Top 9 Worst Console Controllers

There have been some great videogame console controllers. Sony’s DualShock, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 controller, and Nintendo’s Super Nintendo pad are some of the most well designed and ergonomic controllers ever.

But not every controller can be a winner. Throughout gaming’s short history, numerous companies have attempted to create controllers for every situation. Some are to merely squeeze a profit out of a niche market, while others try to offer glimpses into the foreseeable future, where bat-shit crazy designers rule the world.

In the spirit of this insane future, I take a look into the past and dig up the shallow corpses of ten truly horrible abominations of plastic.


9) N64 Voice Recognition Unit


N64 hits another one out of the park with our ninth-place terrible controller. When Hey You, Pikachu! was released, it came with this foam-topped demon from hell, the Voice Recognition Unit. It was designed to let you “talk” to Pikachu and live out your wildest Pokémon fan fiction in the comfort of your darker-than-night basement.

A gateway to frustration

A gateway to frustration

The problem was that the microphone never worked. Pikachu only understood key phrases and the mic was built to pick up the higher frequencies of a child’s voice, meaning your deep baritone told the mic to alert the FBI.

Pikachu did respond to “PlayStation,” getting angry and running away when you said it, instantly conveying what you wanted to do when you looked at the VRU.


8) NES Speedboad


The NES Speedboard holds a special place on this list because even though it was released in 1987, the gaming industry is still making this mistake today.

What the fu....

What the fu…..

The Speedboard was a piece of plastic that you placed your NES controller into to allow you to push the buttons faster while playing games like Track and Field. It basically was banking on the idea that kids wouldn’t use their turbo controllers.

NES Speedboard

Designer Pressman would have fooled us all too, if it wasn’t discontinued after a few months because a child was discovered to have tortured his pet with it. So not only does the Speedboard suck, it creates serial killers.


7) Super Controller


Eh, I got nothing. This just depresses me

Eh, I got nothing. This just depresses me 

Bandai’s Super Controller has the great distinction of being the first useless plastic husk ever made, beating the Wii’s plastic junk by about 20 years. The husk snapped over your NES Controller, replacing the D-Pad with an analog stick. So by using this, not only did you make your NES Controller bulkier, you threw in a terrible “analog” stick. I can see the kids screaming as Mario jumps of a cliff because of this crappy thing.


6) LaserScope


As a kid, you probably had a Zapper, even going so far as using it to hunt your cat throughout the house pretending it was a feral beast. No? Only me?

Konami’s LaserScope was created to make the kids with too much money feel superior to the NES Zapper commoners. It was a headset with an infrared scope attached and would “shoot” when you yelled “Fire!”

Now you’re parents can really worry about you

Now you’re parents can really worry about you 

Of course, it never worked like you wanted it to and was a convoluted way to recreate the Zapper. It would have been easier and cheaper to duct tape a light gun to your head and run around into walls.

5) NES Power Glove


Flush any good memories you have of the Power Glove out of your mind, because I guarantee, that shit never existed. You’re just remembering The Wizard, and you are remembering Jackey Vinson declaring his love for the Power Glove because it’s “so bad.”

Flock of seagulls not included

Flock of seagulls not included 

The Power Glove essentially strapped a NES Controller onto the glove and gave you limited motion control. It was bulky, never worked, and made your lower arm and hand smell foul once you took it off. Missed jumps, crashed cars, and constant dying were the norm when you had a Power Glove.

4) Roll & Rocker


Sometimes we can take innovations in the field of controllers for granted. Take the d-pad for instance. While we may complain about the 360’s mushy pad, it’s still an amazing tool when compared to the Roll & Rocker.

This radical image only surpassed by those radical jeans

This radical image only surpassed by those radical jeans

The Roll & Rocker required you to stand on and tilt your body as a substitute for d-pad movement. You could then press the A and B buttons on the NES controller to fully control the character. I use that last sentence lightly, because there was realy no control, just constant ball-punching. A little known fact, the Roll & Rocker came with a phone, so you could call 911 when you broke your neck.

3) R.O.B.


Ahh, R.O.B. R.O.B., or Robotic Operating Buddy, was one of Nintendo’s many attempts to bridge the gap between toy and gaming console in the eyes of the consumer. It was only used in two games, Gyromite and Stack-Up, and it acted as a sort of secondary controller with the player. R.O.B. would stack plastic pieces on a spinner or stack blocks to make things happen on screen.

