Over the years, controllers have evolved in many shapes and sizes. They are a testament to how ergonomic design has evolved throughout the years. How they changed from hand-straining blocky joysticks to palm-testing rectangular joypads, then to the comfier ‘dog bone’ look with handles that nearly every pad today uses.
By the time Sony’s PlayStation hit the market, this became the go-to design. On the surface, their pads don’t have much changed from Nintendo’s Wiimotes and Gamepads. Their pads have changed, however. launch-day controllers still show how they’ve changed things up over the years, with some turning out better than others.
5/5 PlayStation Controller
3D graphics was the most revolutionary technology of the 1990s and the original PlayStation was at the forefront. However, the original controller showed that many changes were still to come. The controller was basically an upgrade to the SNES controller. It had handles for better gripping and an additional button per shoulder. The color-coded symbols helped it stand out compared to Nintendo and Sega’s letter-coded ones too.
While it was good enough for 1994-1996, the controller got left behind when the Nintendo 64’s triple-pronged trident-looking pad introduced an analogue stick for smoother 3D movement, a movable camera via the C buttons, and a slot for the vibration-inducing Rumble Pak. The PS1 controller looked so old that Sony replaced it with Dual Analog/DualShock controllers in 1997.
While Sony’s attempt to keep up with Nintendo worked with the DualShock, it failed for the PS3’s SixAxis. First, its banana-shaped prototype design was as scorned as the console’s high price tag, leading to the final design resembling the original DualShock controller. Second, its Wii-like motion controls weren’t so good, being wonky even in games that used them mildly like the first Uncharted game. These features were almost gone from PS3 by the time that the 2010s started.
It also eliminated the rumble function. The vibrations were almost as important as analog sticks. Yet Sony acted like it wasn’t important, giving the excuse that it interfered with the motion controls. Sony actually took it out of court because they were involved in a patent dispute against Immersion Corporation. After the dispute was resolved, Sony returned the rumble with the DualShock 3 and left the SixAxis bog standard behind.
3/5 DualShock 2
Sony never had such trouble with the PS2’s launch controller. It was basically the same controller as the original DualShock controller. The PS1 controllers could also be used with the PS2. If push came to shove, players could’ve gotten the machine on its own, then use their old DualShocks on it. That is until they played a game that needed the DualShock 2’s pressure sensitive buttons.
Players could choose to perform different actions depending upon how they pressed them. It was quite innovative in theory, but it was not practical. CQC attacks are an example of this. Metal Gear Solid 3 These were hard to do because it depended on how firm or light players pressed their Circle button. They made racing games more enjoyable by making acceleration more responsive.
2/5 DualShock 4
Sony’s PS4 was a great leap back into the limelight, even though Microsoft botched its Xbox One launch. Sony was showing off the Dual Shock 4 controller while they were trying promote the Kinect, always-online DRM and other key features. The DualShock 4 controller stood out amongst a sea of nearly identical pads after almost 20 years. It was equipped with new and fancy functions, such as a speaker that imitates the Wiimote and a lightbar to provide immersion or to show which character is being controlled.
It also featured a headphone jack to allow online communication and a Share Button that allows you to share fun moments in gameplay as either a screenshot or video clip and then upload them to YouTube or other social media. It did not have motion controls. They were more used to mix drinks or create novelty effects. Fist of the North Star, Lost Paradise. The touchpad was similar to the PS Vita and could be pressed in or swiped. While it wasn’t as durable as its later editions, the launch day PS4 controller is still a reliable pad for the machine.
The PS5’s relatively new DualSense controller has all the same functions as the DualShock 4. The new DualSense controller for PS5 has an improved battery life, speaker, microphone, voice typing function, USB-C port for charging, as well as a removable section to replace the analogue sticks if necessary. This is fine, but not as exciting as the new color scheme.
This is where the DualSense part in its name comes in. It expands upon the vibration function and the DualShock 4’s pressure-sensitive triggers by implementing force-feedback. Players can now feel how rough a storm is or how turbulent it can become through its handles. Next, they can feel how tight the pullstrings can get when they press the triggers. This controller is one of the most tactile on the PlayStation’s launchpads.
More: Ranked Every PS5 DualSense Controller Feature
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