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Top 10 Worst Controllers

6.  Sega Dreamcast Controller

Our esteemed leader NerdBerry may spend his time holding all things Dreamcast in high regard (such as its controller), but I have quite a different opinion of this misshapen beast.  From the get-go it looks like a mutated Batman symbol and its comfort level is equal to that of a hemorrhoid.  The buttons are responsive, the analog stick is nice, and everything is easy enough to reach while playing a game, but the unit is also bulky, dotted with seemingly pointless design features, and damn ugly.

Dreamcast Controller

The worst component of the Dreamcast controller is the way the player is forced to grip it.  Instead of having a flat surface like many older controllers or a substantial mound to support the hand’s natural shape that was finding its way into controller design at the time, it uses two weird “handles.”  I can’t think of a great word to describe the part that’s supposed to be held.  It’s a narrow portion of plastic that forces user’s fingers to wrap around and touch the back of the controller.  In normal devices, the pads of the fingers are usually what rests on the back, but in this case, the fingers are turned inward so that the fingertips are jammed into the back of the controller and the pads are resting on the interior surface of this “handle.”

Imagine a steering wheel.  Notice how the fingers go back and come up and through the gap to meet the thumb.  Now image that the gap is closed flush with the front of the steering wheel.  The thumb rests on top, but as one bends their fingers towards the back, they’re unable to follow through and end up slamming into the obstruction.  That’s what the Dreamcast controller does, and I could go on for an hour or two about how uncomfortable this position is.

Dreamcast Controller (Back)Oh, and I almost forgot to mention how unnatural it feels to continuously use the triggers.  Not only must one deal with the abysmal grip, but the triggers are placed at a somewhat awkward position.  When the point at which the index fingers are applying pressure is coupled with where the thumbs are busy pressing buttons it throws the whole thing a bit off balance since the user can’t fully rely on their own palms for support.  Seriously why the hell was this made!!??

Another noticeable aberration is the cable which terminates at the bottom of the controller.  I understand Sega’s desire for the rumble pack and VMU to be inserted into the top, but it seems like they could’ve come up with better cord placement.  There’s no real way around it either.  No matter how you’re sitting the cable is always kind of crumpled up underneath.  Sega did have the courtesy to place a small indentation on the back meant to hold the cable but it doesn’t always work very well.  Even on controllers of mine where the depression does succeed at holding the cord I don’t use it for fear of putting undue strain on the portion of the cable that meets the controller.  This is a prime place for shorts in the wiring to occur and I don’t want to put any pressure on it that isn’t absolutely necessary.

Dreamcast Controller (Top)Finally, the Dreamcast controller includes a giant gaping hole up top, like it’s had its brain removed.  This large bay was made for not one but two devices, the VMU (acts as the DC’s memory card, among other things) and the Jump Pack (the DC’s rumble pack).  VMU insertion is almost mandatory if you plan on saving any games, so most people will find that a VMU will take up permanent residence in at least one of their Dreamcast controllers.  Although I’m not one to go crazy over haptic feedback obviously there are folks out there that love their rumbles and they probably would prefer to keep their Jump Pak locked in their controller as well.  With both in place, the controller becomes even more bulky and unwieldy and worst of all off balance.

Dreamcast Controller (with Accessories)

By the time you’re ready to go, you’ve got all the extra stuff pulling downward on the controller, thereby pushing the bottom-terminating cord upwards even more in your way and the downward force makes gripping the controller even more uncomfortable because all the wrong parts of your hands are forced to bear the burden of memory and motion.

Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit.  It’s not that bad, but it is an ill-designed piece of equipment.  I like the Dreamcast as much as the next guy but I nearly cringe at the thought of picking up one of the controllers.

Written by The Cubist

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