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They Did What?: 

Please, no more video game controllers made for just one game

Gaming is an expensive hobby, but at least it doesn’t take up too much space. That is unless developers decide that their game is so important that it demands its very own dedicated video game controller to clog up your precious living space. But no developer would be that selfish, right?


Weird video game controller 1: Tony Hawk’s Ride

weird video game controller

“Just ignore him, then maybe he’ll take his plastic skateboard home.”

For a time, Activision was the King of plastic tat, and the scourge of game shops running out of space for said tat. It was all the less welcome when the game was absolutely terrible – as is the case with Tony Hawk’s Ride – with a metacritic score of 44%.

First things first, you’ll notice the skateboard has no wheels. That makes sense – the last thing you want to do is roll into your TV, breaking everything (though given the reviews, that might be the lesser of two evils) – but it doesn’t make for a very convincing skateboard. As reviewer Ellie Gibson said in a bad games retrospective: “I remember the terrible plastic peripheral that came with this game sitting around my house for literally years. I think I ended up shoving it in the bottom of a charity shop bag. Goodness knows what the lovely old dears down Sydenham Scope thought they were supposed to do with a wheel-less skateboard.”

It sold over 114,000 copies in its first month in the US. If you lined all of those useless boards up, they’d stretch over 50 miles. Using them as a yard stick is a marginally better use than their intended original purpose.

Weird video game controller 2: Donkey Konga Bongos

weird video game controller

These didn’t drum up much support for the Nintendo GameCube. GEDDIT? (Image: Grillo, Wikipedia licensed under CC)

Your console is struggling to keep up with its competitors. What’s your strategy? How about releasing a controller that looks like a set of hipster bongo drums?

That’s exactly what Nintendo did with the GameCube. The drums were designed for use with Donkey Konga and its two sequels (one of which that was never released outside of Japan.) Donkey Konga was a really entertaining party game, but multiplayer would require between two and four sets of this ridiculous controller, which consisted of two button pads and a clap sensor.

Nintendo later released a platform game that was designed for the pad, Donkey Konga Jungle Beat. The game was later remade for Wii with traditional controls, suggesting that maybe the bongos weren’t that necessary after all…

Weird video game controller 3: Samba de Amigo maracas

weird video game controller

Everything you need to get the party started. A very specific type of party. (Image: Highgamers)

It can be argued that there aren’t enough maracas-based games around. It can also be argued that there’s too many – Samba de Amigo is the only one we’re aware of, and although it’s actually extremely fun, we’re not quite sure it warrants the gaudy attachment to play the game properly.

In the arcade original, magnetic sensors were used to establish the maracas position – the Dreamcast home version (pictured above) had no such luxury, and as such you’d need to plug a maraca into each side of the sensor bar, where it would triangulate the position of the maraca using ultrasound. A lot of neat technology for an insane idea.

It would later be released on Wii using Wii Remotes instead. And yes, you could add a wholly unnecessary maraca skin to your Wii Remote too, should you wish.

Weird video game controller 4: The Rock Band Keytar

weird video game controller

It actually worked as a real keyboard, unlike the bongos, maracas or skateboard.

You’ll notice there are no plastic guitars in the list – that’s because you could use them in both Rock Band and Guitar Hero (or Dark Souls, for one brave individual). The keytar, on the other hand, was only usable in Rock Band 3, and although a new Rock Band game has been announced, Harmonix has already stated the keytar has no place in the new game. RIP, little buddy.

All is not lost though – unlike other controllers in this list, the keytar does actually work as a midi keyboard for making real music. Technically you could use the maracas above for the same purpose, but oddly nobody’s that keen.

Weird video game controller 5: Buzz Controllers

weird video game controller

The original wired buzzers led to more time spent untangling than playing.

Sure, you can play quiz games with a control pad, but non-gaming relatives don’t know the Playstation pad’s layout off by heart. They did, however, grow up on quiz shows with big red buzzers.

