Top 10 Video Game Controllers Of All Time

by Ben Salter Featured 37 Comments 46 Votes 8903 Views 06/07/2012 Back to Articles

Do you like video game controllers? Us too! Below we count down from ten to one (yes, an actual countdown) the best video game controllers of all time.

And no, the keyboard and mouse were not considered, as we only looked at console controllers.

10. Nintendo 64 Controller


Why it was loved: The Nintendo 64 was amazing in 1997 for one reason: GoldenEye. Sure, it was substantially improved by everything released after it, but we were young, and it was totally futurist and 3D!

Why it was hated: Looking back, it was rubbish. Mario Party ruined everyone’s dodgy joysticks, and the outlying D-Pad was as useless as a hunchback in a limbo contest.

9. Wireless Guitar Hero Gibson


Why it was loved: Credit where credit’s due: the Guitar Hero series of controllers revolutionised the musical simulation genre. There was a time when such games could only be played in arcades. Guitar Hero brought it to the masses in the comfort of their own homes, and peaked with the wireless Gibson design that accompanied Guitar Hero III.

Why it was hated: The red button on my controller doesn’t work anymore; it is totally useless. I fear this was a common problem. The Guitar Hero craze has since passed like cheap Indian food, as gamers realise they can learn how to play real guitar.

8. Wii Remote


Why it was loved: Say what you want about the Wii Remote, but there’s no denying that it simplified video game control and brought the medium to a whole new generation of casual gamers. Grandmas around the globe love pwning their grandchildren in some vicious rounds of Wii Tennis.

Why it was hated: OMG we can totally fight with lightsabers! Six years on, and that never even came close to fruition. The Wii Remote didn’t live up to its pre-release hype. Then there was MotionPlus.

7. Mega Drive (Genesis) 6 Button Controller


Why it was loved: SEGA fixed every hate crime against controllers in one foul swoop. At the time, the Mega Drive controller was perfect. It was further improved in 1993 with the release of the 6 button model, designed for fighting games. It could revert to “classic” three button mode with the flick of a button.

Why it was hated: It was overshadowed by the superior SNES controller. The three buttons in a line seemed like the perfect control method, until Nintendo birthed four button perfection on the SNES.

6. Atari 2600 Joystick


Why it was loved: For many, the Atari 2600 controller is gaming. It deserves recognition as one of the most iconic, sentimental and nostalgic symbols in video games. While it wasn’t the first home joystick, it was the first to get it right.

Why it was hated: Well, it did only have one button and is associated with shambles that was ET: the worst video game ever released.

5. GameCube Controller


Why it was loved: The GameCube controller was amazing, despite looking more than a little strange. The off-set sticks and complementing shapes of the A and B buttons felt great in your hands, as did the two deep bumpers, even if the Z button was floating in the middle of nowhere. The chunky, but wireless, Wavebird was also a revelation when it was released.

Why it was hated: The D-Pad was too small and not particularly useful.

4. NES Controller


Why it was loved: An easy way to play home console video games. The NES control pad was simple and got the job done. Better yet, these things are indestructible. They still work perfectly after 25 years of manic abuse.

Why it was hated: The rectangle corners did result in some palm stabbings, but that was all the rage in the ‘80s.

3. Xbox 360 Wireless Controller


Why it was loved: After developing one of the worst controllers with the original Xbox, Microsoft bounced back with its second console to create one of the best. Arguably a fusion of the GameCube and PS2 controllers, the Xbox 360 controller is the go to choice for shooters.

Why it was hated: You need to fork out an extra $25 for a play and charge kit; otherwise these things chew through batteries. Why hasn’t the rechargeable battery been inbuilt yet?

2. PlayStation DualShock


Why it was loved: Part of its appeal is how consistent it has been since the first DualShock on the PS1. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Many gamers will argue that it’s the pinnacle of controller design, and for most it is. It’s comfortable and intuitive to use. The DualShock feels at home in your grubby paws, regardless of if your last gaming session was three minutes or three months ago.

Why it was hated: The wire was way too short on the PS2 version, resulting in a great many consoles being catapulted from home entertainment cabinets. Meanwhile, SixAxis was a total flop.

1. Super Nintendo Controller


Why it was loved: The best controller ever made. The SNES controller laid the foundations for everything that would follow it. It refined the D-Pad, introduced the diamond configuration of four buttons -- currently used by all three consoles -- and made us aware of the importance of shoulder buttons.

Why it was hated: It feels a little bit small in adult hands these days and it was never the prettiest piece of kit going around.

By Ben Salter - Bio

What are your favourite controllers?

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Top 10 Video Game Controllers Of All Time Comments

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In my opinion the Duel Shock controller is the best controller "of all time". If the list was on revolutionary controllers, then the SNES controller would be #1
I was scrolling down and if the SNES wasn't number one there would have been blood. Still you missed the all important Dreamcast controller and one of the main reasons the Playstation controller is hated and that's that stupid broken D-pad [Rage] Everything else is great but that D-pad needs to die. The Mega Drive 6 button layout was perfect for fighting games though, everything else the 4 button layout was win.
gc was best so comfy

or playstation for functionality and comfort
GCN is my favourite it was so comfy and easy to use, and was what made me prefer controller gaming. I think the N64 controller was a bit ridiculous though haha.
Sorry Ben, definitely can't say I agree with the order. :(

1. GC control
2/3. SNES / Wii & Chuck, interchangeable order.. I still think Wii Remote & Nunchuck is actually a REALLY comfortable setup, and still has a decent amount of buttons as well as the option of motion control.. on the other hand, the snes control perfected the generic game pad.
4. PS3
5. 360

NES Control and n64 gamepad both to be commended for what they did for gaming input at the time. Neither more so than the other.

