Note: this is a Cake-ified version of a blog entry I posted today.
The 1990s were a wild time for the video game industry. Advances in technology had finally brought true 3D graphics to video gaming, and although this innovation was initially confined to the arcades, the march of technology brought it within reach for home gaming consoles as the decade approached its halfway point.
The leap into the third dimension meant that the simple joypads of yesteryear weren’t nearly as capable as they once were, opening up a time of experimentation and iteration that’s still felt today.
Of the initial set of 3D consoles, it was the Nintendo 64 that came with the most alien-looking controller. More than two decades on, it is still one of the most divisive designs in video game history. Proponents lauded its forward-thinking adoption of analog controls, while detractors criticized its ungainly three-pronged design. Was the N64 controller an insightful glimpse of the future or an evolutionary dead end?
Let’s take a look back at the controller that tried to change the world — it’s origins, competitors, and descendants — to see if we can understand its place in gaming history.