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
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…..
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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.