Games Nintendo PlayStation Xbox

The Best 1st Party Controllers in Gaming History

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

best3The 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

41-1rnqftdl 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 by clicking right here.


  1. It’s weird how game controllers have specific preferences to individuals. For me I probably would of had your list the other way around. Absolutely hated the GameCube controller.

    1. Totally, it’s so weird how these things can feel completely different to other people. For me the GC controller is just the perfect fit.

      But hey, how cool is it that we can talk about it without yelling at each other over who’s objectively right and wrong? 😛

  2. I’m gonna say, the dualshock is the king on my controller list. It fantastic for fighting games, platformers and just feels the best in my hands. The gamecube is second and the xbox controller after that. The xbox controller does have the best triggers out there, though.

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