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GameCube (Games) Hardware

Nintendo to Drop D-pad 110

Posted by Zonk
from the players-to-manipulate-controller-with-their-noses dept.
pluke writes "Computer and Video Games reports that Nintendo plans to drop the humble d-pad from its next console along with the classic A and B buttons. Nintendo pioneered the d-pad on its 80's Game & Watch handheld games system."
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Nintendo to Drop D-pad

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  • My inner geek cried a little when reading that! Luckily, I still have my old NES with the classic D-Pad and A/B buttons so I'm not too saddened. I'd love to know what they'll replace it with but, as usual, they're keeping tight lipped. Oh well....
    • Re:Madness (Score:2, Interesting)

      by supersuckers (841107)
      Likely just dropping it in favor of the analog stick. Anyone remember the nes max controller? [axess.com] It had a, well, look at the picture. I hated it and would always use the outer black edge to control instead of the moveable thumb pad thing. I never used the dpad on my gamecube controller, but part of that is because I feel they made it too small. The xbox and ps2 ones have a better feel. Anyhow, I guess the only use left for the ol' dpad is on a belt buckle [nesbuckle.com]
      • The NES Max was the best controller!

        The little moveable thumb-thingy was worse than useless but the black circle on the outside beat any D-pad all to hell for diaganol movement.

        Add the turbo buttons and the ergonomic (for 10-year old hands) shape to the magical black circle of diaganol movement and it was in a league of it's own.

        Best. Controller. Ever.

        (Maybe just because that's what I had growing up...)

        • Re:Madness (Score:2, Insightful)

          Pardon me sir?

          The NES Advantage [8bitjoystick.com] was the best controller ever. End of discussion. The turbo features on it were inspired - you could actually control the amount of turbo you needed. Besides, the thing was sturdy as a brick. It was truly a controller ahead of its time.

          • I agree. The Advantage was my favorite controller for the NES. The adjustable turbo was great, but the slo-mo feature was pretty useless. It basically strobed the start button to pause/unpause rapidly.
        • Power Glove, end of discussion. I never had more fun with that thing than when I first opened the box.
          • I had more fun with it when I returned it for a copy of Strider and DuckTales.

            The thing was a hunk of junk.

            Or maybe you'd like to try to hammer out the Konami code on that evil controller?
            • Or maybe you'd like to try to hammer out the Konami code on that evil controller?

              It was easy- you did it on the little real buttons and d-pad on the armpiece. duh.
          • I never had more fun with that thing than when I first opened the box.

            Yup. "Oh boy. A new toy!". Then you opened the box and thing went downhill real fast.
          • I had more fun with the box the glove came in than I ever had with the glove. It was a novel idea, ahead of it's time, but the tech just didn't live up to the expectation. It wasn't cool, just awkward.
      • Ahh, I have one of these. :) Indeed, I always used the black outer part of the directional control.
      • Re:Madness (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RevAaron (125240) <revaaron&hotmail,com> on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:36PM (#11170099) Homepage
        I mean, they already have replaced the d-pad in favor of the analog stick. At least, in practice. The N64 and GC both have d-pads- but in most games in both cases you never even touch the d-pad.
        • Yeah, but a lot of the good games are much better and easier control IMO when you use the d-pad; WarioWare, Ikaruga, Alien Hominid, Tetrisphere...
    • Yep, the NES was the bread and butter of my game-playing youth. I developed a blister and then a callous on the end of my left thumb that persisted for several years because of that. I still think it is the best movement control for scrollers or platformers. The only design problem I saw with that first NES design was how hard it was on your thumb because of the rough edges/corners and those arrow symbols engraved into the plastic on each direction. I remember playing Tecmo Super Bowl often at a friend'
  • ...upupdowndownleftrightleftrightBAselectstart is not so easy in analog. There are some good things a D-pad is needed for.
    • You can actually play through the game without dying, and earn your 30 lives instead of cheating for them.

      My online trophy room [geocities.com]
      • Re:Contra is fair (Score:2, Insightful)

        by blighter (577804)
        But if you can play through without dying, what use are 30 free lives?

        Especially since you only get them just after completing the game without dying...

        That's like making the prize for finishing the 72 oz steak... another huge steak that you can only eat right then.

