Every Nintendo Controller, Ranked From Worst To Best

Sometimes you can't beat a classic, and sometimes you easily can. While innovative new takes on the controller can be fun, some can be totally useless

For the purposes of this Nintendo article we set up some rules to keep everything more cohesive. For example, we are sticking to products released in the West. We are also only going to highlight official, Nintendo developed hardware. Even though the Power Glove was highly advertised for the NES, Mattel made it.

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Finally, on that subject, we aren’t going to talk about accessories. One of Nintendo’s most recent releases, Ring Fit Adventure, came with the Ring-Con, which basically just a dock for the Joy-Con. With those clarifications out of the way let's get to the rankings!

11 Virtual Boy Controller

Technically the Virtual Boy is a portable, but since it has a controller we thought it was necessary to rank it. Of course we couldn’t in great conscience put it higher than the bottom of the list. The console overall is just a mess from the obtuse controller to the eye-bleeding red screen.

Why are there two D-Pads? The 3D functionality worked and it was a neat idea, but it was one that didn’t quite have enough time in the oven. Nintendo got it right later with the 3DS.

10 Nintendo 64 Controller

Slightly better than the Virtual Boy we have an almost equally awful controller from the Nintendo 64. How does one hold this thing? Maybe it was great for adults, but for kids this was a beast to handle.

This is coming off the Super Nintendo, which had an awesome controller too. What went wrong Nintendo? Just as a reference, there was a Japanese option called the Hori Pad Mini. It was third-party, but boy did it fix the original design.

9 Wii Remote and Nunchuck

The Wii changed the world of gaming forever. The motion controls made it possible for people to test out the system who normally don’t play games. Wii Play and Wii Sports were a huge hits and the motion functionality worked well without complicated buttons.

It was great for casuals, but for more hardcore experiences the Wii Remote and the detachable Nunchuck for movement always felt bad, or at least a struggle to use. That’s why we want a remaster of Super Mario Galaxy for Switch. Fix the controls Nintendo!

8 NES Controller

The NES holds a special place in a lot of gamers’ hearts. It is the first true home console that changed the game. It was more than the Atari 2600 could ever offer. The controller was the perfect size for the hands of kids even though the rectangular edges weren’t the best.

The D-Pad and A and B buttons were solid though. It is classic and should be remembered for what it did for gaming, but it also shouldn’t be ranked any higher than this.

7 GameCube Controller

The GameCube controller has a crazy design. The buttons are different sizes along with the analog sticks. It is weird to be sure, but was still a great controller and is still supported to this day thanks to the Super Smash Bros. Melee fans out there.

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We would be scolded if we didn’t mention the WaveBird, but the design is the same save for the extra bulk on the bottom that allowed it to be wireless. We will note that it is a better option.

6 SNES Controller

As we mentioned earlier the SNES controller is awesome. It smoothed out the edges of the NES design, making it more round and conforming to one’s grip. The buttons and D-Pad were also improved. The L and R buttons, we can admit, weren’t perfect though.

In a pre-analog stick world, this is the best classic controller Nintendo ever made for one of their top three consoles. What is the top three? Sounds like one should wait for a new list in the future.

5 Wii Classic Controller

The Wii Classic Controller is just like the SNES controller, but better. It is shaped the same with a little more weight due to the two analog sticks and the extra shoulder triggers. This attaches to the Wii Remote so one could play Virtual Console games.

It was a great idea to make one all-around useful controller for retro consoles instead of releasing a NES version, a SNES version, and so on.

4 Wii U Pro Controller

When we were thinking about this one we thought the Wii U and Switch Pro controllers were the same, but our memories were a tad fuzzy. Like the Wii U GamePad, the analog sticks were at the top of the controller’s left and right sides.

It is also more jagged than we remember with the triggers feeling out of place. For those not wanting to haul around the GamePad, it was a nice alternative that feels good compared to its contemporaries with the Xbox 360 and PS3.

3 Switch Joy-Cons

Creating two separate Joy-Cons that detach from the sides of the Switch was an amazing idea. This allows them to double as motion controls along with being able to play co-op by tilting the controllers on their sides. It is reminiscent of the NES’ design combined with the Wii’s.

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The placement of the stick on the left side does make it more awkward along with the lack of a true D-Pad. Still, for ingenuity’s sake, they are great despite the drifting issues as well.

2 Wii U GamePad

The Wii U Pro controller is good, but we actually liked using the GamePad more. Yes, it is bulky like a prototype Switch without the better portability.

And sure, the button placement wasn’t ideal and the overall controller felt like a toy, but all that said, it worked better than it looked. It was a really good controller for a system that didn’t last long.

1 Switch Pro Controller

The best controller Nintendo ever made is the Pro controller for the Switch. It is better in every way compared to the Wii U’s just like the Switch is a better system overall next to the prototype that was the Wii U. It’s a good controller because Nintendo finally copied Xbox wholesale.

A lot of companies have copied Nintendo over the years, like with motion gaming, so it was only natural they caved and did it too. The only thing really different is the capture buttons and the more rounded edges. It’s not as good as PS4’s, but we actually like it above the Xbox One’s.

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