What’s the best controller ever made?

There have been a lot of amazing controllers over the years. Each have their merits. Each have their drawbacks. But which is the best? We ran a mini-version of this as a poll on our Facebook page. The community decided that the PS4 was the better controller. But I’m not sure I agree.

I’m afraid that this list focuses on official console controllers. Mostly because I don’t game on a PC with a controller, and avoid non-official hardware. But also because there are so many independent controller manufacturers that this list would be never ending. BUT if you have a favorite non-official, or PC based, controller – let me know in the comments below!

Wii

The Wii’s controller and nunchuck were pretty revolutionary at the time. It set the tone for most motion controlled gaming experiences (including PlayStation Move). They worked really well, and they still feel pretty special in your hand – even 10 years after the console’s release. But, for all their sleek curves and motion sensing prowess, they’re still not my number one controller set.

SNES

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For me, the simplest and most elegant controller is the SNES’s. It’s sleek, it’s small, and it does the job. It also excites a sense of nostalgia in me – mostly because of it’s minimal 90s design, plus the fact that it was one of the first consoles I gamed on. Even its silhouette is recognisable. But it isn’t the best, in my opinion.

PlayStation One (original DualShock)

The original DualShock controller, with its analogue sticks, was the bomb. Having a vibrating controller in your hand might seem like the statusquo now, but in the late 90s it was pretty unique. Having that extra sensory component to your gaming experience was awesome, and the DualShock raised the bar for subsequent controllers. But it’s not the greatest… not quite.

PlayStation 4

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The PS4’s controller is awesome. It’s sturdy, it has its own internal rechargeable battery, and it even has a cool light. The lights are two fold, in fact. Firstly, it helps you to differentiate between the players for local multiplayer. Secondly, they work with PlayStation VR for tracking whilst playing VR games. It’s probably one of the best designed and manufactured controllers currently out there – this coming from a guy who owns an Xbox One! Buuuut. It’s not the best.

Dreamcast

The Dreamcast, remember that? It wasn’t the most successful of consoles, but by golly was the controller weird. It was massive, had a random screen in the middle and looked a lot like an alien spaceship. Or something off Star Trek. That being said, it was bloody unique. And for that, it makes the list. But it’s far from the greatest.

Xbox 360

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Here we are. The one. The only. The Xbox 360 controller. In my opinion the Xbox 360 controller was, and still is, the best controller ever made. It felt sturdy (much like the PS4’s). It was a decent size; not too big, not too small. The analogue sticks were responsive, and I loved the fact that they weren’t directly next to each other. Plus the D-Pad was well utilised, other than ‘just there’. And, by the end of it all, there were some awesome official designs available (as highlighted above!).


So, for me, the Xbox 360’s controller was the best. To be honest, it wasn’t even a close call. I would put the Xbox One’s controller on here, and maybe even the Kinect. But the One’s controller feels a little flimsy – almost a step back from the 360’s. And the Kinect, despite being initially impressed, has been a monumental pain in the arse (both generations). But I’m sure you’ll have a different opinion. So let me know in the comments below!

  • Brad Marcus Kirchhoff

    Only one I cant stand is the xbox controllers layout. Our minds have trouble trying to control the analogs when not parallel to one another. For an example of this science refer to the old “pat ur head and rub ur belly at the same time” thing ppl used to do. Something that simple can confuse our mind so it takes a lot more getting used to. Even still its not a natural movement. Can cause headaches and possible nausea.

    • That’s an interesting point. Never really thought of it like that – I don’t have any issues with the analogue sticks, though.

  • Brad Marcus Kirchhoff

    Only one I cant stand is the xbox controllers layout. Our minds have trouble trying to control the analogs when not parallel to one another. For an example of this science refer to the old “pat ur head and rub ur belly at the same time” thing ppl used to do. Something that simple can confuse our mind so it takes a lot more getting used to. Even still its not a natural movement. Can cause headaches and possible nausea.

    • That’s an interesting point. Never really thought of it like that – I don’t have any issues with the analogue sticks, though.

  • Val Ser

    i have simmetric hands… i’m comfortable with simmetric pads… Dualshock is the best for this. Never felt right the xbox one

    • The more people point out the symmetry of the Dualshock the more I’m worried I’ll be conscious of my Xbox One controller’s lack thereof.

      • Val Ser

        Yes captain. You have to worry. A lot. The same way you did by writting that useless message.

  • Val Ser

    i have simmetric hands… i’m comfortable with simmetric pads… Dualshock is the best for this. Never felt right the xbox one

    • The more people point out the symmetry of the Dualshock the more I’m worried I’ll be conscious of my Xbox One controller’s lack thereof.

      • Val Ser

        Yes captain. You have to worry. A lot. The same way you did by writting that useless message.

  • Darren McCoy

    Snes for 2D. The N64 had an amazing analogue stick and Z-trigger (first mainstream rumble). The Gamecube pad was amazing, only downsides were the D-pad and single Z button near the right trigger. Loved the analogue triggers with final click at the bottom. The 360 pad was very good but the D-pad was terrible and so were the batteries. I honestly think the Dualshock 4 Is the best all round controller at an affordable price.

    • Be interested to know why you didn’t like the D-Pad on the 360 controller?

      There’s something oddly satisfying about the click of an analogue stick – I wish games utilised it more often.

