Ranking The Best Nintendo Controllers - MojoPlays

VOICE OVER: Jess Adel WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
Nintendo revolutionizes not only video games, but the controllers we play them with. While there are a lot of duds, for the most part Nintendos controllers are the best and most iconic in gaming history. So join MojoPlays and our host Jess Adel as we rank the best Nintendo controllers of all time. Nintendo 64, NES, SNES, Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo Switch Pro Controller-- which one is in your top spot?!
All the Nintendo Controllers RANKED

Welcome to MojoPlays! Today, we’ll be ranking the best Nintendo controllers of all time.

For this video, we won’t be listing every single Nintendo controller ever made, we’re just going over the best of the best.

#9: Wii U Gamepad

After the wild success of the Wii in 2006, the Wii U was certainly a weak point for Nintendo, but its main controller is definitely one worth mentioning. At first, people didn’t really know what to make of the massive tablet-controller fusion. While not revolutionizing anything with its button layout, being able to walk around your home and play games directly on the controller when the TV was occupied was a pretty sweet feature, and a few games, like Super Mario Maker, took advantage of the hardware and its touchscreen really well. In the end, the GamePad was respectable in it’s own right, but also ultimately paved the way for the Nintendo Switch.

#8: NES Controller

The controller for the Nintendo Entertainment system is easily one of the most recognizable rectangles and one of the most significant controllers in gaming history. In its time, the NES was the best-selling video game console after all. However, despite its minimalist design making games simple to understand and play, it did have some major shortcomings: namely, its iconic rectangular shape. Especially after longer gaming sessions, those sharp corners can really start to dig into your hands and distract from staying in “the zone”. And for that reason, the lesser-known NES “Dogbone” controller might actually be the even better choice between the two.

#7: Wii Remote

Designed with a TV remote in mind, the Wii Remote is one of the strangest controllers yet the most welcoming and appealing to casual consumers and entry-level gamers. What makes the Wii Remote stand out though was its customizability. It could be held like remote control, held on its side to resemble an NES controller, or a Nunchuk could be attached for more intense games. The latter combination proving to be really comfortable as it allowed you to play games with your arms stretched apart. While the motion controls didn't always work the way they were intended, it was still a major game changer.

#6: Joy-Cons

The Nintendo Switch and its Joy-Con 1-uped everything the Wii U’s GamePad brought to the table, with the added bonus of the controllers being removable. Whether you want to play on the console itself or on a larger screen, the Joy-Con can be very comfortably used with one in each hand, one held sideways with the option of sharing the second with a friend, or even attached to a Joy-Con Grip creating a more familiar gaming experience. It’s truly the most dynamic hardware Nintendo has ever released and the extremely unique capabilities of the HD Rumble are simply the cherry on the cake.

#5: Wii Classic Pro Controller

When Nintendo first announced that digital releases of their classic titles were headed to the Wii, the standard Wii Remote just wasn’t going to cut it for some SNES and N64 games. Thus Nintendo released the Wii Classic Controller, which looked like an SNES controller but with 2 analog sticks. It was serviceable at best, but the later released Classic Pro Controller blew it out of the water. While being distinctly similar to contemporary controllers, namely the PS3 and Xbox 360, the added grips, sturdier analogue sticks, and very large d-pad was an absolute joy to play with while still maintaining that Nintendo look. A bit of an honourable mention here, they also made a similar Pro Controller for the Wii U, but oddly enough, put both analogue sticks in the primary positions on the controller, the only major controller to ever do that. Though it was a nice novelty, it wasn’t ideal for all titles.

#4: N64 Controller

For many reasons, the Nintendo 64 controller is an undeniably iconic and important piece of gaming history. Thanks to its “Control Stick”, it revolutionized gaming by allowing full, 3D movement on a home console for the very first time, paving the way for more realistic game environments players could fully explore and interact with. While its bizarre design is also responsible for the first back trigger on a controller, it also led to shoulder triggers being standardized on all modern gaming controllers. PlayStation may have influenced the Wii Pro Controllers, but all modern consoles have the N64 to thank for the comfortable controller designs we have today. Its only real downside is the awkward M-shape, which proved to be a bit confusing for new players to understand.

#3: SNES Controller

After the NES controller’s more edgy design, the Super Nintendo sought to rectify this by having a rounded controller instead. The SNES also added more buttons, creating the “A B X Y” layout still used by Nintendo and Microsoft today. It has a great, responsive directional pad which was, and still is, perfect for 2D gaming. Lastly, it was the first controller to have shoulder buttons, creating yet another industry standard for gaming controllers.

#2: GameCube Controller

In 2001, the Nintendo GameCube controller offered an unmatched gaming experience, and many argue that it still does today. Certainly more comfortable than its competition at the time, the GameCube controller is distinctive without being awkward to use. Its buttons all varied in shape and/or size while being accordingly colored, making it very easy to pick it up and play with. Then there’s the wireless rebirth of the controller in the “Wavebird”, the first popularized wireless controller which was just as comfortable to use as the original. Overall, it was unmatched in its ability to play games like “Super Smash Bros. Melee” – so much so that brand new GameCube controllers are still being sold and used for the Nintendo Switch, and specifically “Smash Ultimate”, today.

#1: Switch Pro Controller

Just like with the Wii & Wii U Pro Controllers, the Switch Pro Controller also targets hardcore gamers who prefer to avoid home console accessory gimmicks. However, it’s got an extra ten years of technological developments on the Wii, which makes the Switch Pro controller easily the most comfortable controller Nintendo has ever released. It works well and trumps over other controllers in terms of battery life – you’ll be able to play for hours without even thinking about charging it, something PS4 players will certainly envy, since the LED wreaks havoc on how they hold a charge. The original Joy-Con are great and all, but if you’re diving into a long game like “Breath of the Wild”, or you want to start playing competitively, investing in a Switch Pro Controller will only improve your gaming experience.