  • Ok, so what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mcnut (712202)
    I'm not really too surprised that as a symbol of their "revolution" that the traditional items of Nintendo will die... What I want to know, and what I think is going to be the only thing that matters is: how many games are there going to be on rollout, and will they for the first time since the SNES actually have a decent flow of games throughout the system life. I have a Gamecube that waits for the next Zelda or Mario (even another luigi game for god's sake). It gets used about once every 3 months when th
    • Nintendo, the revolution we're looking for has a lot less to do with the hardware.. and a lot more to do with the games!

      Which is why I can't even find time to play all the games I've bought in the past month or two: Metroid Prime 2, Paper Mario, Pikmin 2, Donkey Konga, Mega Man Anniversary Collection... they're not all platformers or adventures like Mario or Zelda. But they're all fun, and worth playing when I have the time. And those are just the games I've bought recently, there are plenty more. I do
  • On the A and B buttons: Maybe it's that the only Nintendo systems I have ever owned are the original cream-of-spinach Game Boy and the GBA, but I'm not exactly mourning the loss of these two letters as button names. Am I missing something here?

    On the D-pad: Fine with me, as long as every single game on the next-gen system is a 3D platform jumper or shooter, and not a single puzzle game or RPG with lots of menus or what have you comes out. I was only content with the loss of the paddle controller after t
    • Well, it's sheer speculation, but the new controller could have some sort of touchscreen on it. If that's the case, a menu probably wouldn't be that bad of a thing, as you could just select the items.
      • =P count me out. Having to look away from the TV, take a hand off the controller, take the stylus out of its silo, look at the touchscreen, tap on it a few times, put the stylus back in the silo, put the hand back in its original position, and look back at the T.V. is way too disruptive to maintain any sort of immersion.

        When I play RPGs and tactics games, I want to be thinking about nothing but what's happening on the T.V. screen and whether or not I'm eating too many Doritos.
        • Well, from what I've seen of the DS (Don't own one yet) theres actually a little strap with a stylus point you can put on your thumb. That way you can use your thumb on the screed without taking you hand off the thing. Keeps your greasy skin off the screen too...
  • For one split second, I really did read the title as "Nintendo to drop dead".
  • by ChibiLZ (697816)
    Rest assured that no matter what they replace the d-pad with, it will be pulled off very well, and will most likely change the face of video game controls for years to come.

    And you'll get to use this control scheme to play yet another Mario Party game, as well as 2 new Pokemon games, 8 new Harry Potter games, but unfortunately only a couple really great Nintendo properties.

    Don't listen to me, I'm just bitter that we don't have a Kid Icarus sequel. Bastards.
  • Ever try playing it with the analog joystick? Horrible. A drag to know I'll have to shell out more cash for an analog stick to play it.
    • If you're serious about fighting games though, there's absolutely no reason not to go out and drop some cash on a good arcade stick.

      Gotta love the old school digital joystick technology.
      • If you're SERIOUS about fighting games, you'll go out and hack your favorite console's controller to handle arcade parts. That'll be a lot harder to do with analog directional pads. Or you might just wait until you can afford the arcade board to plop into your arcade cabinet of choice.
      • I was able to win on hardest SF2 original, with all perfect rounds on SNES. In the arcades I have sometimes have trouble throwing fireballs.
  • D-pad is necessary (Score:4, Interesting)

    by superstick58 (809423) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @12:10PM (#11169111)
    So 20 years ago the D-pad was a revolutionary new way to control and replaced the analog joystick. Now the analog joystick is the revolutionary new way to control and will replace the d-pad? The d-pad was created because it offered many benefits over an analog joystick:

    Smaller space constraints

    Better tactile feedback(push, click)

    Better for navigating 2D environments (menus)etc.

    I know I generally use the d-pad just as much as the analog stick on various games. It would be rather inconvenient to see it go.

    • You're forgetting that back then few joysticks were actually analog, most were digital and as far as digital control goes a dpad IS better. Also, back then joysticks came mostly in flightstick shapes, which are kinda impractical for platformers and the like.
      • Classic joysticks like the Competion Pro for the 8bit and 16bit computers were better than dpads in my opinion. A nice short stick and the satisfying click of the microswitches, you could completely own any console gamer in Sensi Soccer who insisted on using a joypad.

        This sort of joystick was also closer to the controls on the Arcade games of the time.
    • by gozar (39392)

      So 20 years ago the D-pad was a revolutionary new way to control and replaced the analog joystick. Now the analog joystick is the revolutionary new way to control and will replace the d-pad? The d-pad was created because it offered many benefits over an analog joystick:

      The d-pad actually replaced the digital joystick. Twenty years ago the only machines that I can remember having analog sticks were the Apple II and TRS-80. All the Ataris used digital sticks. Analog sticks didn't really come into their own

    • In Metroid Prime 2 Retro did a menu system that seemed to be designed to be navigated with an analog stick.