You may remember R.O.B. fondly and as an integral part of Nintendo’s history. That nostalgia is probably because kids remember R.O.B. as their only friend, keeping them company when Mom was at work and Dad was on a “business trip.”

R.O.B., do you know where daddy went?

R.O.B., do you know where daddy went? 

2) U-Force


Forget Kinect. Forget that future of motion sensing that lets you drop the controller. If you want something really impressive, take a look at Broderbund’s U-Force controller. This thing was the future… back in 1989. It made you the controller and let you control the game by moving your hands, in the designated area, to control your games.

Never has marketing been so right.

Never has marketing been so right. 

This is quite possibly the worst thing sprung on humanity in the history of ever. It’s only surpassed by our number 1……

1) Sega Activator


Where do I begin with the Sega Activator? In an effort to preemptively produce more plastic junk than Harmonix and Activision combined, Sega produced this little gem of a controller. The Activator advertised that it would translate your body movements into onscreen motions. The Activator did that as well as a baby winning an MMA fight. That is, it never happened.


The Activator, instead, mapped each of the controller’s face buttons to one of the 6 beams of infrared light aiming up around the sensors. When you broke the sensor, it “activated” that button press. The problem was that the thing required constant calibration; the beams were dodgy, and any promise to kick your friend’s ass at Mortal Kombat with it was an utter failure. Sega had a lot of missteps in their history, but the Activator represents all of their failures packaged in one crappy, plastic ring.


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

16 Comments on "Top 9 Worst Console Controllers"

  1. Michael Rogers March 13, 2012 at 2:38 am -

    Well written post – brought back lots of nostalgia as well as many gasps of *wtf*! I do think, however, that it is awfully Nintendo heavy. Yes they produced a lot of plastic crap, but they produced a lot of gems as well. How about the original Xbox controller? That thing was bigger than a large pizza!

    Keep up the good work folks.

  2. Bob June 13, 2012 at 7:20 am -

    i remember that power glove idk what it did but i use to put it on and play with it.

  3. Nicholas Tosoni March 30, 2013 at 3:16 pm -

    Man, that Laser Scope is a FUNKY piece a’ retro. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was used in some bad sci-fi movie of the time.

  4. johnjairo68 April 1, 2013 at 4:57 pm -

    Teh ATARI 5200 Controller (very bad controller by the way) was the FIRST analog controller in the world for consoles, in 1982.

    I don’t know if Nintendo fans hate so much Sony that thay didn’t investigate a little. Nintendo COPIED this idea from Atari.

    • John Jairo Quintero April 1, 2013 at 5:01 pm -

      Atari was the SECOND console with an analog stick. The Prinztronic/Acetronic/Interton series, launched in 1976 was the first. This system was widely cloned throughout Europe and available under several brand names. The 2 sticks each used a pair of potentiometers, but were not self-centering.

      Then, in 1982, Atari used this idea in their controllers.

      So, NINTENDO copied this idea. If other (Sony, Microsoft) used this, they didn’t copy Nintendo, they ALL used Prinztronic / Atari ideas.

      • CCM April 1, 2013 at 5:37 pm -

        There’s a difference between an analog “Joystick” and analog thumb sticks. The manipulation and feeling is far different. Nintendo was the first console with an analog thumb stick designed for the express purpose of manipulating characters in a 3D space. Modern systems now incorporate dual analog thumb sticks, not joysticks. So Nintendo was technically FIRST with the concept. It’s no secret Nintendo often innovates while others duplicate. “Investigate a little”? Dude I OWNED an Atari 2600 and pretty much every console and portable system ever since.

    • CCM April 1, 2013 at 5:41 pm -

      Wrong. See below

  5. Roll For Treasure April 6, 2013 at 10:41 pm -

    #7 was not that bad, I swore by my Bandai Super Controller, not at it. By making it bulkier it made the controller more comfortable in my hands. The trick was NOT using any of the sticks in the D-pad. It turned that miserable litlle callous inducing cross into a comfortable circle that made diagonal movement a lot easier.

  6. trololololololol April 7, 2013 at 11:39 pm -

    “Top Ten things I saw in the AVGN Nes accessories video that I thought looked bad”

  7. yellowwindow0 May 2, 2013 at 3:48 am -

    i just watched AVGN vids for most of these controllers and i laugh my ass out! XD

  8. Santiago Terziotti December 15, 2014 at 7:03 pm -

    the u force its the best accecory ever you son of a fuck that is one of the greatest controlers ever asshole

  9. James Jimmy B Brown February 9, 2015 at 6:05 am -

    God you are sad.

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