Power in your hands
I bet you think you know everything there is to know about your controller. Youve used it countless times in shooters, brawlers, adventures, and beat-em-ups; nothing could surprise you now, right? Wrong. What if I told you that there are ways your controller can work that youve never seen before? Youd probably think I was crazy, but its absolutely true.
The following list is full of prime examples of bizarre uses for the controller youve become so accustomed to. New ways to fight, new ways to travel a digital world, and new ways to immerse yourself into the game youre playing all await you here. I bet that reading this list will add a few games to your must-play list, as youll want to see these crazy controls for yourself.
Infamous: Second Son
Through 90% of the newest InFamous game, controlling Delsin Rowe is just like controlling Cole MacGrath. I shoot with R1, I aim with L1 before shooting with R1 if I so choose, and the other face buttons unleash all different kinds of special attacks. That last 10%, however, throws a new mechanic at you that paints the DualShock 4 in a whole new color. Were talking about tagging.
As it turns out, Delsins also a superhero when it comes to a spray paint can, and by extension so are you. Not content to just let you watch Delsin at work, Sucker Punch gives you a way to feel like you are the artist. Sure, it's gimmicky, but turning the DualShock 4 on its side, shaking it to hear that satisfying rattle, then aiming the controller at the cardboard on-screen to make your artwork come alive felt real. Sega, take note! If you're planning a new Jet Set game, this is how you do it.
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Technically, portable systems aren't controllers, but one particular moment in Phantom Hourglass is so clever that it's totally worth including. Right at the beginning, the game gave Link a map and told him to put a mark on it so that he knowns where he is heading. However, when I got to that point, I couldn't get the mark to appear on my map.
Tapping the bottom screen did nothing, tapping the top screen did nothing (because of course it doesnt). No buttons helped, nothing. If youre like me, you shut the system out of frustration and when you went back to try again, the seal miraculously appeared on your map. Thats when it dawns on you: You have to imprint the map by shutting the device! Zelda games love to throw curveballs in their puzzle design, but that was one most didnt even see coming.
Who knew paintbrushes could be so deadly? The Celestial Brush wielded by the Sun Goddess Amaterasu in her quest to defeat Orochi has some potent powers. By pressing R1 on the DualShock 2 (or pointing at the screen with the Wii Remote/PS Move), the world turns into a canvas where the brush can bring life back to wilted plants, create gusts of wind, or repair fallen bridges. The world is one big easel to Amaterasu, it seems.
Do you need daytime to stick around for a little while longer? Summon the brush, draw a circle in the sky, and bask in the sunlight. Battling a tough enemy? Draw a line through the foe with your brush and take him out. Other games have allowed us to manipulate the world, but something about drawing on the earth itself to get where we need to be is wholly satisfying.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Nintendo implemented motion controls in Twilight Princess, but I feel their next Wii Zelda game was the true realization of its ambitions. Motion controls in Skyward Sword are much sharper than Twilight Princess, and when you combine that with a world that responds more naturally to your actions, it feels like youre actually Link in the midst of his biggest adventure.
The Wii MotionPlus lets players feel like theyre truly wielding the Master Sword, slashing at enemies in full 1:1 motions. Perhaps the coolest part of Skyward Sword's control scheme is when you raise your hand straight into the air, let Link charge up the attack, before unleashing the Skyward Strike on whoever stood before me. I dont normally put full effort into motion controls, but watching Link power up his sword when I raised my hand made me want to slash as hard as I possibly could every single time. Those safety warnings that flash before every Wii game never rang more true than they did in Skyward Sword.
Metal Gear Solid (Psycho Mantis)
How about that Psycho Mantis, huh? Everyone who has followed the saga of Solid Snake knows what I'm about to talk about--it's one of the most legendary moments in fourth-wall breaking in gaming. Mantis knew more about us and our respective gaming habits than he had any right to know...but how? (Yeah, rhetorical question - he read our memory cards save files) But he didnt stop there- he even messed with us by telling us what we liked to play based on our memory card save files. He then toyed with us even further by making the controller rumble in our hands, then seemingly short circuiting our controller and throwing everything out of wack.
How could we ever counter this seemingly psychic assault? By taking the controller out of Port 1 and moving it to Port 2. Seriously, disconnecting and reconnecting the controller was the only way to throw Psycho Mantis off of his game and get past him. A control mechanic like this might surprise me even today, but in the PS1 days it was unheard of. Do you want to know why people love Hideo Kojima so much? Moments like the Psycho Mantis battle are a good place to start looking.
WarioWare: Smooth Moves
Perhaps the weirdest use for a controller in gaming history has to go to WarioWare: Smooth Moves on the Wii. The franchises trademark microgames once again make an appearance, but each game requires the player to perform certain poses with the Wii Remote. Some are pretty standard--like The Umbrella pose that ask the player to hold the Wii Remote upright--but others are just daffy.
Take The Elephant, which makes the player hold the Wii Remote longways at the tip of the nose. Perhaps The Big Cheese, where the remote needs to be held at the side with bent elbows extending the chest, is a better example. There are 19 poses in all, ranging from normal to super duper weird, but all of them make for good fun...even if you look ridiculous while youre in the pose.
Dead Space: Extraction
Dead Space Extraction doesnt do anything special with the motion controls it offers for most of the game. It had me pointing and shooting at Necromorphs just like I used to point and shoot at the ghouls of House of the Dead in the arcade. However, Extraction put players in a unique situation at the end of the game, and thats where the insanity begins. (Spoiler warning, in case you ever wanted to go back and play Extraction.)
The protagonist Nathan McNeil gets his arm impaled on a spike just feet away from escaping. And how do you get Nate out of his predicament? By using the Wii Remote (or PS Move, depending on the system) to CHOP OFF HIS OWN DAMN ARM. The game even slows down with every hit, just in case you werent grasping the severity of CHOPPING OFF HIS DAMN ARM.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons took the standard controller and chopped it in half. One side controls one brother, and the other half controls the other brother. It sounds insane, but splitting the controller in two made for some of the coolest puzzle solutions Ive ever seen. (Spoiler warning for those who have yet to play Brothers.)
At first I thought it was just novel and interesting, but by the end of the game the controls had gone from just clever to legitimately meaningful. Right before the finale one of the brothers dies, but instead of reverting to a normal control scheme for the endgame, the deceased brothers half of the controller is rendered useless. Just as the on-screen duo is cut in half, you lose one half of your ability to control the game. That handicap puts Brothers into a class of its own, as I cant think of any other game that does something like that.
Keeping things fresh
In a world filled with genre-standard schemes, these games shake things up with their unique approaches to control. Whether youre controlling two brothers with one controller or restoring the world by painting on it with a divine brush, you wont find control mechanics like these anywhere else.
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