
  • Hrm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lonasindi (914571)
    The controllers went, in my mind, from joystick to gamepad... is this an incorrect viewpoint?
    • Re:Hrm... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman.gmail@com> on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @11:52AM (#14607121) Homepage Journal
      That's pretty much correct. The article seems highly critical of the joystick controllers, but when Atari was king the joystick was all that anyone had envisioned. The few arcade games that didn't use joysticks (Space Invaders, Asteroids, Galaxian, etc.) used simple cherry-switch buttons instead.

      Nintendo was ahead of its time when it developed the NES controller. Instead of a joystick, their extension of the buttons concept to a D-Pad created a huge boon in home gaming. Atari was still using their joysticks at the time (since they'd delayed the release of the 7800 by two years), but they quickly designed a joypad for the 7800 to compete. The joypad replaced the Proline as the standard controller for the European edition of the 7800.

      Pretty much all controllers that followed the NES included a DPad. (Including Atari's own Jaguar.) The controller didn't change significantly until Nintendo again changed the landscape with the analog thumbstick. While an analog stick had been tried before on the 5200, it had suffered from two major issues:

      1. It didn't center. At all. You had to move it back into place if you wanted to stop your character.

      2. It was designed to be held in your hand. This meant that you were applying force across the entire controller, making it hard to hold onto. The thumbstick corrected this problem by using only your thumb for control while the rest of your hand maintained a solid grip on the rest of the controller.

      The other issue with the 5200 controller, of course, was that it was simply ahead of its time. When the 5200 was released, analog sensor and ADCs weren't that cheap. By the time Nintendo released the N64, Analog to Digital converters were so cheap that one had to wonder why not to use them.

      That being said, I'm glossing over the ADC on the Paddle Contollers, but that's another story all togther. :-)
      • I miss the square corners on the NES controller. They let you know when you played too much, because not just your thumbs would hurt from the buttons, but they would actually hurt the rest of your hand too. A good way to let you know it's time to go outside
      • Good post, one minor nitpick:

        > 1. It didn't center. At all. You had to move it back into place if you wanted to stop your character.

        This isn't 100% true. While there were no springs to center the stick, the rubber "boot" that surrounded the stick was intended to serve the same purpose. If you ever manage to score a brand-new 5200 stick, you'll see what I mean. Unfortunately, the design has a couple of problems:

        The cheap rubber part wears out quickly. It's possible to replace, but not so easy to find

        • This isn't 100% true. While there were no springs to center the stick, the rubber "boot" that surrounded the stick was intended to serve the same purpose. If you ever manage to score a brand-new 5200 stick, you'll see what I mean.

          True. But my understanding was that the initial boots weren't springy enough, and that they tore apart within hours of use. Supposedly Atari continued to improve the controller manufacturing with each run, so some are better than others.

          Another major problem is that (for whatever r
  • Is it too much to ask to use the Coral Cache in article links?? .nyud.net:8090 isn't that complicated...
    • Re:/.'d already (Score:5, Informative)

      by Freexe (717562) * <serrkr@tznvy.pbz> on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @11:26AM (#14606943) Homepage
      Evolution of Controllers

      January 30, 2006

      by: Sud Koushik

      We take a look at the evolution of controllers from the days of Atari to Revolution.
      If you approach any avid gamer, and ask him or her what they like best about video games in this time and age, there is a fairly good chance they will respond with something relating to either graphics, or gameplay. While those two criterias are very important to the creation of good video games, we often ignore, and neglect the main aspect that changed the way video games were played. I am of course referring to the main method of input in video games, the controller.

      Since the dawn of video games, weve seen controllers ranging from numeric pads, to wireless, rumble emitting, ergonomic controllers. Some have been utter failures, while others have seen runaway success. However, with any successful product, its features and design will be mimicked in the hope of similar success. Thus through countless of variations of previous controllers we have arrived at what we hold and use today.

      To show you how video game controllers have evolved from its primitive state, to their modern form, we have compiled an interactive chart of controllers ranging from the days of Atari, to the newest innovation in controllers, the Nintendo Revolution controller.

