Microsoft boasted that it had spent "hundreds of millions of dollars" developing the controller for the Xbox One, assumedly because "glossy black plastic" and "textured rubber thumbpads" are the most valuable materials on Earth. But there's a reason why they were so cautious about their gamepads. The controller is only point of contact between you and your games, and if the connection isn't precise and comfortable, then the experience is irreparably ruined. I mean, "someone brought up politics at Thanksgiving" ruined. The controller is key and that's why we're pointing out some of the dumbest examples from across gaming history. We're just scratching the surface here (we could do a follow up article on that "Resident Evil Chainsaw" thing by itself) but if you've owned a particularly horrendous D-Pad, let us know in the comments.
1. Sega Activator
Behold, a device that enables you to do karate at your Sega Genesis. If motion controls aren't perfect now, it's highly doubtful they mastered the technology in 1995. Even in a bizarro universe where this actually did work correctly, there is no way anyone would be better at Street Fighter by physically doing roundhouse kicks, especially if they were playing against a normal dude who just had to tap a button. In the real universe, each button was mapped to a side of the octagon (there were 8 buttons on the Genesis/Megadrive controller) so effectively playing any game requires you to flail around like a glitched out mess until you collapsed in an exhausted heap.
It is the heart of elegance. One stick. One button. This poorly-received Atari controller had one button and a creamy mercury center. Technically the first "motion controller", you held Le Stick aloft and tilted it in the direction you wanted. Le Stick was tough to calibrate and didn't quite work for fast-paced twitchy games. It also had the misfortune of coming out right before the great videogame crash of '83 (we're talking E.T. cartridges in the desert). Le Stick is now mostly forgotten, but it lives on in the minds of juvenile idiots who love to point out it looked slightly dong-ish and had a silly name.
3. The H&K MP5 Submachine Gun Wiimote
So, you're telling me that your target audience is "gun-savvy adult gamers that want to play military-style shooters on the Wii"... good luck with that.
4. SpaceOrb 360
What if playing 3D games was like groping a weird rubber boob? That's what SpaceTec asked themselves when they slapped a giant spherical trackpad onto a Sega Saturn controller. Created during the wild west years of interface design, this one still has a few fans. At the time, gaming was moving to three dimensions and the standard "dual analog stick" layout hadn't even been imagined yet, let alone implemented. So don't judge the SpaceOrb 360 too harshly. It turns out the future wasn't groping a boob, it was flicking two nipples. They missed it by THAT much.
5. Intel Wireless Series Gamepad
We actually hacked the Intel archives to find the original design document for the Intel Wireless Series Gamepad: