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The Evolution of the Video Game Controller

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Video game controllers have been evolving over the years as dramatically as the consoles. From the blocky, simplistic nature of controllers from the early ‘70s to the revitalized, futuristic look of the PlayStation 5’s upcoming DualSense controller, these peripherals are no stranger to change.

1972: Magnavox Odyssey

JEFF KEYZER

The Magnavox Odyssey was the first commercial gaming system, and its controllers were rudimentary, but effective. Each tan box included a plastic knob on the top, which allowed for both vertical and horizontal movement. While simplistic, these “boxes” were perfect for games like Table Tennis, and were known as the first “joysticks” that could be used for gaming at home.

1974: Pong

EVAN AMOS

Atari’s arcade game Pong (essentially Table Tennis) was popular enough to spawn several at-home controllers, including Sears’ imitator and several others. Both controllers were simply built into the machine and sold as “Pong systems” that people could purchase and enjoy at home, like bringing the arcade to them. This spurred on a lawsuit from Magnavox in an attempt to quell companies looking to capitalize on the tech.

1977: Atari 2600

WAHYU ICHWANDARDIGETTY IMAGES

Though companies like Sega and Taito had long incorporated the standard “joystick” form factor as we know it (handed down through aviation technology), Atari introduced the first home one-button joystick for its multi-game console, the Atari 2600, in 1977. For many years, this simple design became the standard for home consoles and arcade cabinets, with variations constantly hitting the market.

1983: Family Computer

EVAN AMOS

Nintendo’s introduction of the Japanese Family Computer brought with it a drastically different controller. It featured a red and gold rectangular brick-like design with a cross-shaped directional pad, two round buttons labeled “A” and “B”, and “Start” and “Select” buttons.

The Family Computer, or “Famicom” as it was nicknamed, had two controllers hardwired to the back of the system. The second controller featured a microphone in addition to the face buttons, which only a handful of games used.

1985: Nintendo Entertainment System

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The Famicom’s controllers became the blueprint for the North American version of the console that debuted in 1985, the Nintendo Entertainment System. The NES’s controller was less rounded and more angular, with a black, gray, and red color scheme. The NES’s controllers could be detached and reattached from the system at will, and retained the same buttons but ditched the second controller’s microphone. This simple-yet-effective design caught on as a global phenomenon and totally transformed the way companies began designing similar peripherals.

Later, when the Super Famicom and Super Nintendo controllers would debut in the early ‘90s, their gamepads would abandon the blocky, rectangular nature seen in the Famicom and NES versions and add more face and shoulder buttons.

1988: Sega Mega Drive

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With the debut of the Sega Mega Drive in Japan, Sega introduced another iteration on the rectangular controller, even adopting a similar format for its previous console, the Sega Master System. The Mega Drive debuted in 1988 and later made its way to North America as the Sega Genesis in 1989. Its controller was rounded with a directional pad, three main buttons, and a “start” button.

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It was a hit, especially with the extra button’s functionality. Later on in 1993, Sega debuted a smaller pad with three additional face buttons as a new six-button controller for even more options in games like Street Fighter II.

1994: PlayStation

JZH2074 / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Sony Computer Entertainment debuted the PlayStation, alongside a drastically different gamepad. The original form factor included a directional pad, a “start” and “select” button, and four face buttons with a green triangle, blue cross, red circle, and pink square. It also included shoulder buttons on top of the controller, which were used for additional functionality. The face button shapes would become synonymous with the system throughout the PlayStation’s future iterations.

1996: Nintendo 64

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Nintendo’s next console following the Super Nintendo in the early ’90s introduced a revolutionary new controller. The Nintendo 64 came packing a very odd, three-pronged gamepad that was different than anything that came before it. The M-shaped controller featured a a directional pad, a center “Start” button, both “A” and “B” buttons, and four yellow directional buttons labeled “C”.

In addition to shoulder buttons and a back trigger, it featured an analog stick on the middle prong. Users could reposition their grip on the controller as games required, but the analog stick was the biggest game changer of the entire experience.

1998: PlayStation (DualShock)

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The original PlayStation was still on the market in 1998, but Sony did something to revitalize the system and the way users played games. It introduced the DualShock PlayStation controller. It added two analog sticks at the bottom of the controller as well as a rumble functionality that would shake when players performed certain actions in-game. This was similar to the Nintendo 64’s optional Rumble Pak accessory, instead built into the controller itself.

