The gimmick or the gameplay?

While ruminating on what my first Destructoid post would be, I came across Patently Silly, a site dedicated to spotlighting odd ideas and designs that pass through the U.S. patent office — while usually taking humorous stabs at them.

Their game section talks up a plug-and-play fishing and arcade photography game from Namco. While they lampoon the machine, never has a video game gotten further away from the excitement.

I’m geniunely intrigued by the game. But after getting over my mild fascination and giving up trying to find the game online, I got to thinking about how awesome kitschy, gimmicky controllers are.

Read on for a look at some of my favorite off-beat controllers.

Right now, sitting on my living room table is a Dreamcast with the keyboard connected to it, still hot from my girlfriend Marisa’s recent runs of Typing of the Dead. With the Dreamcast now out and about again, that means we have to find my copy of Samba de Amigo and the awesome 3rd-party maracas. I’m absolutely terrible at that game, but it rocks all the same.

Steel Battalion controllerBut it doesn’t end there. Sitting, quietly gathering dust at a friend’s house are my pieces to Steel Battalion, probably one of the most ridiculous things I own. That said, it’s also pretty fun. Piloting huge mechs with a controller that has dozens of buttons, including an escape button encased in a protective box that prevents you from accidentally ejecting, is a sensation that has to be experienced to be believed. The worst part of it now, though, is that Steel Battalion (nor its online pseudo-sequel, Line of Contact) isn’t compatible with the 360. And it probably never will be.

Taiko Drum MasterFortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom for me. Our pair of Guitar Hero axes still see plenty of action, especially when friends are over. And I need to take a few minutes to acclimate myself with Marisa’s Taiko Drum Master. I can’t really play drums, but that’s the fun of it all, innit? 

These are definitely not the only ridiculous controllers out there, though. The NES had the regular lightgun (pretty standard, actually), the Powerglove (immortalized and emblazoned in my mindscape thanks to The Wizard) and R.O.B. (I’ve always wanted one, though other than due to its robotness, I can’t say why).

The Holy Trinity of classic kitschy controllers? Maybe!
ROB for NES Power Glove for NESSNES Super Scope 6

Revolution XAnd lest I forget two seminal arcade controllers. Sure, you can sit in a miniature car, ride a speedboat, wield a samurai sword and more in the arcade, but I’ve always been partial to rat-a-tat lightgun games such as T2 and…Revolution X! Oh, how I hate Aerosmith, but yet, my heart beats for Revolution X. It’s a conundrum of epic proportions.


Panic ParkThe other arcade cabinet to steal my heart came into my life just a few short months ago as Marisa and I vacationed in Orlando. We did Disney, Universal and all that, and one of our fondest memories came from a game called Panic Park located at the arcade inside the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland area. It’s basically a collection of mini-games. The rub comes in the game’s control system, a pair of buttonless swing levers that just encourages madness, wild gesticulations and tomfoolery. You swing the lever, bashing it against the other player, laughing and cursing and trying to get them to fail at picking up chickens, avoiding aliens or whatever silly task is at hand. Trust me, it’s awesome. 

Oh, and while this doesn’t touch on gimmicky controllers, some guy named Sock Monkey has put together a killer video game controller family tree. complete with info on each controller. Boss!