Hello again. If you remember the Pulse Cannon before it went on hiatus for a while, I tried to give my impressions of games I had been playing during the week. Since it’s return however I’ve been going a different route, speaking about things that I think are interesting or important in the game world. That’s why you haven’t seen me discussing my experiences in Battlefield 2 etc. I spoke last week about where I’d like to see the game industry take voice recognition. Today I think I’ll take a peek at the controllers we seem to be stuck with for the time being.
The current generation of controllers are all basically modelled after the Dual Shock controller from Sony, so I guess we’ll start with them. Prior to Sony’s Playstation 2 it was just assumed that controllers would change from system to system. Partly because new controllers meant new revenue coming in when purchased, but also because nobody was really satisfied with the designs that were in use up until that time. Sony went and got a little bit diabolical however when they released the PS2. The Dual Shock 2 was in fact the very same controller on the outside as it was different on the inside. Meaning you might think you could just use your old PS1 stick, but eventually they’d find a way to make you get the new one. Since it’s introduction, the Dual Shock controller has really become the defacto standard design in the industry thanks to the number of consoles Sony has sold. Even the PS3 controller, while made radically more awkward thanks to it’s tripod like feet, will apparently still retain much of the Dual Shock button layout. Four face, four shoulder. Two cramped hands.
Microsoft saw the Dual Shock and said we can do better. And then they promptly fell flat on their face with their original controller for the Xbox. Honestly, I didn’t have too big of a problem with it, but I could certainly see room for improvement. And Microsoft agreed, quickly changing to the Type S controller, which was smaller, more streamlined, and much more like the PS2 controller than it’s predecessor had been. The 360 controller is going to be even more like the Dual Shock 2 pad, taking the black and white buttons and placing them above the shoulder triggers. I can’t say I’m happy about this, as I would much prefer 6 face buttons in a row, similar to the old Sega Saturn pad, but what can you do?
Lastly we have Nintendo. And frankly, last is where they deserve to be. Not because I don’t like them, but because their latest attempt at a joystick has been a joke. They found an interesting design that worked for some things with the 3 pronged N64 stick, but sadly it was only good for First Person Shooters and Mario clones. Anything else was hampered by the design. And they knew it too, so they went and changed the design to something that they hoped would be more accepted by third party developers. Only, instead of going with the standard number of buttons, or with more, they went with one less, forcing developers to develop work arounds that made their customers decide they’d rather play the game as it was intended on a system whos controller wasn’t a hinderance.
Despite all my dissappointment about Nintendo’s previous attempts at a controller that works, I am holding out hope for their Revolution. As a matter of fact it’s really the only thing right now that’s making me hold out hope for it. From the moment Microsoft unveiled the Xbox 360 to a round of “is that it?” and Sony decided to let slip that their console may require a mortgage to pay for, Nintendo’s stock in the upcoming console race has continued to rise because they’ve kept their mouths shut about much of the details of their console. They’ve said the system will be a game system only, and thus cheap. They’ve also said the system won’t be as powerful as the other two, but that the controller they are working on will be the real reason the system is named Revolution.
I have high hopes but low expectations for the Revolution’s controller. I’ve heard touch screen, I’ve heard not touch screen. I’ve heard modular, I’ve heard singular. Whatever it is I hope it improves on what’s out there right now, because my hands can’t take another 5 years of this. Pulse Cannon powering down.