May 19, 2024

Innovation & Tech Today

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The Weird Evolution Of Atari Controllers

In case you haven’t heard the news, Atari is back in the console game with the recently announced Ataribox. Can it compete with the likes of gigantic companies like Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft? Almost certainly not. But it will definitely be interesting to watch. One thing that set Atari consoles of the past apart was their controllers, for better or for worse. Let’s take a look at the evolution of Atari’s controllers that I’ll politely call “unique.”

Wikipedia Commons

Atari 2600 – The company started its “numbered” console series pretty simple when it comes to controllers, as the classic 2600 controller only featured a joystick and a button. Which, for the times, was actually pretty good. However, it was intended only for arcade games like Frogger and Space Invaders. Something tells me a Call of Duty session using the Atari 2600 controller would be, well, impossible.

Wikipedia Commons

Atari 5200 – No, that’s not a prop from a 1950s sci-fi movie. That’s the controller of the Atari 5200, which kept the joystick of the previous console but added in buttons. Lots of buttons. In fact, it looks like the lovechild of an Atari 2600 controller and a cordless phone. Let’s move along before I think that one through too much.

Wikipedia Commons

Atari 7800 – Was the 7800 controller 2600 times better than the 5200? Well, not exactly. It’s pretty clear that Atari was attempting to simplify the controller with fewer buttons. However, the 7800’s buttons are placed awkwardly on the sides of the joystick. Which is too bad because the 7800 hosted such awesomely named games as Motor Psycho, Planet Smashers, and Midnight Mutants. How are those not all famous metal bands?

Wikipedia Commons

Atari Lynx – With the Atari Lynx, the company looked to be getting on the right track by designing their first controller without a joystick. However, the handheld had one distinct design problem: it was apparently designed for three-handed people. How else could you explain how far away all the buttons are from each other? Unless you’re Machamp from Pokemon or Goro from Mortal Kombat (hooray for video game references), you might not have the best time playing the Lynx.

Wikipedia Commons

Atari Jaguar – And here we have the crowning achievement of strange controllers. It almost looks as if all of the previous controllers combined into one single entity Megazord-style. With a total of 17 buttons, the Jaguar’s controller was likely one of the reasons that the company has been out of the console business this long. Continuing this trend, the Ataribox controller will most likely contain no less than 30 buttons. Should make for an interesting game of Pong.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Picture of By Anthony Elio

By Anthony Elio

Anthony Elio is the Assistant Editor for Innovation & Tech Today. Outside of writing, he is a drummer, podcast host, sandwich enthusiast, and amateur self-describer.

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