      It sucked ass.

      Dropping a digital pad is a bad, bad idea. You still need it for some things. As far as the A and B buttons are concerned, they'll just be changing the names for those, I'm sure.

      • Funny, virtually everyone I know really liked those menus.

        I'll definitely admit that they may not scale well, though.
      • Dropping the d-pad is indeed a bad idea. I like using it more than analog sticks in most games, and also, sticks wear out after many hours of play.

        That being said, the Metroid Prime 2 menus were pretty good once you got the hang of it. Perhaps revolutionary, because once you were adept, navigation was slightly faster when compared to a regular menu with the same amount of menu options.
    • "So 20 years ago the D-pad was a revolutionary new way to control and replaced the analog joystick."

      No it didn't. Analog sticks were a lot more expensive, required precious CPU resources, and really weren't practical for something like the NES because they were too big. Don't forget that the original NES came with 2 controllers, a Light gun, and 3 games.
  • GBA compatibility? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ksiddique (749168)
    If the Revolution will be able to play GBA games (which I have no idea if it will), dropping the D-Pad will be "teh suxx0rsz". I've got a GBA Player for my 'Cube and I'm so glad there's a D-Pad on my Wavebird. Playing GBA games with an analog stick just doesn't feel right.
  • Damn. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Switching visors just won't feel right.
    • Yep. That's about the only game I can think of that uses the dpad.
      • Mege Man Anniversary Collection. Analog stick isn't fast enough on digital movement action games like that. The travel distance for switching from a walk to the left to a walk to the right is *MUCH* slower on analog sticks as compared to d-pad. The inherent latency on some movements will drive one absolutely bonkers.
  • The loss of the D-Pad makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, but the loss of the A & B buttons? It seems silly for Nintendo to leave the X&Y or the C-buttons but get rid of the A&B, given their tie to history (unless this is just a gimmick to emphasize the "Revolution"). I'm thinking that if the A&B buttons are gone, then all buttons (save maybe one) are gone from the left side of the controller face. Everyone is thinking that Nintendo will still use the Analog pad, but given Ninten
  • Has this actually been confirmed yet? How is this supposed to work when the Revolution can play Gamecube games?? You can't play many of those games without a D-Pad. I'd take this with a grain of salt.
    • Re:Confirmed (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's an unconfirmed rumor.

      Anyone who was watching the gaming hype scene in the period running up to the gameCube's release should know that all speculative articles about Nintendo's controller design are pure bullshit. The design of the GameCube controller alone evolved many, many times. And that's just going on the mockups that Nintendo allowed people to see in the last months of the GameCube's development.

      For proof, just take a look at one of your GameCube controllers. If yours has a D-pad (yes, peop
  • by blueZhift (652272) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @12:57PM (#11169617) Homepage Journal
    I would guess two things. First, whatever new control scheme Nintendo has in mind for their next console will be built with the next Miyamoto game in mind (another Mario perhaps). And the new controls will adequately replace D-pad functionality and add enhancements.

    So I got to thinking about it and came up with analog thumbpits. The current analog game pad controls sit up like bumps on the controller and are a bit awkward to use as D-pad replacements. But imagine a soft rubber thumbsized pit. Your thumb would sit in this comfortably allowing you to naturally nudge it in a way analogous to moving the D-pad, but now you can do a lot more than the cross pattern such as pushing straight down and down at angles. So games could be developed where it makes a difference how fast or how far down you push with more freedom than the current analog sticks and buttons give.

    I would also expect some kind of touch pad to be included on the controller as well. No strike that, it's not necessary. In typical Nintendo fashion, the new console would have a port/ports for connecting the DS. Then you would just use the DS touch pad. They may still put a pad on the controller though since the DS scheme may be too awkward for the next Mario game. The touch pad has some interesting possibilities. For one thing, as a program configurable control I could see it becoming a keyboard for online chat. Not as good as a real keyboard, but much between than onscreen keyboards. (They might throw in a built-in mike like the DS has as well.)

    Finally, perhaps the next controller will have pressure sensitive grips. These grips would replace the buttons. Now each finger can provide input in what should be a more comfortable way, if engineered right. If even half of the above comes to pass, I'd expect the new controllers to be rather difficult to emulate by 3rd parties, which of course will mean more money for Nintendo.

