Friday, December 23, 2011

The GameCube Controller

Dedicated GameCube entry continuing from the Console Controllers of the Big Three post.

See Also:
The Playstation Controller 
The Xbox Controller
The pre-GameCube Nintendo Controllers

NB: Henceforth I will use the following abbreviations: (why is abbr. itself such a long word?)
  • crtllr - controller
  • PS - PlayStation
  • GCN - GameCube
  • ergo. - ergonomics
Unlike the previous two posts, this one will probably be much shorter I'm sorry I promise. (⌐⌐_) In contrast to the extended families the PS and Xbox ctrllrs enjoy, the GCN ctrllr is an only child. It has no predecessors, no descendants. No wait! Guess what I haaaave~ ♫

The Wavebird Wireless ctrllr.
Yeah, baby! Hot stuff right here. You know they don't even make these anymore? Wireless ctrllrs will be the wave of the future, I tell you. My dream is that all consoles will one day use wireless as the standard.  <( ̄◡ ̄)>
What's that? Wireless is already here? Xbox 360? Sixaxis? DualShock 3? Wii-mote? Move? Kinect?

Well, my work here is done. Farewell, comrades.
Oh, wait. Ergonomics. Right. *ahem*

So yeah, only two specimens for examination this round, people. And they're basically identical so... yeah. Nevertheless, we shall carry on.

The bare obviousness of it might actually cause a lot of people to miss this but look at it. It's different in the very fact that it's so... normal. No point prevaricating around it; the GCN ctrllr looks, dare I say, unremarkable alongside its peers. And not in a bad way.
To refresh your memory.
See there's the secondary analog stick on the right, the primary on the left above a D-pad (get with the times Sony, come on), a four button array on the far right and some front end buttons. Actually those L and R buttons are a bit unusual. I'll get to that.

But yeah, first impressions: this is a pretty straight-forward piece of hardware right here. In fact, I'd like to note that this one doesn't have any expansion capabilities whatsoever. The N64 had that Rumble Pak slot, remember? And the Wii-mote can connect to the Nunchuk. But the GCN ctrllr is more reminiscent of a PS controller: What you get is all you need. Plug and Play. (Original Xbox ctrllrs also had expansion slots.)

Oh, the small oddity of the L/R buttons? When depressed completely they click, effectively giving this ctrllr an additional two 'buttons'. Conversely, unlike the PS and Xbox ctrllrs, the analog sticks on the GCN ctrllr cannot be pressed at all. It lacks any "L3/R3 function". (That's what I like to call it, giving homage to the designation given by the PS ctrllrs that used it first.) In my opinion, the GCN did not benefit from this exchange. Whereas the user can utilize R3 functions freely without also needing to apply superfluous input to the joysticks, the GCN's L/R buttons must (obviously) be depressed before reaching the 'click' point. Thankfully, this never inconvenienced the gamer due to the game control designers' accommodations. In my experience they always gave the L/R clicks complementary functions to the L/R buttons themselves. This is smart but I feel providing R3 functions in the first place would have been better.

Now then, as you might expect, we will take a look at the contours of the grip.
The GCN crtllr.
Well, look at it. That's a smooth curve and a gentle angle right there. It fits right in your hands. I normally use a three finger grip with this ctrllr.

Though a two finger grip also feels perfectly comfortable.
The two finger grip, though seldom needed, comes in handy for actions like using the bow in Wind Waker (assuming you assigned the bow to the 'Z' button like me).

The Wavebird is the same as the regular ctrllr with regards to button placement/spacing, etc. but its grip is slightly taller.

It's easier to tell haptically than visually.
This doesn't affect comfort as the difference is slight. Otherwise, the two are ergonomically identical.

Nothing harsh to say about this controller, though nothing especially praiseworthy either. If not for the L/R button/click issue the GCN ctrllr would draw almost even with the Xbox 360 but it falls just a tick short on my ranking due to the cord. The Wavebird does not save it; it has wireless capability but it sacrificed its rumble feature to do so. ╮(╯_╰)╭