      Atari 2600 Controller

      The Atari 2600 had one of the first well known digital joysticks to ever be introduced. Long before Nintendo arrived with the Nintendo 64 and made analog sticks mandatory on a controller, Atari experimented with the 2600 joystick. Unfortunately for Atari, and any of those who tried playing with this controller, it was too bulky and difficult for anyone with small hands to hold. In addition to its large base, the joystick was stiff and often didnt work, and when it did, it was barely useable. The joystick only had eight directions, so in technicality it wasnt an analog joystick. Lastly with all the problems that plagued the controller, the absence of a pause button only made it worse, when the joystick stopped working, you couldnt even pause the game.

      Atari 5200 Controller

      With the Atari 5200, the joystick method of input returned. However it was accompanied by a numeric keypad positioned underneath the joystick. This joystick turned out to be slightly better then its predecessor, by sporting 360 degrees of complete motion, unlike the 2600s simplistic eight direction joystick. Atari also addressed the complaints of a pause button, and it was included with the 5200. Unfortunately the button placements on the controller were awkward, and lead to frequent hand cramps. There are buttons place in front of the joystick, causing you to have to literally have your hands upside down to press them.

      NES Controller

      The NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and Famicom (as it was referred to in Japan) had a rectangular shaped controller with a total of four buttons. There were two circle buttons, A and B along with a Start and Select button. The last feature the controller had was a four way directional D-Pad, which was designed by Gunpei Yokoi, as a superior alternative to the joysticks from Atari. The D-Pad revolutionized the gaming industry forever. It was Nintendos way to revitalize the slowly dying gaming industry and put it on its feet again.

      SEGA Genesis Controller

      With the release of the Sega Genesis, we see controllers start to have curved handles and a more sleek design. The original controllers that were packaged with the Sega Genesis included the typical A and B buttons that the NES featured, but added on a C button. The D-Pad itself was more of else like Nintendos design with a few alternations to get around the patent. Sega soon changed the Genesis controller to feature a total of six face buttons to coincide with the release of Street Fighter II: Special Championship Edition. Even to this day some fans consider the six button Genesis controller to be one of the best for fighting games.

      SNES Controller

      The SNES control
      • Xbox Controller Mods (Score:3, Informative)

        by blackest_k (761565)
        The XBox Controller is a very moddable piece of kit.
        basically its a USB Hub with a built in joystick
        The controller Cable is 5 wire however the yellow wire is only used for a light gun and can be safely ignored.
        generally standard usb colours are used so.
        here's a hint of what to do.

        take the extension cable and split this in half (theres a big ferrite core in the middle which you may be able to dig out the plastic) and take a usb extension cable and split this in half solder the female half to the xbox half an
    • whats the point of bitching about coral cache, except to be an elitist slashbot? Half the people reading this are at work and can't hit 8090 anyway.
  • by B00yah (213676)
    but I missed the first one. This actually reminded me of my genesis six-button controller, which was one of my favorite pads before analog got big. The only issue I had with it was the edges on the d-pad would irritate the callouses that my thumbs had formed from the nes pad (overall winner in my book). I'm hoping that when they start coming out with revolution controller add-ons (to do fighters, etc), it's similar to either the genesis pad, or the Dreamcast controller...the grip just seemed right on tha
  • The Intellivision controller was this stupid little disk. Why are you crying over its exclusion, ffs?! Now Colecovision's Super Action Controllers [geocities.com] were wonders to behold!
    • The Intellivision controller was this stupid little disk. Why are you crying over its exclusion, ffs?!

      Because it was the predecessor to the Nintendo DPad? If you think about it, it was pretty much the same thing. The primary differences were:

      1) It was a 12 direction controller rather than an 8-way. (Video game companies had this stupid idea that More Features == Better, and damn the consequences.)

      2) The use of a disk rather than a four way overlay meant that you couldn't visually tell which direction you w
  • I don't have a cable to connect it to my TV anymore...

    I have the PS2 port of some games, but it just isn't the same

    • I still have mine, hidden away in a padded case in a closet. Far as I know, it still works, and I still have most of the games.