The Buzz controllers are somewhat genius, actually – just a red button and four colored panels for multiple choice. Though, with the wired versions, untangling the mess of plastic was a game in itself. And not a very enjoyable one.

Buzz made several appearances on PlayStation 3, before the series was abandoned. No word yet as to whether they’ll work on PlayStation 4, should the franchise be revised.

Weird video game controller 6: DJ Hero decks

weird video game controller

Being a heroic musician isn’t just for plastic guitar players.

After discovering success with Guitar Hero, Activision fundamentally ignored the concept that correlation does not always equal causation, and stuck the ‘Hero’ name on the end of a bunch of products: DJ Hero, Band Hero and a bunch of other Guitar Hero titles. These all used the existing plastic guitars, except for DJ Hero: a weird but wonderful rhythm action game which involved spinning and remixing mash-ups.

The controller itself is surprisingly well made, looking more stylish than the maracas or bongos (though admittedly, that particular bar is set insultingly low) but there’s nothing else you can use the pad for. When DJ Hero failed to sell brilliantly after two games, it became a big, plastic paperweight – something which its looks were well-suited for.

Weird video game controller 7: Rail Driver controller

weird video game controller

A train cockpit in front of your PC!

There’s a burgeoning market for train sims on PC, but for the truly dedicated, a regular mouse and keyboard approach just doesn’t cut it. That’s when Rail Driver comes in.

Not only does it come with 35 programmable buttons, it includes an internal bass speaker to make the controls realistically vibrate as you drive. Bit harsh including this one on the list, as it supports at least 14 train games at the time of writing. Still, at just under $200, only the truly dedicated need apply.

Weird video game controller 8: Steel Battalion controller

weird video game controller

40 buttons and two unpictured pedals. A control stick that needs its own manual…

Steel Battalion was a mech battling game for the original Xbox, and requires this specialist bit of kit. The kit cost $200, and it was ever sold in limited quantities. It has a whopping 40 buttons, plus some additional pedals.

A sequel was made, also using the unique controller, and released in 2004. A third installment was made in 2012 using the Xbox 360 Kinect motion controller which got awful reviews – maybe those 40 buttons were vital after all.

As it was designed for the original Xbox, its connector only fits in there, leaving Redditors wanting to repurpose the expansive controller for Elite Dangerous disappointed.

Weird video game controller 9: Wii Bowling Ball

weird video game controller

Why? Just why.

Every Wii console in the west shipped with Wii Sports – the baseball, tennis, golf, boxing and bowling mini-games really showed people how to use the controller, even if a few TVs suffered along the way, forcing Nintendo to send out complimentary wrist straps.

The trouble is that professional bowlers would argue that a remote control feels nothing like a ball. Even we could tell you that, and we’re casual bowlers at best. Worry not: Amazon has a solution for you in the form of this monstrosity. Open it up, put your Wii remote inside and you’re good to go for a realistic bowling experience. And a TV that would be feeling anxious, if it was a smart TV.

We’re amused at the idea of having to open it up and put a different Wiimote inside each turn for multiplayer. It’s that or buy three more. Or you could, y’know, just go to a real bowling alley.

Weird video game controller 10: Phantasy Star Online keyboard-pad

weird video game controller

Not enough game controllers allow you to work on a novel, simultaneously. Neither does this, to be fair. But it could.

Phantasy Star Online was one of the few games for the GameCube that required an internet connection – an always on MMORPG that required player communication. And that means a virtual keyboard wouldn’t cut it.

So here’s the ASCII Keyboard controller. Like a Gamecube Wavebird wireless pad that has been stretched out to comical proportions, before having a standard office keyboard crudely stuffed inside.

It’s still available to buy on Amazon, should you wish, with one reviewer stating it “worth every penny”, adding that they’re “looking forward to its use in the future.”

They may be disappointed.

Have we missed any more weird game controllers? Let us know below!

Images via Amazon, unless otherwise stated.

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