Unusual ways of controlling games

Let’s use this topic is discuss some of the unusual ways of controlling games that we’re come across - in the past and present. Console gaming has more or less consolidated around the evolutionary descendants of the original PSX Dual Shock and Saturn 3D controllers (with the Xbox borrowing the extra analog stick from one side, and the PlayStation side borrowing the analog triggers from the other). But along the way there has been may evolutionary dead ends, along with control schemes built around an existing form factor rather than what is most comfortable.

Some memories that I have of unusual control schemes:

  • Playing games with the iPod Classic click wheel. Some games, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, did not work well with the click wheel, while others such as Peggle were a great fit for this limited control system.
  • Micromachines (Megadrive). In order to support eight players without requiring a dongle, the cartridge itself included an extra two ports, plus each controller could be used by two people at a time (one would use the D-Pad to accelerate and steer their car as normal, the other the buttons on the right). It worked well enough for some fun party games.
  • The Kinect. It goes without saying that Kinect was an unusual control scheme. Using just your body to control games resulting in experimental games at best, but that uniqueness at least made it worth trying. And while the Kinect is now being wound down, similar technology has been used in smartphones, such as Face ID in the iPhone X. For gaming, perhaps we’ll see an evolutionary descendant to the Kinect in the future combined with VR.

I think my favorite unusual control scheme is the Wii. Some of my favorite games use the Wii mote for control, such as: Metroid Prime Trilogy and Skyward Sword. Wii sports was also very innovative as well. As anyone could swing the Wii mote and play a game of Golf, baseball, tennis or bowling. It was almost like playing the real sport.

-Metroid Prime Trilogy lets you use the Wii mode to aim, shoot and turn; adding more emersion for the player.

-The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword while not completely 1 to 1, lets you actually sword fight with Link by swinging the Wii remote like a real sword!

Also, PlayStation Move was interesting for a short time when it first game out. I remember playing Sports Champions. The sword fighting was very fun and 1 to 1. And of course now PlayStation VR uses them as its controllers!

And I don’t know if this counts as an unusual control scheme but I found out how to play old 3d games in VR. Any system that uses AVI works. I bought an Omimo VR headset along with an AVI to HDMI converter. The headset has a depth/3d slider called “stereo enhancement”, that lets you increase the depth/3d little by little to give whatever amount of depth/3d you want until it actually becomes VR! Initially, your eye is looking at two images so the stereo enhancement setting allows you to give depth/3d to the image you’re seeing. You can also zoom in the screen from 40%, 50% or 80% to make the game fill as much of your field of vision as you want.

Some games I’ve played in VR that look really good:

Ocarina of Time/Majora’s Mask (Gamecube)
Skies of Arcadia (Gamecube)
Beyond Good and Evil (Xbox 360)
Skyward Sword (Wii)
Wind Waker HD (WiiU)
Ape Escape 3 (PS2)
Banjo Kazooie (Xbox 360)
Metroid Prime Trilogy (Wii)
Deus Ex Human Revolution (Xbox 360)

I’m currently playing Breath of the WIld on Wii U in VR!! And it’s awesome!

I remember the good old days of loading up an n64 emulator with a friend over and playing smash brothers with two controllers mapped to the same keyboard. Seems kind of ridiculous nowadays, especially considering we tried playing Duke Nukem 64 and Goldeneye as well.

Splatoon 2 has an option of playing that I’m not sure a lot of people use, but really changed the way I see shooter games being played with a controller. If you hold both joycons separately, you can use the right joycon to move the camera using the gyroscope AND have the full range of motion of your right arm. Compared to the paltry range of motion your thumb moves an analog stick on a controller, this is the next best thing to mouselook and it really makes me lament that not every console game can make use of this control scheme. It’s not entirely unlike how Metroid Prime controls on the Wii and I absolutely love it.

I don’t know if this counts, but I have some really unusual control schemes I use personally. I have a hard time using WASD, and because of Doom and Quake control mappings, I have to have rightclick bound to forward movement. I can see it being strange splitting movement between two hands but I guess I’m stuck with that habit now. Another strange scheme I personally have is having vertical look inverted when controlling an ingame camera with the left stick (i.e. Panzer Dragoon, FPS games on Dreamcast) but being unable to use it that way if I’m controlling the camera with the right stick.