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29 Controls of Christmas
Atari Jaguar Gamepad
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 09, 2008   |   Episode 13 (Show Archive)  

   

It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're taking a look at 29 of the best known video game controls of all time, from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the Nintendo Wii remote. We're going to review each and every one of them, and then give you a short haiku. Join us as we celebrate this joyous season with the 29 Controls of Christmas!



With 17 buttons, it's hard to top the Atari Jaguar's control for sheer complexity!
Brief Synopsis: I have a confession to make: I like my Atari Jaguar. The truth is, I've always liked my Atari Jaguar. Maybe it was just the right time and place, but I've never had this big aversion to Atari's final home console that everybody else has. When I first got my Jaguar (on day one) I was captivated by Cybermorph, the first game that truly allowed me to navigate through a functional 3D world. I was blown away by Alien vs. Predator's ambitious story mode, even if it was a bit clunky and sometimes hard to control. And don't even get me started on Tempest 2000, still one of the best games of all time. But there's one thing I didn't care for, and that's the Jaguar control. From the moment I picked up the large, bulky gamepad I realized that this felt more like a step back in time. It didn't feel like I was stepping back to the 16-bit era, or even the 8-bit era ... it felt like I was going all the way back to the Colecovision. This was the first control to have a numerical keypad since Coleco's ambitious console in the early 1980s. The idea was the put plastic cards over the keypad that would allow you to quickly change weapons and change the options on the fly. I get what Atari was thinking, but when it came right down to it the control just looked too big and clumsy, never attracting a big audience. Then again, maybe that didn't have anything to do with the control. Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy probably played a big part in this system's downfall.

The Style: Even if you can get your head around the bizarre numerical pad, the Atari Jaguar control was still one of the ugliest gamepads ever devised. The D-pad was sluggish and when you pressed the buttons it never felt like they registered. What's more, the control was so large that it was uncomfortable to hold in your hands. I'm sure there's somebody out there that can write a convincing argument for why the numerical pad was a good idea, but for most people it just made the gamepad too complex and daunting. Couple

Maybe if Atari spent less time developing Jaguar clothing nobody (and I mean nobody) was going to buy, they could have come up with a better gamepad!
all these problems with an ugly design and it's easy to see why many consider this to be one of the worst video game controls of all time. As much as I love my Jaguar, even I have a hard time arguing for this control.

What the 15 Year Old Me Would Say: Hey, this thing has a number pad. Does that mean I can use it to make outgoing calls? Dude, that would be sweet, especially since I just got my phone taken away. Oh man, it's a long story, not even worth talking about. Seriously, you don't even want to hear it. Okay, fine, I was caught painting my parents car. Oh, it's not as bad as it sounds. It's their spare care, they never even drive it. It was just sitting there in the garage next to the paint we used to redesign the living room. My girlfriend and I got really drunk and then spend all afternoon painting it, it was pretty awesome. Actually, on second thought, I probably got in trouble for getting drunk ... I don't think they cared much about that car.

What I Would Say Now: Sorry mom and dad, I really should have asked before getting into your liquor cabinet and then painting the car light blue. What can I say, my teenage girlfriend was a bad influence on me. You should have seen all the other crazy/stupid things I did just to get some action, if you knew the full story you would probably take away my phone privileges for the rest of my life! But I digress, because we have this very special Jaguar control to talk about. The biggest problem I had was Atari's go-it-alone strategy. Actually, I'm not sure that was a strategy so much as just them having problems convincing third parties to help out. It would have been really cool if Nyko or somebody could have come up with a more comfortable game pad, but alas we are stuck with this bulky Jaguar control. Atari was about as good at creating controls as it was doing simple math.

The Atari Jaguar Gamepad Haiku:
Hey, a number pad!
Does it come with a phone book?
Nope, just more buttons!
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