I don't think the 2600 arcade stick deserves to be quite as high, it isn't really as practical in home use as some of the third market controllers.

I can't really complain though, now that I think about it, and having written some justification for my beliefs.. it's bloody hard to put them in any order because most controllers have given something new to gaming at times when new life was needed.
Yeah, I agree with SNES controller being no. 1. So much nostalgic memory from playing with that controller. Good times. Top 10 Video Game Controllers Of All Time
GC was originally higher, but vetoed in the office [MOG]
PS:

Kb & m =_=
That silly shoulder button ruins it for me! [Rage]
Xbox360 is my favourite cause I use it for my pc to.. But I like the feel of it. Fits my hands perfect, some of the other controllers give me sore joints
GC needs to be higher.
GC is best controller. *_*
GCN* :)
what about the Colecovision controller.
2 side buttons, full keypad and a knob control at the top.
that was a nice controller.

Oh nice list btw
Dual Shock above the 360 controller? What madness is this?!
Where is the Xbox S controller? GC controller was the most comfortable controller EVER! Also the Dreamcast controller needs to be on this list. :P
lol someone put this to a vote.
For me, the controller Triumvirate is the Xbox 360 controller, the Gamecube Controller and the SNES controller.
the SNES controller was absolutely perfect to use. i love how simple it is set out and it feels great to use.

The N64 had the best layout design IMO though, everything is where it should be on a controller and was great to use, only problem was the cheap joysticks and its shape.
GC controller is grossly overrated. It was utilized for first party software but when it came to FPS, the apparent perfect genre for GC, the schemes were always a little dysfunctional and...hmmm...different to what Xbox offered. Console still had decent third party support though.

360 is a great controller. I still prefer it over DS3 for FPS. But DS3 is great for third-person and racing.
I agree with Guyver, where the hell is the Dreamcast controller?

That controller was basically the inspiration for the Xbox controllers.

Good list (:
LMA0
+
Steel Battalion controller on the XBox, it cost $200, +40 buttons and u need it to play Steel Battlion which is a bi-pedal mech tank sim but was it worth it? F**k yeah! Well only for 1 month. [Derp]
Dogbone NES controller. Top 10 Video Game Controllers Of All Time
That Steel Battalion controller is absolutely boss.

LMA0 said: Steel Battalion controller on the XBox, it cost $200, +40 buttons and u need it to play Steel Battlion which is a bi-pedal mech tank sim but was it worth it? F**k yeah! Well only for 1 month.



Holy crap, that is one hell of a controller [MOG]
good job. the snes is the best controller of all time, it just opened a new way of playing games but one things for sure, I still cramped up with the nes and snes and the only console controllers to ever cause my thumb to cry in pain. Totally agree with most of what you said here.

Got to hand it to Nintendo they really did change the way we played games and created some decent controllers. In saying that, I'm not that fond of all that waggling CRAP and that d-pad on the gc was useless. It's a shame cause it was one of the most comfy controllers I've ever used.

I really like the ps3 controller except I much prefer the way the xbox and the gamecube put the analog sticks. I just cramp up for some reason on those analog sticks. I still haven't found a decent replacement for one for the ps3. Those afteglows are the closest I've come to one except it'd be nice if it had six axis.

That steel battalion controller was epic.

How about myself as a controller. Microsoft likes to think I'm a bit of alright.
100& agree with the 1,2. spent my childhood up to my current age on them

ND88ct said: In my opinion the Duel Shock controller is the best controller "of all time". If the list was on revolutionary controllers, then the SNES controller would be #1



Well said.
I use a wired Xbox 360 controller, simply because it's cheaper to buy and cheaper to use. The cord is 8 or 10 metres I believe.
Super Nintendo controller kicks ass however.
No Sega Saturn pad?
That thing had THE best d-pad ever. Plus why in the hell would you want the battery inbuilt with the 360 pad??? being able to replace them when they die is a plus. Ahh and the Gamecube C stick is horrid, i was trying to play Timesplitters with it the other day and its just too small and fiddly.
the 6 button megadrive controller was and still is the best controller. it brought street fighter 6 buttonism into the home.
>top controllers
>starts with three-handed N64 controller
Yeah, no.

OllyEbbz said: No Sega Saturn pad?
That thing had THE best d-pad ever. Plus why in the hell would you want the battery inbuilt with the 360 pad??? being able to replace them when they die is a plus. Ahh and the Gamecube C stick is horrid, i was trying to play Timesplitters with it the other day and its just too small and fiddly.


BBking said:




Agreed to both.
I personally own a original wingman rumblepad for the pc (USB version, if there even is a gameport), and even though it isn't a console controller, and also has spike-tips on each end that make it somewhat bulky, this controller is actually pretty nice to set up on a lot of games, old and new! =D

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