The introduction of the DualShock was an important turning point for PlayStation as a whole, as the controller design has remained largely the same over the years save for small improvements throughout iterations, with the DualShock 2 DualShock 3 releases adding Bluetooth support and other tweaks, but remaining mostly similar to this original revolutionary debut.

2001: GameCube

EVAN AMOS / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The GameCube controller was a refreshing change for players who could have felt a bit confused by the Nintendo 64’s design. Instead of using a three-pronged approach, Nintendo went a bit more utilitarian, doubling the number of analog sticks, keeping the “Start” button, and keeping the directional pad and triggers.

It included a large “A” button, a smaller red “B” button, and two kidney-shaped buttons marked “X” and “Y”. The left gray analog stick was for controlling characters, while the yellow stick was, like the Nintendo 64’s earlier “C” buttons, more for camera control.

2001: Xbox

EVAN AMOS / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The Xbox’s debut not only introduced a powerful system, but a completely different controller as well, though it mimicked the Japanese GameCube reveal’s lead in many ways. The original “Duke” Xbox controller wasn’t initially well-received, but ended up going down in history as the prototype for the controller style that’s now become mainstream.

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It included two analog sticks, one at the bottom right and one at the top left of the controller, two analog triggers, a “Back” button and a “Start” button, two accessory slots for a memory card or what-have-you, and six analog buttons: A/Green, B/Red, X/Blue, and Y/Yellow. While it was bulky and heavy, it was eventually redesigned as the “Controller S” later on in 2002 and replaced the original Duke.

2005: Xbox 360

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The Xbox 360 was a total refinement of the Xbox “Duke” controller, so much so that it became one of gamers’ preferred options for use with PC games and other gamepad solutions. It was lightweight, came in multiple colors, and revamped everything people hated about the Xbox controller, including ditching the cord and going wireless.

It featured two asymmetrical analog sticks with rubberized grips, a directional pad, four face buttons that mirrored the original Xbox design, “Start” and “Back” buttons, and a middle Xbox-shaped button that was used to turn the controller on and sync with the system. It also featured singular triggers on the back as well as a reset button. The Xbox One barely changed the design for its refinement later on, save for making it a much lighter, more svelte design, and adding different “menu” options.

2006: Wii

EVAN AMOS / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Ever the innovator, Nintendo once again introduced a completely new form factor for its controller and system, revolutionizing the way we play games. With the introduction of the Wii remote and Nunchuk accessory, Nintendo popularized motion control by way of offering a “remote” instead of a controller.

The Wii Remote’s motion-sensing capability was brought to life via optical sensor bar that tracked player movements. Players could move the remote around and point at things onscreen, then press buttons on the remote to execute actions. The included Nunchuk was typically used for exploration or navigation.

The Wii Remote was meant to be held like a traditional remote, with a small power button, directional pad, a large A button, “plus”, “Home”, and “minus” buttons, a speaker, and “1” and “2” buttons. On the back a trigger was available. For some games, the Wii Remote could be turned horizontally to play. Most games relied on the Nunchuk to be plugged into the bottom of the remote.

2012: Wii U

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The Wii U was another of Nintendo’s most ambitious projects, and its controller was massively important for one huge reason: it was integral to the system. You couldn’t use the Wii U without its massive Gamepad, which doubled as a second screen with touch capabilities.

The Gamepad featured two analog sticks on either side of a large screen as well as a directional pad, front-facing camera, four face buttons (X, A, Y, and B), “Start” and “Select” buttons, as well as a full suite of navigational buttons. These included “Home”, “TV”, “Power”, and also a mic. There was a button to switch from gaming on your TV screen to the Wii U Gamepad as well. If you preferred, you could use a stylus with the touch screen or just use your fingers. The back of the Gamepad included triggers.

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You could also pair up a Pro Controller with the Gamepad or use a Wii remote, but the Gamepad was an absolute requirement. Poor sales cut the Wii U’s life short, but it was an advancement ahead of its time that’s still lauded today.

2017: Nintendo Switch

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Nintendo is a risk-taker, and it took one of the biggest risks of its time within the industry with the Switch. The successor to the Wii U was a handheld-console hybrid with integrated, detachable controllers that fit on either side of the screen called Joy-Con.

