Or bonkers controls! Why not?
Over the past 20 years or so, game control configurations have mostly converged into an accepted norm. Shooters are controlled with the twin sticks and shoulder buttons, racing games use the triggers for accelerate and brake, and you press X to Jason. Simple.
But things weren't always so universal. The 1990s, in particular, represented the Wild West for control schemes. Playing some vintage games now is almost impossible because they just don't make sense. Maybe they did at the time. Maybe. But let's examine the madness with today's thumbs.
If you want to aim your gun properly in GoldenEye, you have to stop and hold the aim button, then move the reticule around with the analog stick. I suppose you don't see James Bond making ultra-precise shots while running around, but as a game it's quite the problem brought on, of course, by the lack of a second stick.
Rare being Rare, there is actually a solution for that. By plugging in a second controller, you can play the game with two analog sticks, making it more or less like a modern-day shooter. Of course you can't do that in four-player, but it's still a massively welcome addition for the story mode.
Street Fighter (arcade deluxe cabinet)
This is actually rather wonderful. The deluxe arcade cabinet of the very first Street Fighter features two pressure-sensitive pads. If you tap the punch pad lightly, you get a light punch. A bit harder and you get a medium punch. Give it a full whack and you get a heavy punch. Same for kicks.
It was expensive to produce, difficult to use and therefore little surprise that a second cabinet was produced that replaced the pads with six attack buttons. You know, the six attack buttons we've been using for Street Fighter ever since.
Tomb Raider (Saturn/PSone)
Let me get this straight: I like the control scheme of the first Tomb Raider. It's precise, solid, dependable, and versatile enough to let you do what you want to do. But it's also bonkers. Up moves Lara forwards, yes. But only in relation to where she's facing, like a tank. Left and right rotate her, but you can take a side-step with X or Z. Y activated free-look, A jumps, B fires your gun, but only if you've got it out with C, otherwise it's a general 'action' button. You can roll to face the other way with R, and walk by holding L, which means you can't fall off a ledge.
To perform a swan dive, you need to hold L while you jump forwards. Hold B and press forward to vault over anything up to waist-high. Grab ledges with B. To perform the longest jump, hold L and up to walk up to a ledge. Release and tap down to take a hop back. Now hold Up to run, hold A when you're moving and then get ready to press B to grab the ledge on the other side BUT NOT TOO SOON or you'll fall short. Are you getting all this? What do you mean, you want to play something else?
The 11th commandment should have been 'Thou shalt not assign nose up/down to the d-pad in G-Police'. It just doesn't make sense in the traditional flight sim way because actually moving higher and lower is mapped to the left shoulder buttons. Put it this way: I don't think real future police are likely to spend significant time looking at the floor when they're engaging hostile craft in the city's airspace.
Playing G-Police today is mind-bending. It's almost like someone's rewired your nerves so that you control your legs with your arms and vice versa. Imagine having to pilot a futuristic police helicopter if your arms and legs were wired the other way round and you had shoes on your hands. That's G-Police.
System Shock (PC)
System Shock has mouse support, which is rare for a first-person game of its age. Does it let you use it for free look? Of course it doesn't! It lets you use it for the menus instead, which includes on-screen arrows to move. But you can use the keyboard, stopping to use the mouse for menus.
Let's say for argument's sake that this makes for a more methodical game. Sure. It's still akin to giving a caveman a cigarette lighter and watching him gleefully swig the alcohol inside. It doesn't even use WASD for movement, instead opting for SZXC, forcing you to sit a little to the right, or angle your keyboard to feel at home. You do use A and D to 'yaw' while running, while Q and E lean left and right, which can be cancelled by pressing W. Totally intuitive, I'm sure you won't agree.
There's nothing wrong with OutTrigger as a game. It's like an arcade version of a first-person shooter, which is a cool idea. Someone else should have a go at that. But the controls? Sweet Jeebus, the controls are dreadful. It gives you several different options for control configurations, and only one of them kind-of works. It's the lack of a second stick that kills it.
Interestingly, there is one control option that almost nails it it's just presented without any hints as to how to use it. If you select F-1, it seems absolutely bonkers until you turn the Dreamcast controller upside down, at which point you get a right stick aiming system. That's pretty damn clever.
Jet Force Gemini (N64/XBO)
As if proof were needed that Jet Force Gemini's controls make no sense at all, Rare Replay was patched specifically to fix them. Rare described the update with the words: 'brings modern controls to Jet Force Gemini'. No kidding. Admittedly, an Xbox one controller is not the same as an N64 pad, but mapping jump to the right analog stick is clearly madness, no matter how close it is to being authentic.
The original controls use A for jumping and B to crouch, then let you strafe and quick-select weapons with the four C buttons. Logically, that does map onto an Xbox One pad by using the right stick as two buttons, but the result is a shambling monster of an interface. Don't succumb to its crazed suggestions. It'll have you drinking 'special' lemonade from a plastic cup before you know it.
Olympic Soccer (Saturn/PSone)
This football game on PS1 and Saturn is a mess in most senses. The painted lines hover a few centimeters above the surface of the pitch, the frame-rate is dreadful, and commentator Alan Green likes to shout 'WHACK' when you kick the ball hard, which is most of the time. But control-wise, it is actually very clever. Bonkers, but clever.
When a lofted ball comes to you, you can hold Y/Triangle to chest the ball down. I can't think of another football game that does this. From there, you can perform a small selection of special moves, like an overhead kick. Through the haze of dreadful 32-bit visuals and faceless players, there is actually a deep and rewarding experience lurking in your controller. Most people never found it, possibly because you definitely need to read the instructions, but also because it's so ugly it's unusual for anyone to play it past the first 60 seconds. WHACK.
The Crew (PS4/XBO/360)
Yes, I know the title says no modern game would ever feature controls like these, and The Crew is a current-gen, online-only game. But it has to be included on the list because, when it launched in its vanilla state, it had one of the most dumbfounding control schemes ever.
It's not a problem if you prefer to play on automatic gears, but anyone like me who uses manual (i.e. drives properly) discovered the gears were mapped only to up and down on the right stick. No other game I can think of uses that as default. Worse still, the very same stick is used to navigate pop-up menus. The result? I couldn't select reverse to drive away from my own garage because 'gear down' was still working an open menu. Facepalm.