When it comes to innovation in the gaming industry, Nintendo is always at the forefront. Every system that they make is radically different from the last. After all, they made the Virtual Boy.
With that innovation comes controllers. It all began with the seminal Nintendo Entertainment System, which is largely responsible for shaping the game industry into what it is today. And now, we are taking a stroll down memory lane, and discussing five of the best Nintendo game controllers out there, along with five of the worst. Without further ado, let's get into it.
10 Best: Wii U GamePad
Say what you want about the Wii U and what a colossal failure it was, but the GamePad was actually a really cool device. It allowed for unique control schemes, innovative multiplayer titles and off-screen play.
Nintendo Land was one of the best showcases of what the GamePad could do. Mario Kart 8 used it as a horn, so that was something. Had the system been marketed a bit differently and had more than three games on it, the GamePad could have been a really interesting controller that was lauded, rather than the fate that befell it.
9 Worst: Virtual Boy Controller
Well heck, who saw this one coming? The Virtual Boy was a lot of things, and most of those things are bad. Pretty much all of them. The controller is no exception. What sounds better than controlling a character in a 3D space with two D-Pads? The options are weird, the handles are weird, it's just a controller that doesn't seem... fun to use. Considering that the system it was attached to was a mess as well, this really doesn't come as much of a surprise.
8 Best: Switch Pro Controller
The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is one real nice controller. It was basically just bringing Nintendo into the modern world (save for a headphone jack and whatnot), but the controller is excellently designed. It has everything that one could possibly need, and feels so nice to control.
The somewhat see-through design is a nice touch as well. Now, if they could just release some prettier versions of this thing, we've got a deal.
7 Worst: Joy-Con
In theory, the Joy-Con are a really nice pair of controllers. You can split them off from the Switch console and use them together, individually, any scheme you'd like based on how many people you're playing with. These aspects can't be downplayed, sure, but there are problems with the Joy-Con.
The things are incredibly small, and work in a pinch, but aren't the best option when you have other controllers around. They don't even have a D-Pad. The main issue, of course, is the Joy-Con drift that has been plaguing these things. Fix that issue in new editions of the Joy-Con, and you have yourself some fantastic little controllers.
6 Best: Wii Controller
The Wii controller changed the way that we (ha) play video games. The Wii remote made motion-controlled video games hot for about five seconds, made a controller that everyone could understand, and had a wide array of useful attachments, such as the Motion Plus, classic controller, nunchaku, and foam golf club.
The Wii had fans in every generation, and the easy to use controller was a major part of that success. Sure, the sensor bar wasn't perfect, and not all the attachments were completely useful, but Nintendo sure did do some interesting things in this generation.
5 Worst: NES Controller
The NES controller served its purpose in its time, but it hasn't really translated to current times as well as some of the other controllers of the past have. For one, it is incredibly small, and doesn't feel great on the hands. Those sharp edges don't help things at all.
Along with that, the controller only has a D-Pad, select, start, A and B. There isn't much room to get creative here. The NES controller did basically the bare minimum necessary for its time. It got the job done, sharp edges and all.
4 Best: SNES Controller
The SNES controller is the best. That's official. It's not sharp so that's a win over its predecessor, it has four face buttons, a D-Pad, and in an era without 3D gaming, this was absolutely perfect. The SNES controller took all of the bad from the NES controller and spruced things up, while keeping all the good.
While it still isn't the best controller Nintendo has in their roster, it's great at what it needs to get done.
3 Worst: Nintendo 64 Controller
Look, back in the day... this made sense? Maybe? Who knows. No matter if it worked then, this is in no way an ideal way to play 3D games now. The awkward placement of the joystick just doesn't do any favors for this controller. It makes accessing all parts of the controller with ease almost impossible, which is the antithesis to any controller layout.
This is one that worked in the time it was created, but never would fly in today's market. The SNES controller might not have everything needed for today's market, but it still is a controller that looks and plays well. Not so much here.
2 Best: GameCube Controller
When a controller is still being used on modern consoles almost 20 years after release, you've clearly got something special. The GameCube controller is just perfect. Four distinct face buttons, two joysticks, a D-Pad, some FANTASTIC triggers, and a perfect Z button, the controller has everything needed and feels absolutely perfect in any set of hands.
The controller is still considered the best way to play many Nintendo games, and that's 100% valid. This game deserves the praise that it gets.
1 Worst: Power Glove
The Power Glove is an officially licensed product, so we're counting it. And it is bad. Controllers that don't work are bad, thus, the Power Glove is bad. You really weren't playing with power when the glove couldn't complete its main functions.
The gesture-based controls may seem like they were ahead of their time, but in reality, they weren't ready for controlling games yet. The Power Glove was a cute little idea that couldn't deliver on anything that it promised. Honestly, let's revisit it.