      When Intellivision first came out, I worked for the company that repaired them. (We also repaired the Colecovision.) Those controllers were a NIGHTMARE, always failing, although mine behaved perfectly.
  • by beta-guy (715984) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @11:27AM (#14606947)
    I've played lots of gaming platforms and I have to say that, I perfer the original Nintendo controller it was very simple to use, almost an extension of my body while I as playing very little thought had to be done reguarding what buttons to push, also it had alot of control. nowadays you have 1 joy stick that control the camera view and another that control the direction your character is heading, then you have and about 8 - 12 more button for more control but you have to consentrate more on what button you pushing... a big differant from the day is arrow keys, start select, and those great A and B buttons
    • The learning curve is just a little bit steeper.

      I grew up on the NES, and due to an incredible cheapness on my parents' parts, my brothers and I played NES until the time of the N64. It was a great system, and a great controller yes. The controller was very easy to use (impossible to break,I have holes in my wall to prove it), and once you develope the right hand sideways grip, a natural extension of the body.

      But newer systems (with decently designed games) can have the same feel on natural extension. I pla
    • Part of the problem may be that you have gotten older as well and your reflexes just ain't what they used to be. Set a 10 year old up with a 10 button controller and they will probably learn it almost as quick as you learned the 2 button one. At least that's what I tell myself when my 8 years younger brother owns me over and over again at mario kart,etc.
  • by Psykechan (255694) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @11:29AM (#14606958)
    There are many systems' controllers missing from that list; no Colecovision, Jaquar, Tubografx 16, or any handheld.

    For something that talks about the "evolution" of controllers, they could of at least listed paddles and light guns; two staples of controllers from yesteryear.

    This isn't complete by a long shot and it certainly isn't front page worthy.
    • For something that talks about the "evolution" of controllers, they could of at least listed paddles and light guns; two staples of controllers from yesteryear.

      Oh, come off it. The only thing anyone will tell you about light gun games of yesteryear is 'I always wished I could shoot that damn dog.' I've seen some reasonable arcade games using light guns, and I'll grant that I've had good times with a Dreamcast, a copy of House of the Dead and playing both players at once with a light gun in each hand, goin

      • Oh, come off it.

        He's right about paddles though. From arcades, to the Apple II, to the Atari 2600, paddle controllers were a staple. And look at all the classic games tied to paddles--Pong and Breakout for starters--and that paddles served as steering wheels for home driving games (like Night Driver).
  • by mendaliv (898932) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @11:29AM (#14606961)
    This article skips an awful lot of consoles. Where the heck is the Atari Jaguar [wikipedia.org] controller? Or the Atari 7800 [wikipedia.org] for that matter? Colecovision [wikipedia.org] and Intellivision [wikipedia.org] are also MIA, though their controllers don't look all that different from other systems of their era.

    We're missing the TurboGrafx 16 [wikipedia.org], the Neo-Geo [wikipedia.org], the Sega Master System [wikipedia.org]... and quite a few others.
    • None of the systems you linked had innovative controllers, and can therefore be ignored. Of course, some of the newer consoles that were mentioned (Xbox... Playstation...) don't have innovative controllers either, and could also have been left out.
      • No innovative controller???

        The Intellivision controller comes neutral towards the player being left or right handed, as the control disc (which recognizes 16 directions, unlike the later 'crosses' of nintendo) is in the middle of the controller, and the two side buttons are present on both sides. It also comes with a numeric pad on top of the disc, which is designed so that you can insert a game-provided plastic card over it. Hence, games can use up to 12 additional buttons, and provide graphical icons to t
    • There is a lot wrong with this article. The original PS controller was innovative in the fact that it was the first to use the oh so comfortable PS controller shape. The innovation in the DualShock2 was the analog buttons, not the analog stick which was the whole point of the DualShock 1. And a lot of less notable favorites were skipped.

      Though not really innovative, I liked my 3DO controller a lot, it was the perfect combination of SNES and Genesis controllers. Genesis shape, and ABC buttons, the SNES's
    • This article skips an awful lot of consoles. Where the heck is the Atari Jaguar controller?


      The author obviously counldn't find enough information on the Atari Jaguar. I guess both of the owners were unavailable for comment.

    • Also missing from this discussion is any non-stock, third party controller.

