Having played a ton of console and computer games, I have of course used a ton of different controllers. This is not so much a listing of the best or even all that I have used, but more of a look at some of the controllers I played the most on and my opinions on them.
This was really the first controller I used a lot. At the time, it was perfect as it worked fine for all the games I was playing on the 2600. However, looking back I realized that sometimes it was hard to really control a game where you needed quick moments. The joystick at an arcade has a locked base so you could really move it around or do the in-between the fingers thing. With this controller, it was not really possible. Once games that had multiple buttons came out this controller was dead to me, but it is a classic no doubt.
This was the controller that started me down my path of console gaming because it was my first D pad controller. I remember trying to get used to it playing Mario and even turning the controller along with my body thinking it would help me maneuver. Once I got used to it I thought this was the best controller ever. That was until I discovered how much more comfortable not having a rectangular controller could be.
Super NES Controller
Still one of my favorites, the SNES controller took what I loved about the NES controller and improved upon it. Not having sharp corners to deal with was much better on the hands especially for those long marathon gaming sessions. The six button controls meant you did not have to worry about missing buttons for games and even the top buttons were easy to reach and use.
Sega Genesis Controller
I was already deep into the NES when I got my Genesis and so I felt their controller was not a good fit. Obviously, it was missing the buttons I was used to, but I did find that I liked the D-pad better, especially for fighting games. On the negative side it felt too big, which could be that they were pushing for the older crowd and calling the SNES the kids system.
I had so many issues with the N64 and the controller was one of them. Seriously, I thought the design was a giant step back; it just seemed big for no reason. Now, having the stick control was nice and from that we got used to it for later consoles including todays, but the button placement seemed like a step backwards as well and that Z button was useless in so many games. I am sure a lot of people liked the controller, but for me I was ready to move on.
Neo Geo Controller
I only knew one person with a Neo Geo and he was that rich kid everyone hated secretly but was friends with him to play with his toys. I liked the button placement of the controller, but that D-pad did not work for me at all. It was more of a analog stick design to me which at the time I was not used too nor ready for, add to that it felt like a Genesis controller, all be it smaller, I just preferred by SNES.
Turbo Grafx-16 Controller
The TG-16 was like owning a sports car in high school. Most people did not have it, but they wanted one and it looked so cool and had cool games like Ninja Spirit. Now the pad itself had a cool look, but again had issues with the button placement and was pretty much a copy of the NES controller but with turbo switches. Another thing that hurt the TG-16 was not only did it only come with one controller, but you needed to buy a turbo tap to use more than one.
This would become my second favorite controller. At first, I felt the extended tips were unnecessary, but later I found it worked for a variety of handling styles and was confortable. The button placement was perfect and worked with all their games and ports. If there was a complaint, it was the D-Pad. I felt for fighting games it was a bad choice, it did not allow for the roll needed for a dragon punch in Street Fighter. Sure, you could play fighting games and get used to it, but if I could but the Genesis D-Pad on this controller, it would be perfection.
Sega Dreamcast Controller
When I saw this, I thought the N64 controller went on an all pizza and Mountain Dew diet and this is what it became. Yes, I understand the little memory card slash game thing that needed to fit inside, but seriously it was way to big even for basketball players. I thought they would sell ad space on the damn thing and then we go back to an older button placement design a bad position for the stick and the D-pad was sub-par. I loved the system, but hated this controller.
Atari Jaguar Controller
I cried when I saw this, it was a mix between the worst of a Sega Genesis controller and a Coleco vision controller. I only played Alien vs Predator on this system and as cool as that game was the controller turned me off big-time. I kept wishing I could remove the telephone pad and just used the controller. However, I did find it funny that instead of a start and select button they used pause and option, it was like they were being different for difference sake and it failed.
This controller worked well for me as I got used to not using the D-pad for everything. While I felt the controller itself was a little too big it had decent button placement and once you learned what the white and black buttons were for it all came together. Again, for advanced fighting games it still felt off, the d-pad was ok, but far from perfect and having the white and black buttons be smaller just made using them in games more of a hassle.
Overall, the 360 controller is still my favorite (sorry PS3 fan boys) I think it is a perfect fit size wise with good button placement a good D-pad and analog stick placement. Now we have a new generation coming down the pipe, let’s see how they do on the controller front.