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Video Game Controllers Are All The Same

first_img Trade In Your Nintendo Switch For a Better Battery (With a Catch)Controller Patent Teases SNES Games on Switch Stay on target The key selling point of the Nintendo Switch is its myriad of playstyles. You can play it as a handheld. You can play it propped up as a tablet. And you can play it as a home console. This versatility applies to its controller options as well. But for many “serious” gamers the only true Switch solution is the optional $70 Pro Controller.Don’t get me wrong, I have a Pro Controller and think it’s great. It’s nice and substantial. But for some, it is the ONLY acceptable way to play Switch games. Even though the two Joy-Con collectively have the same number of buttons of sticks and can be slotted into a grip approximating a traditional controller shape, that’s not good enough for some. This got me thinking once again about what might be one of my more controversial gaming opinions, so I might as well write it down this time: Get over yourselves! Video game controllers are all the same!AdChoices广告From the trackballs and specialty arcade controls of gaming’s earliest era to Atari joysticks up until the N64/PS1 era, the video game controller transformed at a pretty state rate from generation to generation. Like an animal gaining evolutionary adaptations, new features like shoulder buttons and D-pads and analog sticks and rumble emerged. But around the beginning of the millennium, the industry sort of settled on making endless variations of the DualShock for the rest of time.Of course, there are outliers, most famously from Nintendo. The Wii, which I love, featured a radical remote-shaped controller that detected motion and went on to sell gangbusters. But for the most part, new features are fleeting flavors added to the standard controller shape used by everything from the mighty PS4 Pro and lowly Ouya.DualShock 4 has a nifty share button but a useless lightbar. The Wii U GamePad’s tablet distracted folks from the fact the controller still had all the buttons you wanted. The Switch Pro Controller, along with secret messages, has an NFC scanner and intriguing but nebulous “HD Rumble.” But in practice controllers, all look basically the same and are used in basically the same ways. So we argue endlessly and pedantically about minute differences in build quality or comfort for different hand sizes or stick placement.This bums me out because I think experimental controllers lead to experimental games, which lead to a more interesting and creative video game industry. I like weird stuff like the Wii remote or detachable Joy-Con. I think Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is a Game of the Year that only works because of its bongo drum controllers. Would Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero be as popular if you played them with a normal controller? I love how hardcore Smash Bros. players adore the GameCube controller and not one of endless identical fight sticks. I thought the Steam Controller, with its touchpads attempting to merge console and PC mouse-and-keyboard control options, was a worthy experiment for the famously forgotten Steam Machine. Mice and keyboards have important uses besides games so I’m not mentioning them here. I love weird controller exhibitions like Strange Arcade at IndieCade East or Alt.Ctrl.GDC. Heck, I was even willing to give Kinect a shot if Microsoft hadn’t abandoned the camera entirely by the time I bought an Xbox One.Let’s also not pretend that the current controller status quo is some perfect final form. Wrapping your hands around these bizarre, vaguely bone-shaped device with all these buttons and triggers and sticks to manipulate can be totally baffling if you’re not just used to it. And even if you are used to it, a game that demands you instantly recall how to use every possible button and combination of buttons, like the magnificent The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, can still trip you up.It makes you realize why millions of people enjoy otherwise terrible free-to-play mobile games that just let you intuitively touch whatever is happening on their phone. They don’t need to spend $130 on a controller that shaves off microseconds of input lag because they aren’t high-paid eSports athletes with their livelihood on the line. Most gamers aren’t those athletes either, so most controllers should suit their needs just fine! Stop being so precious!Again, I love me some traditional stick-and-button controllers. Part of what makes the Switch so cool to me is the convenience of mobile gaming combined with the ability to play games that aren’t constrained to touch-only inputs. I recognize there’s also real value in having standardized controllers to create a baseline for gaming literacy. More people could learn how to play more games more easily if all controllers stayed the same. After all, every new book doesn’t come with its own alphabet.I just want gaming culture to break out of this paradigm that controllers, as they are now, are essentially perfect, that the only thing left to do is squabble over infinitesimal ergonomic adjustments and refinements. Don’t pretend that swapping a glossy finish with a custom purple matte finish is some bold and innovative leap forward. It’s neat, but it doesn’t truly push games forward. Embrace experimentation!Want to learn more?Here’s everything you need to know about the Nintendo Switch.Or check out Switch Games That Aren’t Zelda.Buy it now!The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WildNintendo SwitchEssential Nintendo Switch Accessorieslast_img read more