This meant every system came with two Joy-Con, each with versions for the left and right sides. The left Joy-Con includes an analog stick on the top of the controller, four directional buttons, and a button that can snap screenshots. If detached and turned on its side, like the other side, it has two shoulder buttons. On the top right when held vertically, it has a “minus” button.

The right Joy-Con has a “plus” button on the top left, with four face buttons beside it: “X, Y, A, and B”. Beneath that is an analog stick, and below that is the “Home” button to go back to the main menu.

Both Joy-Con controllers include the HD rumble feature which makes for some impressive effects. They can also be used as Wii remote-like controllers instead of acting as a part of the Switch’s makeup. These aren’t required for the Switch, but are needed for some games. You can alternatively use wired or wireless first and third-party controller options like the Pro Controller, which is a more traditional form factor.

2020: PlayStation DualSense

SONY / PLAYSTATION

The PlayStation 5 is here, and with it Sony introduced the newest iteration of its DualShock lineage, now being called DualSense. The base model is white and black, with many of the same functions of a PlayStation 4 controller, but a brand new look to go with it all.

There’s a directional pad, two rubberized analog sticks, a large central touchpad with lighting surrounding it that’s meant to change with the games that you play, and two buttons flanking it. Those are the “Create” and “Options” selections.

There will continue to be L1, L2, R1, and R2 triggers on the top of the controller, with the same triangle, circle, cross, and square face buttons as well as a speaker and microphone on the front. But one of its most interesting additions is its new haptic feedback, which is said to completely change up how we interact with rumbling controllers.

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GAMES

Next Week on Xbox: January 17 to 21

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Welcome to Next Week on Xbox! In this weekly feature, we cover all the new games coming soon to Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Windows PC as well as upcoming Xbox Game Pass and soon-to-be released [email protected] games! You can get more details on these games below and click their profiles for pre-order details when available (release dates are subject to change). Let’s jump in!


Nobody Saves the World – January 18 – Xbox Game Pass ● PC Game Pass ● Optimized for Xbox Series X|S ● Smart Delivery

Available on day one with Game Pass. When the ancient Calamity re-awakens, who can save the world? Nobody! (That’s you, you’re Nobody.) Master the art of transformation to become a Slug, Ghost, Dragon, and more. Combine your forms to create powerful hybrids and defeat the forces of evil. Join a friend for online co-op and save the world together! Available on Cloud, Console, and PC.


Dysmantle – January 19 – Optimized for Xbox Series X|S ● Smart Delivery

Dysmantle – January 19 - Optimized for Xbox Series X|S ● Smart Delivery

As you ascend from your shelter after many years, a brave new old world awaits you. A world inhabited with nasty and vile creatures. A world with no other human soul to be seen. A world with nature in reigns now. You need to find a way to escape the wretched island… But before that, enjoy the bittersweet apocalypse.


Blackwind – January 20 – Optimized for Xbox Series X|S ● Smart Delivery

Blackwind – January 20 - Optimized for Xbox Series X|S ● Smart Delivery

A top-down sci-fi action game that puts you in the shoes of a teenager trapped inside a prototype battle armor suit during an alien invasion. Face off against enemies, cut through their ranks, and fight back to stop a planetary invasion.

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Downslope – January 20

Downslope – January 20

The Mountain awaits. Face complex, tricky courses as you make your way further and further down the mountain’s slopes. Are you fast enough? Are you skilled enough? There’s only one way to find out.


Hatsune Miku Logic Paint S – January 20

Hatsune Miku Logic Paint S – January 20

New 5×5, 15×15, and 20×20 puzzles have been added along with the puzzles from the smartphone app Hatsune Miku Logic Paint – Mikuogi –. Use the numbers to the top and left to fill in the squares and complete the image and clear the stages to collect artwork of Miku and friends.


Pupperazzi – January 20  – Xbox Game Pass ● PC Game Pass

Pupperazzi – January 20  - Xbox Game Pass ● PC Game Pass

Available on day one with Game Pass. This dog photography game puts your love for pups to the test. As you take better photos, you’ll unlock new breeds, camera lenses, chew toys, and accessories to dress up dogs with. Don’t just pet and play fetch – save your memories of those very good boys and girls on film. Available on Cloud, Console, and PC.


