What would a video game be without a controller? Well, sort of like a movie, I imagine.
No matter how high a frame rate or how visually stunning a game is, there’s no chance of being fully immersed into a game’s world without a comfortable, responsive control scheme. In our never ending quest to find the best way to play, we decided to count down what we consider the best 1st party gaming controllers of all time.
5) SNES Controller
Besides the inclusion of analog sticks, this tried-and-true controller has been the blueprint for nearly all of the modern gaming controllers today. Its four action buttons, firm and non-edgy shape (we’re looking at you, NES Controller), and innovative R and L trigger buttons represented a huge leap forward from previous controllers made by competitors and Nintendo themselves.
4) Dualshock 1/2/3 Controller
This is another controller that, much like those that followed in the footsteps of the SNES, represented an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality. Originally introduced midway through the PS1’s lifecycle in 1998 and left nearly unchanged for 15 years as its design was re-used for both the PlayStation 2 and 3, this controller is no doubt recognized and remembered fondly by millions of gamers.
3) New 3DS XL
The New 3DS XL surprised me in its overall completeness as a game controller. So often handheld systems are lacking in one thing or another; too few action buttons, no analog sticks. Other times they are just plain oddly shaped or uncomfortable. Fortunately, the New 3DS XL avoids both of those issues by being a firm, nicely weighted system with as many buttons as you’d find on a home console’s controller. And for that it deserves some recognition.
Now if only a few more games utilized all those wonderful buttons…
2) Xbox 360 controller
For everything nice one can say about the Dualshock family, there was no debate that during the PS3 vs. 360 era of the console wars, the 360 had the leg-up in the controller category. Wonderfully ergonomic, comfortable triggers, and that swapped D-pad/ left analog layout oh-so-reviled by Sony players all made for an exceptional controller that felt so right.
1) GameCube Controller
If comfort is the major qualifier for a great controller, then look no further than the Nintendo GameCube’s offering. Unlike the N64’s controller where we all awkwardly fumbled trying to figure out how to hold the thing, the GameCube controller just clicked, instantly fitting in your hands like a glove.
There’s a reason Super Smash Bros. players keep wanting to use this insanely ergonomic controller to play every new iteration since Melee – it’s simply the best.
Those were the best 1st party controllers of all time, but what about the worst? You can find this list’s evil twin brother, “The Worst 1st Party Controllers in Gaming History” over at geekpr0n.com by clicking right here.