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Eight of the weirdest game controllers of all time

Eight of the weirdest game controllers of all time

first_img 1 2 The Nintendo Wii U controller is definitely unique, but it’s by no means the craziest input device ever made. For as long as people have been gaming, hardware designers have been trying to reinvent the way they do it, and that has produced a long line of strange experiments. Some of them fell flat. Others weren’t great, but innovated in ways that made a lasting impression. A few were even pretty good on their own. No matter how well they succeeded, all of them were unusual enough to earn confused expressions at first glance. Here are some of the most bizarre controllers ever, and why they’ve got a place in gaming history.NeGcon – PlaystationThe first question most people ask when they see the Namco NeGcon is “why?” And indeed, why would anyone want a gamepad that twists in half? The surprising answer is that, at the time, it was one of the best ways to play racing games. The original Playstation controller didn’t have the thumbsticks that are so common today, which meant no analog steering. Making a really precise turn required carefully pulsing the left and right directions on a D-pad, or else buying a racing wheel.The NeGcon’s unusual design offered a different solution. By twisting the halves of Namco’s controller in opposite directions, players could fine tune the amount of turn they wanted. Meanwhile, the two analog buttons on the face, another unusual feature at the time, allowed for more precise acceleration and braking. As strange as it looks now, the NeGcon was a favorite among fans of the early WipEout games.Nintendo 64 controllerThe Nintendo 64 controller (pictured at the top) is perhaps the most refined experiment on this list. In some ways, it was even ahead of its time, as its analog thumbstick and trigger didn’t become standard controller features for years. The problem was that, in order to use them, players had to awkwardly grasp the middle and side of the controller, one hand higher than the other. Looking back, it’s clear that this is where Nintendo truly fell in love with making unusual controllers.Sidewinder Strategic Commander – PCBefore the Xbox 360 controller became the go-to gaming device on the PC, Microsoft’s Sidewinder gamepad was the gold standard that many games were pre-configured for. The other entries in the Sidewinder family, however, weren’t as universally loved.The Strategic Commander was designed with RTS games in mind, the idea being that it could replace the keyboard for a player’s left hand. The entire top portion slid around on the base for moving about a map, and twisted for zooming in and out. The buttons under each fingertip could be programmed with long strings of keys for quickly setting up build queues or issuing common commands. Despite some clunkiness to the movement scheme, the Strategic Commander had dedicated fans who felt it was an under-appreciated RTS tool.Sidewinder Dual Strike – PCI can’t bring up the Sidewinder line without mentioning Microsoft’s other strange experiment from that period, the Dual Strike. As with the Strategic Commander, the Dual Strike was an attempt to rethink the usual mouse and keyboard scheme used on the PC, but this time for the FPS genre. The knob that divided the two sides allowed the right section of the controller to pivot around for aiming, while the D-pad handled the ASDW functions of moving and strafing.Many reviewers found that the Dual Strike actually worked well, even if it took a lot of adjusting to. If the D-pad hadn’t been so prone to break, it might have gathered more of a following.Next page: Four more controllers that seemed like a good idea at the time…last_img read more