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Games Entertainment

Top 10 Worst Game Controllers 263

Ant writes "IGN has a top ten list that focuses on some of the brilliantly terrible game controllers that shipped for game systems. Many of these were first-party, out-of-the-box concepts, while others were cash-in ideas from engineers that clearly either didn't have a sense in their noggin, or they simply listened too much to their marketing department. Either way, these controllers are a bad bunch."
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Top 10 Worst Game Controllers

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  • Atari 2600 and NES.

    They are square and painfull!
    • XBOX (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ibentmywookie ( 819547 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:45PM (#14789920)
      I noticed Xbox was listed there, and I will have to agree. But not just because it is big, but because of the buttons! The button layout is awful, and the shape of the buttons hurts my thumb. That, and I can never remember what each button is because they all feel the same. Meh.

      Personally, I like the gamecube controller. The big fat A is easy to find and is the button used most anyway.
      • Re:XBOX (Score:2, Informative)

        by Elemenope ( 905108 )
        It's funny, I've noticed a large number of people complain about the XBox 'sattelite' but I find it very comfortable (as do a fair number of my friends). Then again, I have freakishly large hands, and so that might be a factor... (consequently I dislike most other console controllers).
        • Omg. I guess I'm not the only one. When I got an Xbox, I had to go on eBay to try to find someone selling the original full-sized controllers.

      • Well, as a big fan of the original controller, obviously I don't agree. I never had problems with the button layout and the size was just right IMHO. The slim sized version was worse in every way, but the 360 controller goes a long way of redeeming the flaws of the S controller. If only it were a little bigger... :)
      • Re:XBOX (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You are correct, sir. The original Xbox controller felt like a big, comfy pillow in my hands after a few hours. Because of the size, it was much easier doing dual analog control on the big guy than any other controller.

        But, damn, those BUTTONS?? I've been a guitar player for over 20 years (finger and hand discomfort is something I have a very high threshold for) and the very thought of those things makes me cringe. It makes you wonder how these things get out of r & d and actually mass produced. I
      • Re:XBOX (Score:2, Informative)

        by xtieburn ( 906792 )
        The X-Box controller has to be by far the most overslagged off piece of electronics ever made. (Number 2... of all controllers ever made... absolute rubbish.) Of the people I new that used it (because the majority of the people slagging it off didnt even have an X-Box.) only a few found it too fat. Just about everyone got used to it within a couple of minutes.

        and your right. The worst part of it had nothing to do with its size (which is apparently better for the hands and my brother who has some tendon prob
      • You'll have to PRY my original XBox controller from my COLD DEAD HANDS.

        The original XBox controller is still the best I've ever used. I loathe the S-controller. The reason I don't have a cordless XBox controller is because I haven't found one yet that is the same size and format as the original. And whenever I go over to someone else's house to game, I take my original controllers with me just in case they got one of the wussy new models.

    • Re:Worst two (Score:3, Interesting)

      by maddskillz ( 207500 )
      The NES one really hurt my hands. Not only the corners of the actual controller, but the square d-pad and the buttons would do a number too. yes, I played way too much...
      The 2600 controller was a classic though
    • Re:Worst two (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Destoo ( 530123 ) <destooNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @11:02PM (#14789990) Homepage Journal
      Well, my current signature (and the guy I quoted) disagree. ..the bottom line is if a game is fun, you will play it well past the point where it's causing you physical pain. -Chris

      This means that your hands will adapt to the console you grew up with.. Sometimes artificially. (electric tape on the thumb, anyone?)

      And to answer another comment in the same thread.. Yes. The big A. Forcing third parties to use THAT button as primary button is great. Very intuitive and all.

      But Nintendo.. practice what you preach. That might be one of the reasons the Zelda:TTP demo wasn't too well received (when I tried it, anyway) because that big green A button had NOTHING assigned to it when you start the demo. Must have been used for a device you acquire later in the game.