      Yes, the Atari joystick sucked, and was the same stick also used on several computers (Commodore Vic-20, 64, 128, Amiga, and, of course, all Atari computers) and some other game systems (could be used with ColecoVision, for instance) and was a de facto standard at the time.

      That said, you could buy third-party controllers from a number of sources. I liked the SunCom TAC-2 joystick, because it was super-reliable, and it had some s

      • Actually Wico made a whole line of controllers. There were several versions of their joystick, a keypad controller, etc.

        Also, I have to disagree about the Atari joystick. I love the Atari joystick. I would rather use it than any other controller ever made.
        • Actually Wico made a whole line of controllers. There were several versions of their joystick, a keypad controller, etc.

          Yes, they sure did. The one I mentioned was the top of the top, the best of the best, yada yada yada. I actually didn't like their smaller sticks because they had too much swing for their size. The SunCom TAC-2 was just flat-out predictable and dependable. It also rocked for speed games like Track and Field. (I never had an Atary 2600, BTW, I did all of my gaming on C-64, C-128 an

  • The original Playstation controller, it fit my hand, and I found it intuitive. I found it so nice I bought a PC version from Gravis

    SNES controller - again I liked the fit of the unit.
  • Semi dupe (Score:4, Informative)

    by Evro (18923) <evandhoffmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @11:32AM (#14606973) Homepage Journal
    A nice VG controller "family tree": http://www.axess.com/twilight/console/ [axess.com]

    Previous Slashdot blurbs on the subject of controller evolution:

    http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/09/ 1559252 [slashdot.org]
    http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/09/14/ 068200 [slashdot.org]
  • Aren't we forgetting (Score:3, Informative)

    by shoolz (752000) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @11:32AM (#14606974) Homepage
    The article sure does a time-warp and goes directly from Atari to NES. What about the multiple variations of Colecovision controllers [vidgame.net] and Intellivision controllers [vidgame.net]?
  • by THESuperShawn (764971) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @11:33AM (#14606983)
    Remember the Commodore 64 joystick? It was basically the Atari 2600 joystick but with a triangular "stick". The button was mouted in the center (instead of off to the side) making you reach around further to push it. This thing had carpal tunnel written all over it! My hands would ache after just a few minutes of playing. I think I have permanant scars from that thing- or maybe those are from that other hand/eye coordination building technique I learned a year or two later.... Image available at http://www.geocities.com/big_al_1401/c64joy.jpg [geocities.com]
  • Poorly researched. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by operagost (62405) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @11:38AM (#14607014) Homepage Journal
    This article could have been slapped together in a day. "The joystick only had eight directions, so in technicality [sic] it wasnt an analog joystick." Yes-- because it was a DIGITAL joystick as the author pointed out earlier! Then he says the 5200 joystick had 360 degrees of motion! So did the 2600, it just output in only eight directions by using four switches. The 5200 joystick may have been a 16-direction model, at best, but it certainly was not a 360. And the NES controller was also 8-way, not 4-way as described in the model or diagonal movement would have been impossible. Overall, the level of writing in this article is childish and chaotic.
    • The 5200 joystick may have been a 16-direction model, at best, but it certainly was not a 360.

      The 5200 had an analog stick (with no centering and poorly-designed potentiometer rails that made diagonal movements irregular). Are you thinking of the Intellivision's 8-switch, 16-directional digital stick?

      The console bias means that all the analog controllers of home computers are ignored by this article. The original IBM PC joystick interface, the one that musicians hung their MIDI interfaces off of in the da
  • The most intersting part of the evolution of video game controllers is what they came up with just before and during the 2600 era. Paddles used to be the standard controller design back when all home systems had some derivation of Pong on them. The Fairchild system had a very interesting controller with a directional stick on top and a stick as the base. The Astrocade also had a similar controller layout. The Telstar arcade was also pretty unique with the Steering Wheel, gun, and paddles all on one unit
  • by Steve525 (236741) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @11:47AM (#14607091)
    I can't say much about the article, do to a slashdotting. I will take this opportunity to spot off on how much I really think thumbpads are a step backwards from the joystick. I pretty much stop playing console games once the Nintendo became king, because I found the gamepad so frustratingly hard to control. You might think is was lack of experience. However, once computer games came along, I picked up controlling with a keyboard (or the keyboard mouse combination) just fine.

