7 crazy video game controllers we can’t believe people once thought were a good idea

source
YouTube

The video game controller, the main way we interact with games, hasn’t changed much since the mid 1980’s.

Analog sticks and triggers were added in the mid 1990’s to accommodate the shift from 2D to 3D games, but that didn’t replace the basic controller layout that came before, comprised of face buttons and a directional pad.

In a few cases, like with the popular “Dance Dance Revolution” or “Guitar Hero” franchises, peripheral controllers were created to better suit those games.

History is littered with many more examples of companies conceiving of the next great way for us to play games – and then failing.

Here are eight examples: seven crazy designs trying to impact how we play, with an eighth controller attempting to give us a new place to play.


The Atari Mindlink

source
YouTube

The Atari Mindlink never came out, but at the time of its development Atari promised that it would let you play video games with your mind. In reality, the Mindlink would translate movements made on your forehead into on-screen commands. Only six working prototypes were ever made, and they were demonstrated at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Unfortunately those who used the Mindlink would get headaches, so it was scrapped before ever reaching the market.


The Fragmaster

Fragmaster:

I owned this controllerfor some inexplicable reason I thought it would work well for FPS.I made a terrible mistake

I owned this controllerfor some inexplicable reason I thought it would work well for FPS.I made a terrible mistake

The Fragmaster is a great example of trying to combine two things that work perfectly well on their own – in this case a keyboard and mouse – and failing. Instead of using a mouse, aiming required moving the entire Fragmaster around. Shooting or any other action was handled by pressing any of The Fragmasters buttons and triggers. In reality, mice offered greater precision, making the Fragmaster a poor choice for players of first person shooters, the demographic it was trying to appeal to in the first place.


The Resident Evil Chainsaw Controller

source
YouTube

Like many peripherals, the Resident Evil chainsaw controller was a developed as a tie-in with a specific game, in this case “Resident Evil 4.” While that game is regarded as one of the greatest of all time, the controller is an ergonomic nightmare. The two chainsaw handles are farther apart than the ends of a typical game controller, and the buttons are configured in an awkward position. Ultimately this controller works better as a prop than functional device.


The Tony Hawk Ride Skateboard

source
YouTube

Since the early days of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise, Tony Hawk has played a hands-on role during its development. Hawk presented the official “Tony Hawk: Ride” skateboard on stage himself, but his endorsement came just before people realized how poorly it worked in reality. Released during the height of the Wii’s popularity, the board was meant to help players feel like they were really skateboarding, but it was too complicated and unreliable to use. The Ride skateboard was the only way players were allowed to play “Tony Hawk: Ride,” and the game suffered because of it.


The Steel Battalion Controller

source
YouTube

If the “Tony Hawk: Ride” skateboard was meant to convey the effortlessness of skateboarding, the Steel Battalion controller ups the ante, giving you all the controls necessary to command something a tad bulkier – a tank. Buttons, switches, and joysticks are in abundance here, each one assigned a very specific task, including things as minute as controlling the windshield wipers. The original Xbox controller set next to the Steel Battalion controller doesn’t just give you a sense of physical scale, but how many buttons developers usually have at their disposal. Oh, and this picture doesn’t show the three foot-pedals to control the tank’s speed. Here’s what it looks like when the Steel Battalion controller is being used. It’s a sight to behold.


The Guitar Hero Grip

source
YouTube

“Guitar Hero” is one of the few game franchises whose peripherals were both well conceived and constructed. The developers of “Guitar Hero: On Tour” tried their best to translate the gameplay of the series’ console versions to a portable system, but it was too cramped to work. The Grip required strapping your hand to the back of your DS, tapping the guitar buttons in sync with the music, and desperately trying not to accidentally flap the top screen shut. All this while hitting the guitar strings that show up on the bottom screen. The Guitar Hero Grip was highly ambitious, but ultimately resulted in a series of sour notes.


The Power Glove

source
Flickr/Matt Mechtley

Perhaps the most notorious example of a peripheral gone wrong, the Power Glove was meant to let you manipulate games through movement, but it didn’t work out that way. The Power Glove had two transmitters which would send out signals picked up by three sensors that had to be set up separately. The connection was never strong, and the tech wasn’t sophisticated enough for your movements to be accurately translated on screen. What’s worse, both “Super Glove Ball” and “Bad Street Brawler” – the only two games that worked with the Power Glove – had to be bought separately, which made purchasing the peripheral a costly proposition.


The Wii car adapter

source
YouTube

A lot of video game peripherals try to impact how we play, this one was meant to give people a different place to play: Their car. Of course, you’d also need a way to power a T.V. as well, but mostly what makes this device so confounding is that it’s meant to be used with the Wii, a console whose main selling point was motion controlled games. This would be far better suited to be used with the Wii U, which comes with a portable tablet to play games on. In that way the Wii U is significantly more car-friendly.