      • I remember using those with my atari games. those controllers rock! Unfortunately they were also quite fragile. I broke at least three. I wish there was a modern one like it with usb connection.
    • The Atari controllers were easy to use, but they did suffer from cracks in the little plastic thingy inside that translated your moves into making the necessary circuit connections. The best solution for that was to buy the third party WYCO joysticks, which had a top of stick button AND a steel post for the stick as well.
  • Gamecube? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cybert14 ( 952427 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:30PM (#14789846)
    Is that "Z" in the worst position possible or what?
    • >>> Is that "Z" in the worst position possible or what?

      How is it a bad position?

      I think the cube controller's one of the most comfortable.
      • I think that the cube has a wonderful comfortable controller with the exception of that stupid Z button in the worst possible place. The fact that the R button is designed with a lip causes much annoyance while it rubs your index finger raw.

        I think the biggest slap in the face is that SSB:Melee requires the use of the Z button while L and R do the exact same thing with no way of changing it. If that doesn't cause you to curse the Z button then you need to tell the world your secret.
      • Re:Gamecube? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tukkayoot ( 528280 )
        I have to agree that the Z button placement is less than ideal, and I'm an admitted Nintendo fanboy.

        The problem is that your hands naturally settle into the convenient grooves for the L and R buttons when gripping the controller. These buttons almost almost grip your fingers themselves, so they are comfortably settled and you do not want to have to move them while playing the games. There's actually a ridge on the R button that "impedes" your finger's progress towards the Z button if you want to press i

    • Is that "Z" in the worst position possible or what?

      No. All the games that I've played used the Z button for something that wasn't critical to the action like bringing up menus or maps (sure beats reaching over for the start button.) I have one of these controllers sitting right in front of me, and I do have to say that its placement right over the shoulder button really doesn't make it very hard to reach. It's only bad if the designers of a game decide that the shoulder buttons AND the Z-button are to be

      • All the games that I've played used the Z button for something that wasn't critical to the action like bringing up menus or maps

        Never played Super Smash Bros Melee, huh? Normally, I'd agree with you, but this game (a Nintendo first party title!?) mapped "grapple/throw" to the damn thing!

    • No shit.

      I love the Gamecube. I love the games for it. I absolutely despise that Z button. Couldn't it have been under the right middle finger? Then it would actually be easy AND usefull(without having to leave the R flipper).

      Note: I'm a Nintendo Fanboy good as the rest, but I'm not gonna say it's perfect.
    • Re:Gamecube? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Captain Spam ( 66120 )
      Z's definitely in an uncomfortable position on the Gamecube controller, but nine times out of ten, Z isn't a button of drastic importance. Still not a good place for it, but at least it's not needed often.

      But, the other eighty replies already said that. So I'll go a different route; Z was kinda crowbarred onto the controller because, if I'm not mistaken, developers complained that it'd be harder to port PSX/PS2 games if the controller only had two shoulder buttons (L/R, as opposed to L1/L2/R1/R2). Thing
      • The difference between playing any of the first three SSX games on the PS2 and the Gamecube will easily highlight the need for the 4 shoulder buttons. IIRC, the first SSX release on the Gamecube actually had less tricks that one could perform because it lacked the requisite number of buttons to map to them.

        Me, personally, I've loved both the DualShock 2 and the GC controller (Wavebird, in particular).
    • Re:Gamecube? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by WWWWolf ( 2428 )

      Slightly silly placement? Definitely. Worst possible? Hell no.

      At least the games tend to be designed so that you don't need that thing all the time and together with the other shoulder buttons.

      GC controller is still the best controller I've ever had, even with that little silliness.

  • by RobotWisdom ( 25776 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:32PM (#14789859) Homepage
    My nominee was a pseudo-trackball for the Atari 2600, made by Roklan around 1982. Trackballs had been hot for arcade games since Missile Command, but were too expensive for home games. Roklan's 'ball' didn't really roll, though it was designed to look like it did. Instead, it gave the standard 2600 joystick compass-points, via the infinitely non-ergonomic semispherical controller.
  • Nice List, But... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FSWKU ( 551325 )
    The list is on IGN's XBox 360 section. Any bets on wether or not they're going to come out with a "10 Best Controllers" list, with the 360 controller on top?
    • It can't be...
      Joystick perfection was already reached with the collecovision Super Action Controller
      • Actually, joystick perfection was achieved with the NES Advantage.

