You play a computer game; you play it with either a controller or with a keyboard and mouse possibly if you’re on the PC. This is the tradition; so long you’re not throwing a Wiimote or your limbs near a Kinect of course.
The game controller is not only a vital part when playing computer games but in some cases it can become an icon in its own right. Think of the amount of merchandise which has been created based on the design of the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) controller or the Sony Playstation controller which has changed little in terms of basic design after three generations of consoles.
Over the past few decades we have seen both console makers and third party organisations come up with curios and varied designs for controllers to give players a new and in theory “enhanced” way to play our games.
Many of these ambitious or unorthodox approaches have seen the creation of controllers which can be best described as infamous, absurd or just downright bizarre.
In recognition Gaming Kick has compiled thirty of the most bizarre computer game controllers ever sold on markets worldwide.
The following compilation includes controllers, the majority of which are gamepads, some of which were sold by console makers or others by companies not directly tied to those behind the console or PC they are meant to be used for.
On another note the list has been narrowed in terms of categories so don’t expect to find any Light Guns, Steering Wheels, Keyboards or any controller concepts which were never actually sold (like the Atari Mindlink for instance).
Back in 1995 a certain company called Apple Inc. launched a game console called the Bandai Pipp!n. The controller for Apple’s product was called the Applejack and both wire-connected and wireless versions were created.
This boomerang-shaped device also incorporated a trackball in the centre and a colour button layout which reminds us of an Xbox controller. Actually the shape of the Applejack also looks reminiscent of the earlier concept design for the Playstation 3 controller.
Sadly for Apple the Bandai Pipp!n was a short-lived flop but they’ve since made up for that by making zillions with more recent products beginning with the word ‘i’.
Atari Jaguar controller
The Jaguar was the one and only Atari console to use a “modern” gamepad. The design used for this console however was widely criticised for its weird and overly complex presentation.
The Jaguar’s controller featured as many as 17 buttons, the reason being so it could suit future games, but those games didn’t come soon enough before the Jaguar itself was retired. Therefore it looked like a diabolical crossbreed between a gamepad and a telephone for no good reason.
Sega Saturn 3D Control Pad
This disc-shaped invention was launched by Sega for its Saturn console back in 1996, in response to the Nintendo 64’s analogue controller, which was back then widely considered revolutionary.
Unlike the 64’s controller however the 3D Control Pad sort of resembles a traditional crepe maker and rivals the original Xbox for the title of “most unnecessarily bulky and awkward controller award”.
Virtual Boy Controller
The Nintendo Virtual Boy’s controller is unusual in that it features two joypads, which are utilised in a similar to fashion to how analogue sticks would provide “dual control” for future consoles. Much like the Virtual Boy however, the twin joypad layout has failed to catch on.
Atari 5200 Trackball Controller (the thing on the right)
This behemoth of a controller was nearly as big as the console it was built for; the Atari 5200, which itself is bigger than many other game consoles built around the same time and in later years.
Resident Evil 4 chainsaw controllers
These lovingly crafted limited edition controllers were made for both the Gamecube and Playstation 2 versions of the survival/action horror game Resident Evil 4. They look awkward to use and you can’t actually cut anything with them. Only recommended if you’re a hardcore Resi 4 fan, or a sociopath.
This third party controller for the Playstation One was made of two halves connected by a swivel joint. This meant you could literally snap the controller in half when you got really pissed off at a game, yet you could put it back together and use it again with ease!
Way before the Wii console, Nintendo had an earlier crack at motion gaming with this retro-style accessory for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). All you needed in theory was some sensors on the TV, some code combinations and some waving of the hand to play your NES in a new and “radical” fashion.
The Power Glove’s best claim to fame is possibly its appearance in the film The Wizard, which from a cynical man’s viewpoint can be described as a 100 minute commercial for Nintendo products.
Another unusual NES accessory, only this time it kind of looks likes a dinner tray. In actual fact this device employs both a pilot wheel-thingy and infrared sensors which allow you to control the game with the power of hand movements. That was the intention anyway, but the U-Force’s unreliability has seen it appears on numerous web pages written to highlight the worst gaming peripherals.
Yeah that’s right you can actually play games with bongos! These Donkey Kong bongos however only support four games, all starring the Nintendo gorilla mascot. Nevertheless Gaming Kick rather likes these bongos and would particularly like to play them in the morning (only fans of Harry Hill’s TV Burp will likely get this reference).
