Game controllers have evolved over time. But you know what hasn't? Common sense.
This is one of those things that really pisses me off. Really grinds me gears. I'm not usually an angry or obsessive person, but when society devises a great solution to a problem then throws it out the window, it really upsets me. Like, what ever happened to Dvorak? No, we're stuck with these shitty subpar QWERTY keyboards. God forbid we adopt the more thoughtful solution! I thought this is what capitalism was supposed to be good for.
Anyway, we started out with paddles and TV remote-looking things for those old Atari systems. Then Nintendo graced us with this:
Huzzah! The heavenly d-pad! It was revolutionary. Also, it only had TWO BUTTONS. No shoulder buttons, no X or Y. It was simple, and it worked. Then things got more complicated.
You see, Sega wanted us to be able to light punch, medium punch, heavy punch, light kick, medium kick, and heavy kick, and they dropped this bomb on us:
Meanwhile Nintendo added some extra buttons too, but with shoulder buttons it wasn't a total monstrosity like Sega's.
Not bad! It's even kinda semantic: A/B are visually grouped, as are X/Y. On the US version, A/B were concave while X/Y were convex. This signals to the player that these buttons have a different semantic purpose. X/Y are secondary inputs, meant for performing some less critical actions. Nicely done.
This "4 circle buttons in a diamond shape" layout caught on. Virtually every game controller afterwards has followed this example. From Xbox to PlayStation to Nintendo's own controllers.
Today's high-end gaming controllers all utilize this layout. Old habits die hard, I guess. It's a great layout, right? WRONG. Don't forget the controller that perfected it!
I know what you're thinking: "Oh, a Smash Bros fanboy." Or maybe, "Take off your rose-colored goggles, you nostalgia-snob." But no, hear me out. This controller isn't even that great, okay? I don't love it. But my god, the button layout is perfect! Nothing comes close to this. It's actually S E M A N T I C. Yes, semantic! Anyone who has never touched a game controller in their life can approach this. How do you advance? Ah, you press the big green button! Yes. When you hold it, where does your thumb go? Yes, the main, primary button.
The B button is also a main button. It's red to signify that! And it's positioned just diagonally of the A button. Its position signals its semantic purpose - a button of importance, which compliments A. Wanna cancel an action? Press this, it's red.
Now, X and Y are still here, they're still very easy to access. But they are secondary buttons, and their shape and position communicates this very well. They are gray, so there is no confusion. It could be an attack, but it's probably a map or an inventory screen. There is so much information conveyed just in the shape, color, and position of these buttons! It's really genius, and this is critical information I have come to expect a controller to communicate via its design.
When you put your thumb over a modern controller, where does it go? Ohhh nooo, which button do you press??! GameCube controller doesn't have that problem. What the hell happened? We took a thoughtful, semantic design and just threw it out the window. This is an injustice and I won't stand for it anymore.
So without further ado, here is my appeal for the perfect video game controller. Will someone please make this? And please make it use a standardized protocol too, unlike the Switch controller.