        Anyone who has ever owned one will agree with me.
        • The problem with the NES Advantage is it only lasted a couple months before it stopped working, even if you barely used it.

        • Actually, joystick perfection was achieved with the NES Advantage.

          I think you misspelled "NES Max" there.

          Seriously, that has to be the best controller of the 8 bit generation - super easy on the hands and the turbo buttons actually let me come in first place in the swimming and running events in Track and Field II. Impossible to do without turbo, IMNSHO.
    • Umm... well, they put the original Xbox controller as the #2 worst controller ever.

      I personally liked the 'fat' controller a million times better than the midget sized one.

      I couldn't stand the button placement of the mini-version. Why oh why did they move the white and black buttons?
  • Touchpad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by owlman17 ( 871857 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:35PM (#14789869)
    Well my notebook's touchpad is terrible in quake and RTS games, unless I'm playing against a newbie. Even Minesweeper takes a huge performance hit.
    • Re:Touchpad (Score:3, Funny)

      by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
      Dude, the touchpad gives you bragging rights when playing FPS. "You just got owned by a touchpad mouse!" Extremely humiliating...
  • Gyromite (Score:3, Informative)

    by ScaryMonkey ( 886119 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:42PM (#14789903)
    ROB the Family Robot? I think that should have made the cut.
  • I'm suprised this even made the list. I find the original XBox controler QUITE comfortable; granted, I do have large hands, but it's also gotten rave reviews from people with small hands. Most of the griping I've heard about it is that they prefer the smaller, newer version instead, but placing the Xbox controler amongst such monstrosities as the Sega Activator seems like an excessive attack on the Xbox or Microsoft in general.
    • I really liked the original controller too...but I too have big hands
    • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @11:21PM (#14790088) Homepage
      They had to have something modern, and the Game Cube would have been a really controversial choice.

      The Xbox launching with that thing was pretty controversial. It was like someone had taken a regular controller and stung it repeatedly by bees, and was taken as a sign that Microsoft didn't know what it was doing. It was also symbolic of how generally huge the Xbox was.

      The bead buttons were also quite uncomfortable for unaccustomed hands. I tested with that thing for a few weeks, and the divot in my right hand was pronounced and painful. They didn't have the tactile feedback, they were too "slick," and they dug into your fingers in odd ways. Thankfully the Type-S controller fixed these problems.

      It also had too much of an inward curve, leading to a slightly ackward arm position, though that could just be from years of practicing on other controllers. Still, it always felt like it was going to slip in towards you.

      The thing about a small controller is that anyone can hold it, and more importantly there are a myriad of subtly different ways that you can hold your hand and still have it be comfortable. You can hold it elbows out, elbows at your side. You can ride your hands up so that you're closer to the top buttons, or you can slide down towards the lower sticks. You can rest so low on a PS2 controller that you can hardly reach the top buttons. You can engulf the thing with your entire hand, wrapping your pointer fingers around it like claws.

      With a large controller, there is only one way to hold it and still have your hands reach the buttons in a usable fashion. Like the Jaguar, if that happens to be the way you hold the controller, then it will work great for you. And if it isn't, you're not going to be able to come to a compromise with the controller. That's why most successful controllers don't have finger grooves... exactly where the player puts their fingers varies by person. It may feel wonderful to the developer, but put it in the hands of someone with a slightly different bone structure and it is downright torture.

      Strangely enough I always found the Jaguar controller just right for my hands, though the buttons needed to be raised from the surface about 2 millimeters and given a smoother activation pressure. But everyone else I've given that thing to was deeply uncomfortable, and could never figure out a way to hold it that was right for them.

