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That Nintendo Controller

So, Nintendo finally release details of their much-hyped revolutionary game controller that will accompany the Revolution console, the successor to the Gamecube. Some people hate it; naturally, I love it.

If you haven’t yet seen images of the controller, then you’re just not making the effort. There are some good shots here at Edge Online, though, so go and look at those and then come back.

My first thought was ‘Jesus. Seriously?’ and I felt terribly disloyal for that, but come on — it’s a TV remote control. It looks like something that could control the temperature of the bath water in an old people’s home, or adjust their bed to help sit them up straight. But, it grew on me quickly as I read more about it, and I remembered that this was my gut reaction to the Nintendo DS as well — what I had originally thought ugly and gimmicky has become one of my favourite consoles.

Essentially what you have is a TV remote control — this is entirely intentional, with the point being that it’s a familiar object and people who may have balked at the traditional controller with its multitude of triggers and buttons will be more comfortable picking up something that looks like this. In place of an analogue thumbstick, the controller itself is the analogue thumbstick — it detects where it is in relation to the TV screen (using Science) and detects movement, direction etc. You won’t be pressing a button to fight an on-screen enemy; you’ll be swinging the sword yourself.

That said, you can see from the photos that there is an analogue thumbstick, which plugs into the base of the controller and is held in the spare hand. This, coupled with the fact that the console will accept Gamecube controllers, and that the controller also has the ability to slot into a ‘shell’ and be turned into a regular controller suggests that the Revolution won’t just be about waving your arms around, Minority Report style.

Really, though my initial impression wasn’t positive, this controller can be all things to all people. For people who want to try something different, that’s possible and is the main objective. For people who want to download old NES games and play those, that’s fine as well (just rotate the controller 90° and you have a perfectly good NES pad). For people who want to play mainstream games, no problem — use a Gamecube controller, or use the analogue extension.

The new controller also happens to make the Xbox 360 pad and the ‘boomerang’ DualShock3 look outdated before they’ve even gone on sale.

I think it’s going to be good.