RPGolf Legends – January 20 – Optimized for Xbox Series X|S ● Smart Delivery

RPGolf Legends – January 20 - Optimized for Xbox Series X|S ● Smart Delivery

Join forces with the spirit of a golf club and embark on a fantastic action-golfing adventure to save golf in the world! Travel around in a unique open world where monsters and golf coexist, get your best scores in 6 unique environments, and beat monsters!


Rise of the Third Power – January 20

Rise of the Third Power – January 20

Rise of the Third Power is a retro-themed, console-style roleplaying game, loosely based on the political climate of Europe in the late 1930s. The story takes place in the land of Rin during the height of the Age of Sail, following the events that would lead to the greatest war in human history.

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Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction – January 20 – Xbox Game Pass ● PC Game Pass ● Optimized for Xbox Series X|S ● Smart Delivery

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction – January 20 – Xbox Game Pass ● PC Game Pass ● Optimized for Xbox Series X|S ● Smart Delivery

Available on day one with Game Pass. A tactical 1 to 3 player co-op PvE FPS where you’ll unite the elite Operators from Rainbow Six Siege against a deadly alien threat known as the Archaens. Assemble your team, coordinate your assault, and risk everything to make sure that no one gets left behind! Pre-order now for the bonus pack, Orbital Decay Bundle. Available on Cloud, Console, and PC.


Windjammers 2 – January 20 

Windjammers 2 - January 20 

Available on day one with Game Pass. The best flying disc game of all time is back! With amazing hand-drawn graphics, crazy new moves, gameplay mechanics and awesome new characters and stages, Windjammers 2 is the sequel you’ve been dreaming of. Available on Cloud, Console, and PC.


Gravity Chase – January 21

Gravity Chase – January 21

Welcome to the futuristic anti-gravity arcade racer with a twist. Racing competition takes place on tunnel tracks for super-fast 360-degree Zero G racing where skill and precision piloting are required to follow the optimum line, along with strategic use of pickups, powerups, and weapons to progress through the race series.


Jack ‘n’ Hat – January 21

Jack ‘n’ Hat – January 21

The sinister Dr. Voo Doom has kidnapped the Princess of Ririland and incited a civil war! It’s up to repairman extraordinaire, Jack, and his boomerang hat to save her and restore peace! Jump through 20+ huge levels, collecting crystals, stars and more!


Kinduo – January 21

Kinduo – January 21

A game where two elemental friends overcome obstacles to return to their island. Push boxes, use electricity to connect objects, break ice blocks, blow things up, and more in this cute and colorful game!

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Operation Zeta: Adventure and Annihilation Abound

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We’re excited to announce Operation Zeta, our third game in the Inevitability universe. Set in the same galaxy as its predecessors, this game was a totally new style for us; a jaunty rogue-lite, space action game. In this installment, you will navigate the warzone of Operation Zeta (a failed battle against the galaxy’s vacuous foe: the annihilators) with ten minutes to reconstruct the shambles of a space-wrecked ship and escape your imminent demise…

The pressure is on! beat the clock by mastering a number of harrowing boss battles and timed puzzles. Along the way, you will encounter a host of zany NPCs whose quests will help you rebuild your ship. Upgrade and unlock 13 playable characters each with their own stories and advantages. As you advance, you’ll uncover the lore of the great battle. What sparked the war? What are the factions that divide the galaxy? And who are these pesky purrates (kitty space pirates) that keep stealing your ship parts?

It was important to me that the world felt completely different and immersive with each run of gameplay. Every time the loop resets, the randomly generated landscape changes completely. Baddies, items, parts, planets and quests will reconfigure to change how you experience the galaxy.

One of the more immersive elements of the game is the true to life gravity mechanics you’ll experience while playing. As a longtime sci-fi enthusiast and gamer, I’ve played many outer space themed games. In Operation Zeta, my intention was to make space more than a backdrop. By employing accurate gravity equations at scale, I was able to achieve a realistic space feel – with a very unrealistic cast of super cute characters (like my cat Louie).

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planet screenshot

Annihilation and adventure abound in Operation Zeta. It’s always been my dream to make a game on my console of choice, Xbox. I had an absolute blast making this project, and I hope you have just as much fun playing it! Check it out now on the Xbox store.