    • I hate to say it but the Xbox controller was probably the number one reason why I got back into console gaming. For years after the SNES I never touched a console, mostly due to lack of funds (I was a teen at the time). Junior year of college, my friend got one and we played halo forever. Personally, I think Halo is a mediocre or average game at best as far as FPS's go. However, the control scheme of the Xbox was just so similar to the SNES that I almost picked it up immediately. In fact, if you think
  • TI-99 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stevesliva ( 648202 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:50PM (#14789937) Journal
    The controller wasn't bad, actually. Indestructable and not oversensitive. Or maybe it was undersensitive and that's why I always sucked at arcade games. Too much TI-99 time. Alpiner, TI Invaders, great stuff.
  • PowerGlove only #7?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DiamondLOD ( 949171 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:59PM (#14789974)
    The power glove was #7 and the intellivision disc was #4??? The intellivision controller was great for lots of games. I wasted more of my life on Discs Of Tron and Treasure of Tarmin than probably any other games (except maybe MOO2).

    I actually bought that flaming piece of garbage power glove back in the day, and it simply DID NOT WORK. The intellivision disk worked, as did the XBox fat controller (although it stank on ice).

    How about the 2nd generation Thrustmaster joysticks? Remember the ones that needed a driver that soaked up so much high memory that even with memory managers you couldn't possibly run any good games in DOS? That definitely should have made the list.

    I was also hoping that the mouse would make the list. I've always hated using a mouse for game controls.

    So if those are the 10 worst, what are the ten best? The Logitech wireless PS/2 controller? The Microsoft rotating flight stick? Funny enough, I'd say the Intellivision disk...

    • The power glove was #7 and the intellivision disc was #4??? The intellivision controller was great for lots of games. I wasted more of my life on Discs Of Tron and Treasure of Tarmin than probably any other games (except maybe MOO2).

      I'm with you -- the Intellivision controller doesn't belong on that list. Sure it was different from what we're used to today, but in general, it worked quite well. So much so that my Intellivision still works just fine, all these decades later.

      My only complaint about it w

    • I think they got the list backwards. If you reverse the order, you put Power Glove at #4 behind the 5200, the U-Force, and the Turbo Touch. That's about where it belongs. At least the power glove could play its pack-in game decently. The other 3 couldn't play a single game decently.
  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:59PM (#14789977)
    I'm sorry any device in which to shoot you had to say "FIRE!" into a microphone was just plain lame. I can't imagine playing Contra or Laser Invasion (the only game to support this contraption) this way..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laserscope [wikipedia.org]
    • Actually any noise would set it off, so if you could make a small but sharp ticking noise like I could rapid fire was within your grasp.

      Not that it ever helped with clay pigeons...
  • XBox Fat (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Braedley ( 887013 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @11:00PM (#14789978)
    I actually like the original version over it's smaller sibling. I found it much more comfortable to play Halo with (which is all I ever really played as it was on a friends system). I found the "handles" on the small weren't long enough to fill out my hands. Similarly, I have the same complaints about the PS/PS2 and N64 controlers.
    • Re:XBox Fat (Score:3, Informative)

      by RexRhino ( 769423 )
      The fat controllers were actually the selling point on the Xbox for me. Most game controllers are just too small for my hands.
    • Re:XBox Fat (Score:3, Informative)

      by RESPAWN ( 153636 )
      I'm with you on that one, man. I just finally bought my own XBox (I always had ready access to others before now, so I had no reason to buy one) and I hate the fact that I cannot seem to find a fat controller. I used to just deal with it, but after about 30 minutes of playing Forza, my hands really start to cramp since the handles don't seem to be long enough for my hands. I always liked the fat controller better, but was able to deal with the small controller until I started playing racing games. I wis
  • by faedle ( 114018 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @11:05PM (#14790007) Homepage Journal
    Okay, now there's a lot of things you could have said about the Jaguar, but to dis the controller just seems.. petty.

    First off, the Jaguar controller was the first controller I ever used that was comfortable for me (who has larger hands) to hold. I could grab the controller firmly, and actually play Tempest 2000 for a few hours without having hand cramps.

    And, what the hell is wrong with them just automatically saying "it has a phone keypad, therefore it sucks?" I thought the phone keypad with overlays thing was at least a good idea on paper, and the Jaguar controller was a good effort. Bad Atari for not giving you a place to store the overlays..