    Of course this is just one person's view, and commercial success has proved me wrong. I'm sure many people like the thumbpad controllers better, but I'm not one of them (and I'm not sure I understand why). I will point out that thumbpad controllers do have some pratical advantages. They are certainly cheaper and more compact.
  • by Dzimas (547818) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @11:51AM (#14607117)
    [As an aside...] My retro tech book includes chapter on vintage videogaming from the 1970s and 1980s. You can download the chapter free from here: http://tinyurl.com/8bqdy/ [tinyurl.com] [retrothing.com]

    The list should start with Ralph Baer's dual-knob analog design for the original Magnavox Odyssey (one for controlling the paddle, one for the ball's English). It'd be fun to include Atari Pong and a Coleco Telstar unit, too. Anyone remember the triangular Telstar Arcade with the steering wheel, light gun, and paddles? Now that was cool.

    Other nifty stuff from the Seventies... the slightly odd Magnavox 2 and Fairchild Channel F. And from the Eighties, what about the famed Tac 2 controller that accompanied so many Commodore 64s? Or the Intellivision/Colecovision/Vectrex. Almost like the list was written by a teenager who doesn't know how to Google.

  • Sure, the left prong was useless, but the asymmetry of holding the middle and right ones actually felt a lot more comfortable than a normal controller. I was sad to see only two prongs on every controller since.
  • by Caspian (99221) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @12:00PM (#14607183)
    The article made it sound like the Dual Shock 2 was when they first standardized on having the 'rumble'/vibration feature. This is untrue. The original Dual Shock was that (hence the name-- it had two different vibrating motors. (Commence jokes here.))

    Also, the "you can push down on the sticks for another two buttons" feature, I believe, first appeared in Dual Shock 1, not 2.

    Furthermore, they left out the fact that on the Dual Shock 2, the four buttons (triangle, square, circle, X) are velocity/pressure-sensitive. In other words, games can (if they are programmed to do so) tell how hard you pushed the buttons. This feature isn't used in too many games, but oddly, my copy of Kingdom Hearts seems to NOT BOOT without a Dual Shock 2 (a Dual Shock 1 will not do), and I believe some games in the "fighting" genre use the velocity sensitivity...
    • Metal Gear Solid 3 uses the "analog" function of the pushbuttons for CQC. The problem is that to do anything interesting, you need to tap the circle button and hold it down to grab the enemy...but mash it too hard, and instead of grabbing the enemy, you slit his throat straight away. I still have trouble with the distinction, which is why I just tranq the bad guys and get it over with...
    • on the Dual Shock 2, the four buttons (triangle, square, circle, X) are velocity/pressure-sensitive

      Is it velocity-sensitive, or pressure-sensitive? The two are not equivalent.

      A velocity-sensitive button has two switches at the ends of its travel range. By measuring the time between state changes of the two switches, it can be calculated how fast the button was pressed (or released), but once pressed, no pressure fluctuation is available.

      Pressure-sensitive buttons use a single switch barrier that varies in
    • >Furthermore, they left out the fact that on the Dual Shock 2,
      > the four buttons (triangle, square, circle, X) are
      >velocity/pressure-sensitive. In other words, games can (if they are programmed to
      > do so) tell how hard you pushed the buttons. This feature isn't used
      > in too many games,

      The arrow pad is also pressure-sensitive.

      All these are definitely used in GT3/GT4. In fact, using the pressure sensitivity on the throttle is vital in some parts of the game. If you don't use it y
  • Turbo-button controllers came out WAY before the SNES. I specifically remember the NES Max and the NES Advantage, and there were probably ones before that too.
  • First off, I do think Nintendo HAS historically been at the forefront of meainstreaming new controller design, from D-pads to Shoulder buttons to crosspad-aranged regular buttons to analog sticks and analog triggers.

    But the bias here is funny, Atari gets bashed for not being "really analog" (duh) in the first generation and only having 8 directions, but Nintendo gets praised for bringing, which while probably an improvement in comfort and some responsiveness, really has about 4 directions, not even 8...
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @12:06PM (#14607236) Homepage
    I only read through the 8-bit NES controller before I gave up.