      • Darren McCoy

        I found it mushy and imprecise.

        • Yeah, I get that. Though I think the mushyness was why I liked it – felt similar to the analogue sticks… kind of.

    • I never really used the D-pad as I always stick to the analog sticks. But I can see how it has been massively improved on the newer controllers.

  • Darren McCoy

    Snes for 2D. The N64 had an amazing analogue stick and Z-trigger (first mainstream rumble). The Gamecube pad was amazing, only downsides were the D-pad and single Z button near the right trigger. Loved the analogue triggers with final click at the bottom. The 360 pad was very good but the D-pad was terrible and so were the batteries. I honestly think the Dualshock 4 Is the best all round controller at an affordable price.

    • Be interested to know why you didn’t like the D-Pad on the 360 controller?

      There’s something oddly satisfying about the click of an analogue stick – I wish games utilised it more often.

      • Darren McCoy

        I found it mushy and imprecise.

        • Yeah, I get that. Though I think the mushyness was why I liked it – felt similar to the analogue sticks… kind of.

    • I never really used the D-pad as I always stick to the analog sticks. But I can see how it has been massively improved on the newer controllers.

  • Sean Castillo

    The 360’s d-pad is not a good d-pad.

    • Be interested to know why you didn’t like the d-pad!

      • styl7ty

        It’s imprecise by design.

  • Sean Castillo

    The 360’s d-pad is not a good d-pad.

    • Be interested to know why you didn’t like the d-pad!

      • styl7ty

        It’s imprecise by design.

  • Jeremy Sharp

    The PS1-PS3 controller felt fragile, small & the analog sticks seemed too close to one another. The 360 controller had the battery pack on the bottom that got in the way. The PS4 controller fells much more sturdy than the older DS controllers. The Xbone controller has picky bumper buttons. All of the Nintendo controllers were meh…

    The Xbone elite controller is my favorite and it fixed the deadzones of the OG Xbone controller. Although, it is not the most affordable price.

    • I’ve only used the Elite once, at a gaming convention, and I panicked because I kept accidentally tapping the paddles on the back. Would you say it’s worth the money?

  • Jeremy Sharp

    The PS1-PS3 controller felt fragile, small & the analog sticks seemed too close to one another. The 360 controller had the battery pack on the bottom that got in the way. The PS4 controller fells much more sturdy than the older DS controllers. The Xbone controller has picky bumper buttons. All of the Nintendo controllers were meh…

    The Xbone elite controller is my favorite and it fixed the deadzones of the OG Xbone controller. Although, it is not the most affordable price.

    • I’ve only used the Elite once, at a gaming convention, and I panicked because I kept accidentally tapping the paddles on the back. Would you say it’s worth the money?

  • Sulaiman AL-BaKr

    For me were:
    Sega genesis (still the best) ,Dreamcast, ps23 and ps4 controller (the second after SG ).

    • I did play the Genesis, but only when I visited friends, as we were a Nintendo household early days. I did like the controller, though. And I loved me some Sonic.

  • Sulaiman AL-BaKr

    For me were:
    Sega genesis (still the best) ,Dreamcast, ps23 and ps4 controller (the second after SG ).

    • I did play the Genesis, but only when I visited friends, as we were a Nintendo household early days. I did like the controller, though. And I loved me some Sonic.

  • hvd hvd

    snes and xbox nothing else comes close.

    • Original Xbox? The SNES is one of my all time faves – so simple.

      • hvd hvd

        yea back in the day when i had a snes i loved that controller.i ment all xbox controllers beat anything else from xbox to the xbox one.

        • The SNES was the bomb. Way better than the N64. Never used the original Xbox controller. The current One controller feels a little flimsy to me. But I LOVE my Xbox One Lunar design controller (white, black and gold).

          • hvd hvd

            the og xbox controller was the same designpretty much but the xbox one controller just w it feels in your hand is the best one out.

    • The xbox original controllers were massive! I have big hands but there were something else ha.

      • hvd hvd

        to me any xbox controller is better then anything else out there.

  • hvd hvd

    snes and xbox nothing else comes close.

    • Original Xbox? The SNES is one of my all time faves – so simple.

      • hvd hvd

        yea back in the day when i had a snes i loved that controller.i ment all xbox controllers beat anything else from xbox to the xbox one.

        • The SNES was the bomb. Way better than the N64. Never used the original Xbox controller. The current One controller feels a little flimsy to me. But I LOVE my Xbox One Lunar design controller (white, black and gold).

          • hvd hvd

            the og xbox controller was the same designpretty much but the xbox one controller just w it feels in your hand is the best one out.

    • The xbox original controllers were massive! I have big hands but there were something else ha.

      • hvd hvd

        to me any xbox controller is better then anything else out there.

  • I once said that there would be no better controller than the Xbox 360 controller but not I hold it in my hand & I now prefer both the Xbox One & PS4 controller more! I do also have to give a shout out to the Gamecube controllers, the original purple ones. They were so much fun to pick up and play with.

  • I once said that there would be no better controller than the Xbox 360 controller but not I hold it in my hand & I now prefer both the Xbox One & PS4 controller more! I do also have to give a shout out to the Gamecube controllers, the original purple ones. They were so much fun to pick up and play with.

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