    Anyway, they dis this controller, and there's no "hate" for the original Commodore VIC joystick?
  • by John Courtland ( 585609 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @11:06PM (#14790010)
    Finally, I find that someone else feels the pain I felt as a child, trying to play "Parsec" and "The Attack" with that junk heap. It got to the point where I would turn the thing upside down and dig the handle into the carpeting. Then, in order to move, I'd put my weight into the direction opposite the one I wanted to go to make it work. Sad. By comparison, the 2600 controller (another shit heap) was a DiVinci masterpiece.
    • We were playing something on it, and my dad just snapped the stick off. So he turned around and broke the other one.

      He then created a patch cable so we could use our Atari 2600 joysticks with the TI. Because they were THAT MUCH BETTER. (And eventually, as I mentioned in another comment, we eventually replaced them with third party steelpost joysticks.)
  • The first product from the the engineers who developed the Amiga was the Joyboard [atariage.com]. It had to be more difficult to use than a lot of the things on their list. And it inspired the "Guru Meditation Error" of the early Amiga OS.

  • by wvitXpert ( 769356 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @11:11PM (#14790040)
    The Wavebird controller for Gamecube would be my vote for best controller if not for the 'z' button. Other than that it kicks PS, xbox, and N64 controller's butts.
  • by jvmatthe ( 116058 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @11:17PM (#14790071) Homepage
    The stuff about the Jaguar controller just smacks of ignorance. It's like a piece of videogame folklore that, true or not, people repeat over and over.

    In particular:
    - Nothing wrong with a numeric keypad or overlays. They were actually helpful, for crying out loud, and allowed for truly complex games like Iron Soldier

    - As a proud Jaguar owner, I never got the impression that Atari was fishing for the Mortal Kombat krowd. They only had *two* fighting games, for crying out loud, and three if you include the Jaguar CD (which came much later).

    - The connectors were not loose. I own one that I stepped on, and even with some of the plastic cuff missing, it still stays in the controller port just fine. I've *never* had one fall out.

    It's just idiotic bashing, and it displays the kind of ignorance that passes muster at places like IGN.
    • I agree. I've never used a Jaguar (Almost got one when they were on closeout), but the controller looks like the only problem (to some people) with it would be the number pad. But since it looks like it's in a non-obtrusive place, it probably wouldn't make the controller bad. Like if the PS2 controller had a piece of plastic jutting out of the bottom. You don't really notice it, it'd be ugly, but wouldn't make it a bad controller.
  • by Mr_Tricorder ( 910543 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @11:21PM (#14790087)
    The prototype for the controller contained a washer in the joystick that was necessary for it to center automatically. However, sometime before mass production, someone removed the washer from the prototype and all of the controllers were mass-produced without it.
  • As much as I hate to talk smack about anyone or anything with such an awesome name, I'm going to have to submit ROB [wikipedia.org].
    • From the article:
      The R.O.B. functions by recieving commands via optical flashes from a television screen.

      Heh. So that explains the seizure inducing flashes you always see in Pokemon and Anime stuff.
  • Eternal Champions [sega-16.com] always struck me as the game series that SEGA created just in case they never got Street Fighter II. I liked both games in the series, but I thought the sequel (Eternal Champions CD) was the better game. I think one of the big reasons why was the Activator. See, all the special moves had to be able to be activated by the Activator, so they mostly ended up being charge moves. (Why, oh why, did they saddle this game with the Activator?!? Can you imagine a family buying two Activators
  • I see that the Atari 5200 controller made #10. And that the Intellivision controller made #4. Where on earth is the original ColecoVision hand controller? Hardware-wise, the things were about as flaky as the 5200's (both wear out far too easily), and in terms of ergonomics, they far surpass the Intellivision's for crapitude.

    Recessed keypad: check. Overlays that get mangled on repeated insertion and removal: check. Uncomfortable "flat-top mushroom" joystick: check. The ColecoVision's hand controllers hav

    • I liked the Colecovision controller :) Unlike the 5200 & Intellivsion controllers, the fire buttons were large and easy to push.