    Heh heh, if even part of this is true, there may be a knock at the do...
  • This page [n-sider.com] has some speculation on Revolution controller possibilities and is a good, if somewhat old, look at what Nintendo has been doing for a while.

    I personally like the idea of gyro-enabled motion sensing controllers. Lots of possibilities there for increased gameplay if they do it right.

  • The D-pad is the only thing that keeps my wife playing games with me. She is a less-than-casual gamer, and has never embrassed the analog controls.

    I agree with the other comments, some game genres like puzzles are just much better to handle with a D-pad.

    I hope Nintendo doesn't make any mistakes in haste with getting this new system out and trying to break any misconceptions of their system being only for kids.

    I can see the big N trying to change "too much" just to overcome the critics.

    There is nother w
    • What about the idea of a controller with interchangable parts? You want dual-analog, you snap in the 2 analog controls. You want d-pad on the left, and analog on the right, you just snap in the controls into place. Or vice-versa... its up to you. That would be an interesting concept. nice idea in concept, except the wiring for digital or analog controls would be far too different to allow you to move things around without the controller being gargantuan, possibly even approaching the size of the original X
  • You knew the D-Pad was being evolved out. It went from the primary position in the old controllers to secondary status on recent controllers; Dreamcast, Xbox and GameCube. Most games only use it as a means of selecting weapons or menu items these days. Only the PS2 keeps the D-Pad (or D buttons) in the primary gaming position and that is simply because it is more important to Sony that the controller "look good" rather than arranging the elements based on frequency of use and usability. It is a carryover f
  • to mess with the competitions head, maybe it'll make sony or MS follow suit, only to be screwed over after nintendo releases thier console *with* a d-pad. Apple should start doing this, leak some screenshots of something that looks and sounds cool, but sucks ass in useability, and hope that the competition copies it while they ditch in before release. I'm hoping the nintendo revolution will have 802.11b/g wireless networking, maybe 5 gigs of internal storage, and a VR PORT, so that my dream of VR mmog's wil
  • Large Grain of Salt (Score:4, Informative)

    by mushroom blue (8836) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @02:29PM (#11170635)
    so Computer and Video Games is known to post not only rumors, but blatantly false information. they've had their asses nailed to the wall before for things like this, and I'm pretty sure this is simply another case of trying to get hits on their website.

    so yeah. until you see something more official (at least more official than this rag), take this story with a HUGE grain of salt.
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @03:11PM (#11171009) Homepage
    Certain types of games are better-suited to touchpads, trackballs, mice, cameras, etc. I am surprised that no aftermarket trackball controllers are available for home game consoles. Two types of games suffer from this limitation, and they are both types of games that do better on PCs than consoles:

    1) Resource management / icon-based / menu-based games
    - It is easier to move and click a mouse/trackball than with a joystick or d-pad.
    - Examples: The Sims, Black and White, Warcraft, etc.

    2) FPS games
    - The ability to quickly aim and
    - The ability to move with a different hand than the aiming hand
    - Examples: Doom, Quake, Half-life, Unreal, and probably 50% of PC games

    In general, a mouse/trackball offers higher-precision, greater feedback, and an infinite range of speeds over a d-pad or trackball. But it is bad with simple forward, backward, left, and right. But fewer games today use that model. Why do we continue to use these old-style inputs?

    FYI: This is called multimodal [informit.com] input, where each device complements the abilities of the other. The keyboard/mouse paradigm is the most generally powerful multimodal combination discovered thus far.
    • I can't imagine playing a Fighter with a trackball or mouse. In fact, Analog sticks stink for fighters too. And RPG games have little need for anything but a D-Pad and buttons. Then again, I can't think of too many of those types of games that exsist on any Nintendo-made console, so maybe they don't care. But it won't make me want to buy the console, as those are pretty much the only games I play. I agree on FPS games tho. A mouse/trackball is *so* much easier to use.
      I remember, back in the day, seein
  • by aztektum (170569)
    I hate this new controllers for every console. It's one reason why PC game accessories don't sell for crap. They keyboard/mouse works for almost anything except flight sims. Just another way to make money each time around, "Now you get to buy 3 more controllers to play with your friends!" I like the way the Gamecube controller works. The button layout is weird to look at, but puts the focus on the "A+B" gameplay type. Simple? Yes. Effective? Indeed. Oh well, I'm just curious where that Zelda game they sh
  • Ding, dong, the d-pad's gone,
    wicked pad,
    stupid pad,
    Ding, dong, the dumb-ass d-pad's dead!

