Today we looked at the man behind the first joystick, and from that launching point it's a good time to talk about everything that came thereafter. While most of us are familiar with gamepads starting with the Atari or NES and going from there, it's hard to wrap your mind around all the gaming controllers that have been released since. From the gimmicky to the surreal, if you can dream it, someone has done it. Some of the more popular modern games are played with dance mats or guitar controllers, but who really wants to control a game with a big finger that you stab into an arcade cabinet with a model of someone's behind? I'm convinced that game was only invented so we have an easy joke when we talk about game controllers.
1up.com has a look at some of the more "out there" controllers. Some I've used, some I've avoided, and others I've never heard of. A lot of these things just didn't work; ideas always move faster than technology, but unfortunately that rarely keeps companies from selling products anyway. I'm not going to be quite as hard on these guys as 1up was, I think it's important to note that it takes a lot of failures before we get something like a Guitar Hero controller or a DDR Pad. Of course, the Guitar Hero controller is a ripoff of the Guitar Freaks controller, and the DDR Pad is really just a Power Pad with different colors, so maybe there are just a few ideas out there and we keep repeating them.
I do think it's odd that they completely ignore rhythm games, since that's a genre that's always begging for custom controllers. From the Donkey Konga Bongos to the Beatmania controller to the aforementioned Dance Dance Revolution pads, most rhythm games have their own controller. Luckily most of these games are solid and avoid the gimmickry associated with the sillier controllers, so they're not as fun to read about. This article really makes me want to track me down some Samba De Amigo controllers.