As long as consoles have had controller ports, there have been knockoff 3rd party gamepads. Some of these have been improvements upon the original design:
Or a more recent example, the best Playstation controller ever made, Logitech’s sublime wireless PS2 controller:
But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. No, I’m here because of shit like this:
Unless you’re one of the insane, dedicated few willing to throw good money down to improve upon the perfectly functional controller that was sold with your system, the term “third party controller” most directly translates to “chinzy crap”, the sort of gaming peripheral even mainstream gamers feel awkward about buying and the hardcore only turn to as a last resort. Maybe you’re putting together a used system for a nephew who doesn’t know any better. This is the sort of thing that leads down this horrible road:
Maybe you found out that your fourth for Madden Night doesn’t own a PS2 and has no intention of buying a controller. Then this could happen:
Or maybe you’re just an awful human being
Either way, it’s rare to go into the process of buying a 3rd party controller and expecting a quality piece of kit out of the process. Which is a shame, as there’s no need for most of these efforts to look and feel as cheap as they do. It’s like these manufacturers go out of their way to make their product as regrettable a purchase as possible. After all, there’s no good reason for something like this to exist
Unless you’re specifically trying to embarrass someone in the process. You’re telling me that at no point in the design process for this abomination that someone didn’t speak up and say “Hey, maybe it’s just me or does our controller look like it has Down’s Syndrome?”
As you’ve probably noticed, 3rd party controllers tend to share a lot of design cues. Inexplicable rubber grips are a favorite
These moldings seem to exist entirely to peel off and leave a gummy residue that immediately makes the user regret ever holding the controller after about a week of use, provided they manage to last that long without first breaking apart in a cloud of polystyrene splinters.
Also popular is pasting the controller maker’s logo over the front of the gamepad, as nothing provides better advertisement for a shitty controller than a sticker the size of a baby’s head.
Let us not forget the inexplicable presence of the Slowmo button, a relic from the 8 bit days that remains with us still. They were of marginal use back when hitting “start” merely paused the game– now that hitting “start” usually brings up a menu screen, the slow-motion button is good way to wipe out your entire savegame file, or irreversibly turn your console’s translation setting to Swahili. Hori is strangely dedicated to the idea of turbo and slo-mo switches, despite their otherwise sterling reputation as one of the few 3rd party controller manufacturers that actually go out of thier way to improve upon the original product. For instance, Hori’s otherwise excellent 360 gamepad:
You hit the wrong switch on this thing and you can wind up buying three thousand dollars worth of Netflix rentals before you regain control of your system.
Sometimes a bad controller can come about as a result of a company thinking they have a clever new idea that ultimately proves disastrous . For instance, the Nyko AirFlo controller likely sounded like a good idea when it was being thrown around in committee– For whatever reason Nyko’s engineers (this is provided Nyko or any other third party controller vendor actually employs engineers) thought that hand sweat was a pressing issue for gamers, so they took a Dual Shock, gutted the rumble motors, carved just enough holes in what remained to provide some sibilance of structural rigidity and came up with this goddamned thing:
Which, I dunno. Maybe the AirFlo was a good idea, but I never trusted the thing as it felt like it gripping it too hard would result in my palms being ripped to shreds by a pile of ABS plastic shards, like some sort of gaming stigmata.
Rarely, a company can go the extra mile and take a pre-existing bad controller– let’s say the godawful N64 pad– and through some horrible dark alchemy known only by the most potent necromancers– make it worse.
You have to admire Pelican’s dedication to it’s craft. Here they’ve managed to combine the worst parts of the SNES and the N64 controllers into a pulsating green blob. Pelican is remarkably good at this sort of thing, they’ve turned regretable controller purchases into something of a cottage industry. Take for instance the “Wii Compatable Wired Game Pad”
“Classic retro design and feel”. It’s a Gamecube pad! This isn’t retro! YOu can’t call something that was still in production two years ago retro! You’re just trying to trick soccer moms into buying this thing for ten bucks instead of the Classic Wii controller. And I do mean “trick”, as the ‘cube controller doesn’t work with a lot of stuff the Classic Wii controller was designed for. It’s deceptive shit like this that just turns people off gaming altogether and you’d think Sony and Microsof and Nintendo would institute a bit of quality control and truth in advertising for their liscensed vendors.
Hey, wasn’t this supposed to be the NES update? Yes, it was! However I would be doing Nintendo an injustice if I were to slag upon their company without my full creative abilities at my command. So you got a cheap update full of pictures culled from Amazon instead.