A Brief History of Video Game Controllers:
Since the 1970s, home video consoles have employed a variety of controllers to allow players to control the action. Here’s a brief look back at some of them:
Joystick – The Atari 2600 had a joystick with a single button.
Keypad – Some early consoles such as the Intellivision had a keypad that resembles the number pad on a modern computer keyboard.
Gamepad – The Nintendo Entertainment System launched with a controller that includes many staples used to this day—the start button, a directional pad (or d-pad) for movement, and a pair of buttons.
Power Glove – This secondary controller for the NES was placed over a player’s hand. It was featured prominently in “The Wizard.”
Light Guns – Light guns such as the NES Zapper and the Sega Menacer were used to simulate shooting a gun at the screen, in games like “Duck Hunt.”
Analog Gamepad – Later controllers such as those for the Nintendo 64 and Playstation (Dual Shock) introduce full analog
control through a small stick or knob. This allowed greater precision in
Wii Controller – Using a combination of gyroscopes and sensors, the Wii remote combined a set of buttons similar to the original Nintendo controller with this technology to allow for motion control. Similarly used with the Playstation Move.
Kinect – This motion-sensing technology used no physical control at all, and instead employs a pair of cameras to track a player’s movement.
Nintendo’s new video game console, the Wii U, launches on Sunday, November 18th. The system will feature high-definition graphics and a wide variety of games across many genres. However, one of the most distinctive features of the Wii U is the system's very unique controller.
The Wii U’s gamepad merges together the more traditional style of controller with a tablet-like touchscreen in the center.
This allows players to see the action on the screen. Some games can be played in full on the gamepad, even allowing another person to watch another program on the TV screen while playing. Other games offer supplementary information, such as a map display.
The new gamepad also allows for what Nintendo calls “asymmetric gameplay.” One example the company provides is New Super Mario Brothers U, a launch title. One player, with the traditional gamepad, can put down blocks to help (or hurt) other players using more traditional controllers.
At launch, the Wii U (both Basic and Deluxe models) will come with one of these gamepads. In North America, additional gamepads will not be sold at launch. However, no titles at launch support more than one gamepad at a time. Instead, other players can use controllers from Nintendo’s previous video game console, the Wii.
However, a “Pro” controller will be available at launch. This is a more traditional style of controller, with no touchscreen built in.
The Wii U launches November 18th in North America.