    The Atari 2600 joysticks were actually damn good joysticks. There were plenty of knockoff and lookalike joysticks in the aftermarket that sucked, but the actual Atari-manufactured joysticks were of superb quality. They were durable and lasted through years and years of heavy use and abuse. The reviewer probably took some 30 year old worn out third-party sticks and tried them out for 10 minutes before determining that they were inferior.

    The NES cross pad was hardly looked at as an improvement at the time. Gamers accepted it because it worked well enough, and it did grant a master very fine control over his game character, but it was less comfortable for long playing than holding a joystick. It was cheaper to manufacture, and due to the lesser stresses involved in the design (the joystick is a lever which magnifies the force applied to the sensors the longer the stick is) and it was smaller and lighter and could be manufactured more cheaply.

    The article confuses "analog" and "digital", claiming that the Atari 2600 joystick was not "analog" "because it only had 8 directions". Analog has nothing to do with how many directions, and everything to do with whether you have discrete states or a continuum of potential states in the joystick's range. On a digital stick, you're either applying force in a direction or you're not. On an analog stick, the degree to which your stick is pushed toward the extreme end of the stick's range of motion determines just how "hard" or "fast" you're pushing in that direction.

    Modern analog sticks are horrible compared to true joysticks of days gone by. Give me something I can wrap my entire hand around, not some wimpy little "hat" stick controller that I have to diddle with my thumb. The current generation consoles largely suck to play in their standard configuration because they don't give the user a flightstick type control, and the button layouts on flightstick type controls are not well laid out for most types of games outside of flight simulation.
    • Behold the mighty Saitek X52 [saitekusa.com] joystick system.

      As well as looking really cool, it's also a really high quality input device. I mostly use it for flight simulators; the difference between it and my previous Logitech Wingman was like night and day.

      The most notable difference is that the X52 uses optoelectronic position sensors. These are stunningly accurate, never jitter, and provide perfectly linear response.

    • The author of that review does not understand the fundamental geometry of movement. In 3 dimensions, motion can be decomposed into 3 translational directions and 3 rotational ones. The attempted comparisons involving 360 degrees versus 8 directions are stupid.
    • The Atari 2600 joysticks were actually damn good joysticks.

      Hell yeah! I used Atari joysticks up thru my Amiga years. They may not have been fancy but they were durable and a design of joystick I was use to. I still have one that's never been used in an original Atari package with a pricetag from K-Mart on it. It sits on one of my book shelves in respect to a great gaming controller.

      Infact, the Atari joystick was probably the only control I used to any great length. I seen tons of the "fighter jet" type o
    • This is one thing that always bugged me. I first started out on Atari, then got an NES, and I never did like gamepad controls. So I bought an NES advantage. It was an awesome, very durable arcade stick. Once I outgrew my NES, and bought an Amiga 600 in high school, I took apart the NES Advantage and soldered on an Amiga joystick wire to it, I still have it to this day, and use it every once in a great while when I pull out my A600 or NES.

      I never have found such an Arcade stick for the PC, I've been look
    • The Atari 2600 joysticks were actually damn good joysticks. There were plenty of knockoff and lookalike joysticks in the aftermarket that sucked, but the actual Atari-manufactured joysticks were of superb quality. They were durable and lasted through years and years of heavy use and abuse. The reviewer probably took some 30 year old worn out third-party sticks and tried them out for 10 minutes before determining that they were inferior.

      The design of the Atari 2600 joysticks changed dramatically in about 1

    • >The article confuses "analog" and "digital",
      >claiming that the Atari 2600 joystick was not "analog" "because it only had 8 directions".

      So was the atari joystick analog or not? I doubt it. I know it was right-handed though.

      > The NES cross pad was hardly looked at as an improvement at the time.

      For some reason it's on the left side.

      As far as I can tell from browsing arcade images, most arcades prior to 1985 had two sets of buttons on each side of the joystick. Look at the the Atari 2600 joystick,
  • Turbografx-16/PCE (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheZorch (925979) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .hcrozeht.> on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @12:53PM (#14607776) Homepage
    The TG-16/PCE is such an underrated game system. I personally believe it was released too late to make a difference in the market. The system dethroned the Famicom (Japanese NES) from its top spot in Japan with its improved graphics, sound and CD-ROM capabilties. It was the first console that did anti-aliasing.

