Control is a really understated feature in games, I feel. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s the most important feature. It’s the conduit between the player and the plaything, yet in most people’s eyes it takes a back seat to the fidelity of the graphics or the breadth of the game’s content. If I don’t feel like I’m in complete control of what happens on screen, I tend not to enjoy myself. It’s what frustrates me about games I otherwise really like, such as Street Fighter and NBA 2K. Think about first-time players, too. If the controls don’t make a good first impression, they become disconnected, disinterested and disheartened before they can adjust.
At the risk of telling a “Back in my day…” story, I’m going to bring up a discussion that seems to have faded with the current generation of consoles. As the sole Gamecube owner among my circle of PS2-owning friends, we often discussed* the merits of one console against another. One of the foremost points in each sharing of opinions was the good and bad points of each system’s controller. You may notice that none of us owned an Xbox. One of the key reasons behind this was the cumbersome and oversized controller. In the current generation of consoles, debates about the controllers seem almost nonexistent, and this is probably due to the high quality pads we are treated with today. While the topic is less relevant than it used to be, it’s still one that I’d like to cover. So I will.