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Operation Zeta

SFS Studios LLC


1

$9.99

Operation Zeta is a space action game. The great battle codenamed ‘Operation Zeta’ has been lost. Your ship is in shambles and you have to act quickly to collect all of the parts and repair your ship before the warzone is completely destroyed by the enemy’s death laser. Play and unlock 13 playable characters from space monkeys to mischievous slugs each with their own unique set of skills and challenges. As well unlock new abilities and upgrades with credits you earn during each run. Each time you play the universe is randomly generated with random quests from wacky local aliens who have stolen the parts of your ship. All in a physics based battlefield, but beware as you only have ten minutes until the death laser fires!





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Get Ready for the Mushroom Wars 2 Competitive Scene

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Mushroom Wars 2 is a highly competitive real-time strategy game, where you control handsome little mushroom units. Each battle is short, usually only around five minutes, but it’s a very intensive collision between you and another player. It requires full immersion!

You can prepare yourself by playing the story-driven campaign solo, but none of the computer opponents can compete with the cunning mind of a real human counterpart.

Mushroom Wars 2, a time-proven eSports game, is now available on modern consoles. We asked our community manager for some tips on basic aspects of the game that could be helpful for novice Mushroom Generals.

Attack and Defence

At first glance, the game seems to be all about maths and numbers: IDE with more units should win the battle. But it’s not that simple.

There are defence and attack multipliers, which play a huge role in the game. By getting advantage over your opponent, you can “trade” less units in micro fights.

Ways to increase protection and attack indexes:

– leveling up the building for higher defence

– getting a higher level of morale

– using heroes’ skills, such as Rudo’s Defensive Walls or Ayner’s Rage

– building forges

Amount of Troops

Since the amount of units in opponents’ buildings is hidden, it’s hard to predict if you succeed in an attack, but not impossible. Luckily, there is a bar at the top of the match screen, which shows the sum of troops each player has. It won’t tell you the exact number in each building, but it could give an average value by dividing by the amount of buildings they own.

screebsgit

Morale

Morale might be the most important aspect of the game that prevents the snowball effect. The morale is shown right below the troops amount bar at the top of the battle screen. Levels of morale are visualized with stars.

As it was said before, the more morale you have, the higher attack and defence indexes you get. In addition, the speed of your units is also increasing that affects damage per second coefficient of your army.

What you need to remember: never attack an opponent with two morale levels advantage. It’s very likely that your attack won’t succeed, you’ll just ‘feed’ your enemy and give a free win in most cases.

To increase morale you need to:

– capture buildings

– defend opponent’s attacks

– upgrade buildings

– use some heroes’ active skills

You are losing morale when the following happens:

– your units die on the battlefield

– you lose a building

– inactivity

screebsgit

Snaking

There is a way to send units much more efficiently in a very tight line, and it’s not cheating! It was a bug in the original Mushroom Wars but became a feature in the sequel.

We call this snaking. Snaking can make your attacks more powerful and unpredictable.

To perform snaking you need to:

  1. Choose a building you want to send units from and make sure it has less than 35 units inside.
  2. Choose a building you want to send units to by holding the right bumper button.
  3. Press the B button as fast as you can on the requested building.

We hope that these tips will help you to show your real skill in 1v1 or 2v2 battles. Good luck newborn Mushroom General!

Xbox Live

Mushroom Wars 2

Zillion Whales


8

$19.99

Mushroom Wars 2 is an award-winning sequel to the critically acclaimed RTS hit built upon the core gameplay experience that made the original Mushroom Wars so enjoyable.

Learning the ropes of mushroom warfare is easy with simple and intuitive controls as well as gamepad support. But the journey to become a fearsome commander requires fast reflexes, an eye for strategy, and the ability to oversee up to thousands of units at once.

Once you’re confident in your skills, putting your mushroom army against other players is the best way to improve. Mushroom Wars 2 comes tournament-ready, with a league system and ranked matches that make for fierce competition. In addition replay feature, and spectator mode make it easy to enter the competitive scene. Just want to enjoy a friendly skirmish with your friends? Custom games let you try out new strategies with up to three friends in free-for-all or team-based matches.

Whether you are battling enemy hordes in the the depths of the single-player campaign, or competing against your friends in various multiplayer modes, Mushroom Wars 2 provides intense, fast-paced short-session battles!





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