    The controller wasn't revolutionary in the least. It was a two button NES/Famicom look-a-like with a D-Pad, but it was the first controller bundled with a console to have dual turbo-fire selectors. This isn't a major advance, I believe the most significent advancement in game controller design is analog joysticks, as well as button velocity sensors, button presseure sensors, and motion sensors (I've heard the Dual Shock 2 has this feature, and the Revolution's controller will definitely have it). The other major innovation is reliable RF style (non-IR) wireless controllers. Logitech's PS2 wireless controller isn't IR like other wireless game controllers. It works via an RF frequency so if somebody moves in front of the console you don't loose control of the game and you have a longer range than IR permits. The 40 hour battery life is significent also because RF wireless devices, especially wireless mice, have a notoriously short battery life.

    Reducing the number of cords and cables used to clutter your living room up is a major plus for the next-gen systems, in my honest opinion.
  • Terrible article. It says about the Playstation pad:
    "Nothing was truly different with the controller from its predecessors" when in fact the playstation pad was a revolution in pad design. There was a definite "what the hell is that?" in your mind when you first saw it and the chunky palm grips have been copied by pretty much all other pads since.

    Anyway,from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, the C64, Amiga, and other home computers were the breeding ground of controller design. Consoles came with pads because t

  • A much better examination of the evoltuion of the controller is Sock Master's Video Game Controller Family Tree (http://www.axess.com/twilight/console/ [axess.com]). Instead of just hilighting the heavyweights like the story article does (what, no Master System controllers? What about the original Genesis controller?), Sock Master's chart is more diverse, showing who borrowed what from who.
  • I think it's pointless to have an article covering the evolution of game controllers then including a controller we don't know much about and know even less about how it's really going to be used.

    And that's not to mention that this article talks about "evolution" but then presents controllers which are all essentially the same exact thing but merely molded to different shapes and sizes. The most different controllers are the Atari 2600 and 5200 designs and whether those are evolutionary designs is questiona
  • by HunterZ (20035)
    Aside from the controllers not mentioned, I have several other issues with the article:
    - I don't think the Sega Genesis controller pictured is the original one included with the Genesis, nor is it even the original 6 button one. Also, the original Genesis controller had only four buttons (Start, A, B and C).
    - They failed to mention how absolutely crappy the N64 controller is. I've never met ANYONE who found it comfortable. Unless you have three hands, you can't reach all the controls. The ones I could reach
    • >They failed to mention how absolutely crappy the N64 controller is. I've never met ANYONE who found it comfortable.

      The N64 controller started making the buttons different shapes and sizes, for example the small yellow camera buttons that would have been full-sized on anyone else's system. Thereby making the controller perfect for Mario64 and useless for SF/MK/KI (did N64 even release any fighting games?) The next step was the GameCube controller, which made so little sense that I put it down after 20
  • Cripes.. how many times do we have to hear about the Revolution being an evolution of a game controller?!

    Cut it out already! We get it, okay?!
  • Give me a good ol' CH Products Mach series joystick for the Apple II. Those things were indestructible... even the Flightstick Pro, with its user-configurable buttons (and, get this, customizable acceleration curve)... runs circles around the just-adequate crap Nintendo and these other "game console" makers have put out.
  • Under the Atari 2600 section: Lastly with all the problems that plagued the controller, the absence of a pause button only made it worse, when the joystick stopped working, you couldnt even pause the game.

    WHAT pause button? As I recall, there was no pause button on the console either. Good grief - we're talking about a 2600 here. There was no pausing PERIOD back then.

    Its a shame that fact checking is SOOOO expensive these days.
  • The article is very biased towards nintendo. I found the n64 controller very awckward and bought a playstation instead. Having to hold your two wrists at different angles pointed funny really made my hands sore if I played for any amount of time.

    They were wrong about the dual shock controllers. The first version had vibration. The second version had preasure sensitive buttons. That was very usefull in the metal gear games, gt4 etc..

    Personally looking forward to their next controller. The nunchuck thin

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