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Top 10 Worst Controllers

1.  Philips CD-i Remote Controllers

The Philips CD-i had at least 2 different remotes released alongside their failed media player/gaming console and from this list’s inception I’ve always known that these would hold the top spot.  Both remotes are actually pretty cool in their own right, especially for the mid-90’s, but as game controllers they fail miserably.  I’ve had the chance to play with both of them; the one on the right is now in the hands of NerdBerry while the second one is lying around my room…somewhere.  It’s so difficult to play a game with either of them that I’ll resist going into too many details contrasting the 2, but I found the first one to be slightly more conducive to gameplay (mostly due to its grip) despite how much more “gamey” the second one looks.

Philips CD-i Remote #1 (Closed)

Philips CD-i Remote #1 (Closed)

Philips CD-i Remote #2

Philips CD-i Remote #2

While both have the advantage of being wireless “controllers” circa 1994, this in no way makes up for their generally poor performance.  The CD-i is exceptionally responsive unlike what you might expect; whoever designed the technology allowing the remote and the system to communicate did a great job.  It’s a shame the CD-i never really could decide what it wanted to be because there was a decent bit of power behind the bulky unit.

Philips CD-i Remote #1 (Open)

Philips CD-i Remote #1 (Open)

The first remote contains a sort of pad where the user can navigate pushing on the right side of the pad, or the top, etc. and in many instances functions similar to a mouse.  Problems lie in the fact that it’s not well suited to hold down for long periods of time and there isn’t enough feedback to provide the user with the ability to repeatedly use each of the 4 directions as is possible with a conventional D-pad.  Although the joystick on the second remote would initially signal a resolution to this issue, the grip required to use it is quite sub-optimal.  Too small to be grasped with the index finger and thumb, one must hold the remote with the right hand and use the right thumb to move around.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds and it poses difficulties for those of us who’ve been used to controlling movement with our left thumb.  The first remote also requires the use of the right thumb, however the grip is much more natural since the pad is much more level with the surface

Merely learning how to move will pose a significant threat to your progress in .CD-i games, but the real difficulty is handling whatever actions need to be performed.  I suppose the idea was to only use one’s right thumb to control everything, but this becomes almost impossible in more conventional video gaming situations such as running and jumping.  No longer can the user count on the coordination between left and right hands for activities that involve split-second changes or implementations of directional and action buttons.  Instead, Philips thinks that everyone will instantly retrain their right thumbs to accommodate the position your had would be in if you were channel surfing.

Another Philips CD-i Controller

Another Philips CD-i Controller


Another Philips CD-i Controller

Another Philips CD-i Controller








I wouldn’t say you ever really get used to it, but it can get a little easier.  One alternative I frequently employ when using remotes is using both hands, almost as I would on a traditional controller.  Sure, things get a little cramped with both hands on the device, but it is a reasonably effective technique.  I use my left thumb to control direction as I would normally and keep my right thumb hovering over the action(s) button(s).  This may not be a feasible solution for those with big hands though it is something to consider if you’re having extreme difficulty.

Another Philips CD-i Controller

Another Philips CD-i Controller


Another Philips CD-i Controller

Another Philips CD-i Controller







Philips would later commit the CD-i to the video game market but it was too late.  Realizing the error of their ways and attempting to at least partially address it, a “normal” controller was finally released late in the unit’s commercial life.  These little guys are just as effective as any controller and as a bonus can be flipped over for lefties.  Too bad they didn’t come out with them earlier or make more of them, nowadays they’re difficult to find outside of a CD-i bundle and even then the majority of secondhand CD-i’s for sale on the web include only one of the 2 remotes.

The PREFERRED Philips CD-i Controller

The PREFERRED Philips CD-i Controller

Don’t let this dissuade you from pursuing your dreams of CD-i ownership.  You’ve got to remember that there’s a reason why failed systems failed in the first place and be prepared for an imperfect experience.  The CD-i is one of the greatest machines to brag about that people may have actually heard of, and as a matter of fact, many of the games are perfectly compatible with a point-and-click style of control; it’s not as if the system was loaded with platformers.  Voyeurfor instance, is a grand change of pace from the typical video game, wonderfully suited to the style of control offered by a remote.

Written by The Cubist

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  1. NerdBerry
    NerdBerry says:

    oh, and i had #1. not the sleeker one. mine has the slide out thingy

    • Bran Sticks Sr says:

      I believe the one you have is the one that was shipped out with mine!!
      It was in the picture, so I am hoping that it all works out
      So, what do you have to do?
      Just turn it sideways, and play it like a Wii Nunchuk?
      I guess Philips didn’t get the memo back then, that people used BOTH hands for a controller : (

  2. Bran Sticks Sr says:

    Wow, I really liked this article
    I have just purchased a CD-I, and am waiting on it to arrive
    It’s indeed frustrating, the preferred controller for this console is so hard to get and ridiculously expensive
    And every console I have seen comes only with the remote, or the “spoon”, as I have often heard it called
    I am glad to hear that the remote can actually be used for gaming
    I reckon it’ll be like playing with the Wii remote, only not as smooth : (
    One of the games I’ve been dying to play is the APPRENTICE
    I have heard that game is tough, but I enjoy a good challenge
    : )

    • NerdBerry
      NerdBerry says:

      dude i dont own the cdi wired controller, only the “spoon” which is such an unresponsive stiff POS! but man was it cool and cutting edge for its time.


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