CNET Top 5
Game controllersConsole game controllers are the unsung heroes of a great gaming experience. Let's count down the all-time greats, including a top pick chosen by CNET readers.
Mobile games on smartphones and tablets are all the rage these days, but a touch screen is no replacement for the bond between a man (or woman) and a game controller. I�m Donald Bell and in this CNET Top 5 we�re paying respect to the all-time greatest console game controllers. Starting off at #5. The Atari 2600 joystick. A classic. This guy had its limitations, and it looked like it was carved from a piece of Darth Vader. But because absolutely anybody could use it, this controller ushered in the first wave of mainstream console gaming. In many ways, mobile games have brought us back to Atari�s one-button philosophy. At #4, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System controller. Sure, the original NES controller is more iconic, but it was the SNES that got us used to the four-button design used on all major consoles today. More importantly, it introduced the idea of shoulder buttons, opening up a whole new vocabulary of button combinations and giving �90s youth a way to play Street Fighter II from the comfort of home. Number 3 is a bit controversial. The CNET UK piece I originally based this list on gave the #3 slot to the Nintendo 64 controller. But our CNET gaming experts Dan Ackerman, Scott Stein, and Jeff Bakalar threatened to stop talking to me if I didn�t give this one to the Sega Dreamcast. This design laid the groundwork for the Xbox 360 and it had a unique expansion port that could be used with a tiny screen for extra content. I was way ahead of its time, and that�s why it�s on the list. At #2 -- and this was a hard choice -- the PlayStation DualShock in all its forms. Here was the first controller to include built-in Haptic feedback built-in. It debuted in 1997, and Sony is still essentially using the same design today. It ranks right up there with the Walkman in Sony�s legacy of industrial design. Before we get to our #1 pick, let�s take a minute to acknowledge some of the worst game controllers ever made. There was the boulder Atari made for the Jaguar and the Intellivision thing that looked like a phone. But the most worthless controller, and one of the most heartless scams perpetrated on the children of the �80s was the Nintendo Power Glove. It looked so cool, but it was so, so bad. And now, the #1 game controller, confirmed by popular vote over on Top5.CNET.com, is the Xbox 360 Controller. Now, unlike Sony, Microsoft had to go through a few revisions before they nailed it. They delivered built-in wireless control a year before the PlayStation. And because Xbox has carried so many blockbuster games, this thing just feels like the embodiment of a great gaming experience. If you want to participate in future Top 5 polls, you can subscribe to my updates on Facebook or just make it a habit to check back at Top5.CNET.com. I�m Donald Bell, thanks for watching.