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Top 10 Great Video Games With Bad Controls

VO: Matt Campbell
Script written by Kurt Hvorup As excellent as many games are, their control schemes can sometimes be a chore. Join as we countdown our picks for the Top 10 Great Video Games with Bad Controls. For this list we're looking at the finest of games that lack in one key area: controls. Be it slow and archaic movement, uncomfortable key configurations or troublesome cameras, these otherwise fantastic games suffer from some degree of questionable design.

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Script written by Kurt Hvorup

Top 10 Great Video Games with Bad Controls

As excellent as many games are, their control schemes can sometimes be a chore. Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 Great Video Games with Bad Controls.

For this list we're looking at the finest of games that lack in one key area: controls. Be it slow and archaic movement, uncomfortable key configurations or troublesome cameras, these otherwise fantastic games suffer from some degree of questionable design.

#10: “Alone in the Dark” (1992)

It's classic survival horror... with some not-so-enduring elements. “Alone in the Dark”, released in 1992 by Infogrames, was a pivotal entry into the budding horror game genre. Its blend of then-innovative 3D graphics with iconography drawn from the works of H. P. Lovecraft made for a chilling experience. Yet it was not without some clunky design; both of the playable characters, Edward Carnby and Emily Hartwood, move in a sluggish manner and are difficult to manoeuvre. It's an aspect of the game that has not improved with age.

#9: “Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops” (2007)

Despite being the fourth “Metal Gear” title designed for the PlayStation Portable, this game's controls seem unsuited to the platform. In “Portable Ops”, players take on the role of elite soldier Naked Snake in a mission to deal with the renegade FOX unit. While the game largely succeeds at delivering on tense stealth action, the design of its camera controls – intended to compensate for the PSP's lack of a second control stick – leave something to be desired. For instance, hitting the left shoulder button centres the camera behind Snake, which doesn’t help in a game where you need to pay attention to your surroundings.

#8: “Tomb Raider” (1996)

Sometimes, a game's flaws are tied to innovation. Such is the case with “Tomb Raider”, one of the first major 3D action-platforming games. With its focus on adventurous heroine Lara Croft, its balance of gunplay and exploration, and a variety of scenic locales, the game certainly made its mark. However, this early PlayStation title was also subject to a difficult-to-manage camera and rigid movement controls. Not exactly the best setup for a game about precise jumps and careful movement.

#7: “Jet Force Gemini” (1999)

Complexity can be magnificent, but not if the player is left out of the loop. Rare were tasked with producing the Nintendo 64 third-person shooter “Jet Force Gemini”, about an elite squad battling an insect army. While widely praised for its high production quality and good level pacing, the game's control scheme was less-than-beloved. Weapons fired in a continuous and awkward stream, which could be rectified by using a semi-first-person mode... except the controls for moving then suddenly switched to the N64's C buttons. It's at once abrupt and uncomfortable, but thankfully with the recently released Rare Replay bundle, the game has been patched to allow for dual analog aiming.

#6: “Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition” (2012)

There's a fair challenge, and then there's sincere issues impeding player ability. For “Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition”, a PC port of a 2011 console RPG, the latter is the case. The core game's brooding atmosphere, piecemeal narrative, and consequence-laden role-playing mechanics were embraced by many – but a combination of bizarre default controls, a lack of on-screen prompts for mouse and keyboard commands, and an inaccurate camera weigh down the experience. Given the game's fixation on precision and patience, all these issues seem counter-intuitive.

#5: “Grand Theft Auto IV” (2008)

Driving should be enjoyable, not a chore. “Grand Theft Auto IV” puts players in the role of Nico Bellic, an immigrant who enters the criminal underworld of Liberty City seeking vengeance. As a whole, the game's sobering yet endearing take on crime life mixed with the scope of game mechanics makes for a thoroughly engaging experience... except when behind the wheel. When driven by players, cars are slippery to handle and far too easy to crash, owning perhaps to a looseness of controls. Whatever the reason for this design choice, we're not quite fans.

#4: “Mass Effect” (2007)

Speaking of piloting less-than-intuitive vehicles, there's one key weak point in BioWare's acclaimed 2007 action role-playing game. Over the course of “Mass Effect”, players are given occasional command of the M35 Mako infantry fighting vehicle, a large tank-like transport to drive through environments. At its best the Mako comes with a noticeable learning curve – yet for many players, it lacks smooth manoeuvring and could be easily flipped or stuck in locations. If you want a good example out of the Mako, try using the game’s cover mechanic after played the 2 sequels and you’ll see how flimsy it is.

#3: “Scribblenauts” (2009)

This sleeper hit DS game fulfilled great promises, though at a cost. “Scribblenauts”, the third Nintendo DS game by developer 5th Cell, offers players the opportunity to summon any object out of a database of thousands. Coupled with the game's non-linear puzzles, it proved to be a popular mechanic. There was just one issue: everything is controlled via touchscreen, from character movement to typing in object names. While not a problem in theory, the occasional imprecision of the touchscreen interface and less than ideal pathfinding can interfere with a player's efforts and muddle their commands.

#2: “Resident Evil” (1996)

Terrifying though it may be, The 1996 survival horror gem had some issues. “Resident Evil” combining pre-rendered backgrounds with 3D characters running around, along with some B-movie style horror elements and carefully controlled player limitations. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of free movement; characters turn slowly, can only move in a limited number of directions and are restricted by fixed camera angles. This tank-like control scheme, while arguably effective at building tension, is also strenuous and unnecessary to the player's experience. The remake has the option to remove have traditional 3D movement, but with the shifting camera angles it’s easy to get disorientated.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“The World Ends With You” (2008)

“The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” (2006)

#1: “Kid Icarus: Uprising” (2012)

While Pits return to the gaming world was loved for its great use of 3D effects, tongue-in-cheek humour and energetic action, the controls have a massive list of problems. Movement and shooting is controlled with the Nintendo 3DS's Circle Pad and L button, while aiming is controlled with the touchscreen simultaneously. The discomfort caused by holding the system with one hand makes it difficult to enjoy this otherwise remarkable game. A stand was bundle with the game to reduce hand cramps, except using that has the player more than likely to sit in a hunched position causing back achs. And that’s just the default controls, the alternative options are even worse, but my hands cramp just thinking about them.

Do you agree with our list? What great games controls really hurt your experience? For more impressive Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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