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29 Controls of Christmas
Sega Dreamcast Pad
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 14, 2008   |   Episode 18 (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!



On paper the VMU seemed like a really good idea, unfortunately it became more of a distraction than anything!
Brief Synopsis: Have you ever wondered what would happen if you mated the Sega Saturn analog control with that lousy Nintendo 64 pad? The offspring would be something like this Sega Dreamcast control, a big, fat pad that is made to be as ugly as possible. The Dreamcast control is horrifyingly ugly, the type of ugly you can't fix with plastic surgery. Large chunks of the real estate are used for what would prove to be unnecessary accessories, while the D-pad and analog stick remain too close together. But the real problem with this control is the actual cord, which mysteriously juts out of the bottom. Remember when I made so much fun of the Master System control for having the cord come out of the right side? Well this Dreamcast control isn't going to get a pass from me. Thankfully Sega gave us a way to loop the cord behind the control so that it's not in the way, but doing that means that you lose a few inches of an already short cord. While I love my Dreamcast to death, this is one control I have never been able to warm up to.

The Style: The real problem with this control's style is that it apes too much from the Saturn analog control and the Nintendo 64 pad. You still have the big, fat sumo wrestler look. You still have the D-pad and analog stick too close together. What is added here are two expansion bays, similar to what Nintendo tried. The first expansion bay is specifically set up for the VMU, the memory card that also acted like a portable game system. In theory this was a good idea, it offered a screen only you could see and could double as a handheld gaming system that played incredibly simple games. But as the games started to hit store shelves it was clear that the screen was unnecessary, not to mention

You can find a lot of mildly offensive content on the internet!
distracting. The biggest style faux pas was the cord, which is often unruly. You mix together the unnecessary junk with the bad control decisions and you have a control that should look space age, but instead is a real eyesore.

What the 21 Year Old Me Would Say: Hey, this thing has a screen. At least, I think that's a screen. Dude, I don't know, I'm pretty drunk right now. I'm not sure I like this cord coming out of the bottom; I can see how that could get in the way. This screen is cool, though. Will I be using it in actual games? Like can I use it to choose plays in Madden? Madden, that's a funny word. Madden. Madden. Madden. I can't stop saying it. Madden. Dude, you're getting a Madden. Oh my god, I have to tell people about this. Where's my phone? Oh man, I need another drink ...

What I Would Say Now: What my drunk 21 year old self was trying to say was that this control makes a good first impression, but once you discover how useless some of the "innovations" are you quickly lose interest. It's easy to see how Sega got from the Saturn analog control to this Dreamcast control; you could see the writing on the wall before the Dreamcast was even announced. My problem is that Sega decided not to fix the problems people had with that fat Saturn pad. The control is still too big, with the D-pad and analog stick too close together. What's more, they actually made the whole thing worse by changing the cord location. I do like the idea of having a screen on your control, but there just weren't enough reasons to look down and pay attention to it.

The Sega Dreamcast Pad Haiku:
A white Saturn pad?
Is that a television?
I still loathe this cord!
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