    Gosh, and it only took what, 20 years for Nintendo, the original perpetrators, to abandon this atrocity. The d-pad is a sadist's exercise in reverse ergonomics. You make the player hit four buttons instead of using one stick, then you put it under his left thumb when he's probably right-handed. Brilliant!

    If you want a glimpse of how game controllers should look, go back in time and check out the epyx joystick: http [cedmagic.com]
    • You put it under the left thumb because while you typically do not need to change direction rapid-fire, you need to jump/shoot/fly that way.
      • I don't think so. The weaker hand is perfectly adequate for mashing buttons quickly -- all that takes is speed. Fine-grained directional control, on the other hand, requires agility, which is much higher in the stronger hand. And I don't know what kind of games you play, but in my experience you *do* change direction rapidly in most action games.
        • Yes, speed. Nobody said nuthin' about strength.
          Try tapping the table with the fingers on each hand
          as fast as you can. You have much better control over your writing hand.
    • Re:HOORAY! (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You're severely underexperienced with console gaming, and it shows.

      Who knows, maybe you are an old-school PC gamer who can't stand consoles, but seriously, the last thing an actual console gamer would argue about is the handed-ness of the traditional controller layout, or the d-pad's inadequacy compared to a right-handed digital microswitch joystick with no travel (like the crap Epyx joystick that you posted). I've used that thing before, and it would be a poor substitute for a d-pad with almost any of th
      • You're severely underexperienced with console gaming, and it shows.

        Wow, mr. anonymous coward, you sure saw through me. I've owned consoles ever since the original Pong, but you're right, I don't have any console experience. I bow to your superior insight!

        Who knows, maybe you are an old-school PC gamer who can't stand consoles, but seriously, the last thing an actual console gamer would argue about is the handed-ness of the traditional controller layout, or the d-pad's inadequacy compared to a right-ha

  • On the current gamepads both the d-pad and analog stick aren't in the most ergonomic position. One is too too high up. The other is too low and to the right of where my thumb naturally rests. With only an analog stick, the placement can be optimal again.

    Now if they would just shape the pad more ergonomically. Hold your hands and arms like they're holding a gamepad. The back of your hand and forearm ought to be a straight line because bending the wrist is terrible ergonomics. The current batch of game
  • Cool!

    Maybe I can have the controller on the righthand side for a change.

    I'm righthanded like most of the population, and it really sucks all consoles have that dumb lefthanded control system. I mean my left hand is great for mashing buttons, and holding stuff but is all but useless otherwise.
    • You should try playing Metroid Prime: First Hunt on the Nintendo DS. You can use your right hand on the touch screen, just like you would use a mouse. Your left hand does a WASD dance on the D-Pad and the left trigger shoots. Brilliant! Try the thumb-strap thing to. Your right-thumb acts JUST like a mouse!
  • Yes, let's all riot because they're analyzing their perspective and altering to fit a new set of goals.
  • That's what Nintendo is probably doing here.

    I just got Midway Arcade Treasures 2, a game in which the dpad is a preferred control scheme for most of the included classic arcade titles. The package was also released for PS2 and Xbox however. It plays roughly the same across all of them, because the controllers are all capable of the same things.

    By doing this, Nintendo is striking a blow against easy portability across consoles. I'd say this will work against them, although after the brilliant additions
  • This is just a rumor. What kinda bugs me is that Slashdot rejected another rumor that was far more interesting. That rumor was that the next Nintendo system may come with a VGA port. That may or may not be true, but I think most of us here would appreciate how cool that'd be.
  • by TheBot (806046)
    I do not believe this to be a good thing, except for 3rd party controllers. Example, you want to play a fighting game of an old school caliber, but the analog stick just doesn't feel right...Use the D-Pad, it's probably what you used when you first played anyway(Street Fighter II-Super Nintendo). I believe the D-pad on the Gamecube controller was way too small, and thus gamers didn't use it much. It's as big as my thumb, and that just doesn't work when I want to hit the right d-pad, not top, bottom, right
  • OENOES (Score:2, Funny)

    by m3g4t0ky0 (658410)
    How will we live without the D-pad and A & B buttons? What's next, Nintendo? The E-pad and C & D buttons?

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