Steel Battalion set
Back in 2002 (or 2003 for Europe) an Xbox exclusive game called Steel Battalion was launched where you controlled giant walking tanks (no not Metal Gear). To play the game properly you need the set of joysticks, buttons and pedals which you see above. To buy the game new with the complete controller set bundled in, UK gamers needed to pay £130. In short it’s ambitious, arguably awesome, but crowded and pricey.
Wu-Tang clan controller
Named after an American rap group, this controller came with a special edition version of a Playstation One fighting game featuring the Wu-Tang clan. Hard to think of anything else to say about other than it’s curiously bizarre. A rejected Batarang design maybe?
Wii Bowling Ball
Just remember not to throw it at your TV even if you so happen to be playing the Wii Sports bowling mini-game.
Marketed as a martial arts simulator, the Activator was a black hexagonal ring which the player placed on the floor around them like a dropped hula-hoop. You would then try to play a fighting game by kicking in the air and hoping the Activator’s sensors would pick your moves up. Ultimately though this peripheral has been slated for its inaccuracy and all-round uselessness.
Still at least the gaming industry has seemingly gotten body motion control sorted with devices like the Xbox Kinect. Or on some evidence maybe not!
The ultimate accessory for Microsoft Train Simulator fans everywhere!
USB Finger Dance Mat
Fancy a game of Dance Dance Revolution but don’t have the space or money? Well with this you can let your fingers show everyone who is the dancing king or queen.
This is just one of a series of Samurai themed Playstation 2 controllers which you can find on Amazon or ebay. However they are both ugly and terrifying and don’t look that comfortable to use either.
Hori Super Robot Wars controller
This third-party Playstation 2 controller is in theory meant to be used one-handed. Yeah.
XE-1AP Sega Megadrive Analogue controller
This controller was made for the Sega Megadrive (aka Genesis in America) and was only sold in Japan. Just trying to comprehend the layout of this thing hurts our brain.
Famicon Coconuts Japan Pachinko controller
Sword-slashing action game Onimusha 3 (which funnily enough featured the voice and likeness of Jean Reno) was launched back in 2004 along with a “special” new controller. Doesn’t look that practical however and there wasn’t even a blade attached. Total rip-off!
Super Pad 64 Plus
The Nintendo 64 Controller’s unloved mutant brother?
Don’t know much about this one but I quite like it actually.
It’s just another wireless mouse, except it’s also a little wireless gaming controller you can use for the PC as well. Not quite as practical as a standard gamepad but an interesting idea nevertheless.
Tony Hawk skateboard
Once upon a time Tony Hawk games were a highly popular series which got near-perfect scores from official reviewers. In more recent times though, the series developers Activision have resorted to making a buttoned controller shaped like a skateboard. It looks about as comfortable to use as falling off a skateboard.
The Nostromo Speedpad is not an alien device (geddit?) surprisingly enough but a weird keyboard, joystick and mouse hybrid. It just looks like somebody stole bits off several others gadgets and meshed it together to create this Frankencontrollerstein beast.
This PC gaming controller released in 1996 appears to have had a chunk stolen and swapped for a piece of dark matter.
Suma 3D controller
Actually I am contradicting my own set criteria by including this, because the Suma 3D is just a prototype developed by Cambridge Consultants, and has not to my knowledge actually been on the market. Still have you ever wondered what it would be like to play games with an orange? If yes this could provide you all the answers!
Oh dear me, this is by far the smuttiest entry on this list. The Joydick is a third-party controller compatible with the old Atari 2600 console and it works in four directions like a joystick except you strap it on your manhood to give you that phallic feeling whilst “playing” your chosen game.
Again like the Suma this controller isn’t actually on sale but clear instructions are available online telling how to make your own. You sick bastard.
AlphaGrip AG-5 PC Gaming and Text Entry Controller
When it comes to overly complicated and poorly laid out gaming controllers the AG-5 doesn’t so much take the biscuit but takes several entire biscuit factories. In other words it’s a mess.
The device carries as many as 42 buttons which are suppose to carry out everyday PC activities including gaming into one compact package. As if this thing didn’t look bizarre enough, SIX of the buttons are shift keys.
Gaming Kick has a theory that this controller has possibly been made by a company who were simply thinking ahead and it is actually targeted at mutants and/or aliens from the future.
Title image courtesy of blakespot