      The obvious miss was the Atari 7800 Controller -- After about 10 minutes of use, your hand will cramp up and you would be in extreme physical pain.
  • When I had a Tandy 1000HX, you couldn't use standard IBM/Apple 2 controllers. So, you had the Tandy analog + 2 button joystick. It had 2 modes, one was full-travel among all directions, the other restricted the movement, moreso for just directional.

    I broke it twice playing some 3/4 perspective ninja game. But some cement and it was good again.

    Yes, the TI-994/A controllers sucked. There wasn't even an indicator on the stick which one was player 1 or 2. I just put a green sticker underneath #2. It required mo
  • by murderlegendre ( 776042 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @12:17AM (#14790333)

    Me: Nobody gives a crap about the Dreamcast.

    You: What do you mean?!

    Me: Did you know that in 2002, Sega landfilled six-million Dreamcast controllers, and one penguin?

    You: A PENGUIN?!?!

    Me: I told you nobody gives a crap about the Dreamcast...

    • Apparently Microsoft liked the Dreamcast controller so much, they stole it. Sure, there's no an X logo where the VMU port used to be, but that's meaningless.

      The VMU, now there's something nobody cared about!
  • TI Controller? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Paul Slocum ( 598127 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @12:26AM (#14790370) Homepage Journal
    The TI controllers actually work pretty well, and they're really reliable too. Maybe a little awkward to hold, but not nearly as bad as the Colecovision controllers! How did those not make the list?
    • Re:TI Controller? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by phillymjs ( 234426 )
      The ColecoVision controller was awesome, what are you talking about?

      I held it in my left hand, my left thumb resting on the left button, my left index finger resting on the right. My right hand used the stick, which I held by wrapping my right thumb and index finger around the circumference of the top. The only part that was a little dodgy was the numeric keypad, because you had to take your hand off the stick for a moment to hit those buttons, or stretch your thumb down awkwardly to hit them. The only prob
  • Spot on (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dreemernj ( 859414 )
    I am saddened by how many of those I owned. Turbo Touch 360 I got for free. Atari 5200 the `rents paid for. U-Force I bought of my own free will -_-, Sega Activator I ended up having, not sure why.

    I was young and inexperienced, I thought "Hey, they're just controllers that are a little different, how bad can they be?" How wrong I was.

    For the record I also had the NeGCon, an NES controller that looked like motorcycle handle bars (that one was actually pretty comfy), a PSX one that looked like a Battara
  • The latest cordless gaming mice from Logitech are horrible too...a catcher's mitt has better ergonomics.
  • Is the "X-Box Fat" the original controller the X-Box came with when they first came out? If so, let me comment.

    I usually don't like controllers with the directional buttons on the left side (like the N64 controller, I had to hold it in a weird way), but I seemed to enjoy the comfort of the X-Box controller. Then again, I think my hands are pretty big anyways.
  • I owned one of these ....

    What looks like a laptop when folded and a Death Star access panel when open is one of the most ridiculous third-party controllers ever conceived. Infra-red beams shot out of this unit's surface and tried to interpret hand motions as controller movements, but did it work? Know anyone who owned this thing? There you go.

    and it sorta worked. If you used the included aircraft controller thingy and didn't move it too quickly then it would respond decently fast. Of course, if you tried to
  • Our first computer was a TRS-80 Color Computer (first-gen gray box, D-board, 16K upgraded to 64K Extended BASIC) and Radio Shack had some simply awful jotsticks for them. The base was about 3" square and 1-1/2" thick. You held these things with a cupped hand; if you tried to hold it along the edges it'd drop out of your hand. The stick part of the controller was about 1-1/2" high, and about as big around as a pencil. They had a bad habit of unscrewing off the base. The joysticks did not self center, wh
  • When it comes to playing a FPS on any console it doesn't matter what machine you're running or their controllers as they all suck. Sometimes it's the game and not the controller that's the problem.

    The Intellivision controller, for example, was included amongst the top ten worst, but there are several Intellivision games that really wouldn't play very well on a joystick or gamepad (yeah, the games were designed for the control disc, I know). I've always hated joysticks but I loved the Intellivison controller

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