Your Tolerance For Odd Control Schemes

Compared to what I hear from most people, I’d like to think that I have a pretty high tolerance for unusual controls in games. I think I may have hit my limit though, and that limit is Kid Icarus Uprising.

Kid Icarus Uprising is probably a great game, probably worth the full $40 price tag. After firing up a rental for a little bit I felt the same sheen I do on all of Masahiro Sakurai’s games. I cannot get through a great game however, if it’s built on an uncomfortable control scheme.

Controls are one of the most basic reasons for why I can enjoy a game, whether that is the control layout or control responsiveness. I think that it’s probably what set’s Call of Duty above so many other shooters these days. If a game has excellent controls, I tend to enjoy the entire experience on top of that.

That said, I can usually tolerate odd controls if there’s an excellent game built on top of them. A prime example is tank controls. I still think Resident Evil 4 is probably better than all of the Gears of War games and probably any other third person shooter released since. Its control scheme is downright archaic, but the game is tweaked around those controls with absolute precision, and it makes them fit like a glove. With different controls it wouldn’t be the same game.

I also defended tank controls in other survival horror games – even the crappy combat in Silent Hill titles. Those aren’t action games – they’re games where you’re supposed to run from enemies and dodge them in an uncomfortable environment. Sure maybe that would’ve worked out better with “regular” controls and enemies designed to feel dangerous despite “regular” controls, but the end result worked.

On the other hand, I absolutely still cannot play a console Grand Theft Auto game because I hate their controls. I love everything else about those games, but the controls are a deal breaker for me. I can barely get through GTAIV and I’m still not even halfway through that game. Surviving action sequences in Rockstar’s pre-PS3 games is pain, and I can’t do it no matter how popular they are.

Even with the existence of the Circle Pad Pro for the 3DS, I was still fine playing Metal Gear Solid 3 and Resident Evil Revelations with one analog stick because of the kinds of games they are. Revelations doesn’t allow you to move around while shooting enemies at all because it’s a brooding horror game. MGS3 is a deliberately-paced stealth game where every bullet you fire is a calculated decision, so I can afford to take my time aiming with the face buttons.

Uprising on the other hand is a straight-up shooter. A very Japanese style of shooter, but a shooter nonetheless. I just don’t like Sakurai’s decision to build the whole game around using the stylus to aim.

The on-rails sections of the game are fine. If the whole game was just on-rails sections it would be perfectly playable with just the stylus. Some of you may look down on an on-rails shooter, but if it’s as developed as Uprising is I’m totally fine with it. Hell I miss the days of Time Crisis.

Once Pit’s feet touch the ground though, it’s a standard 3rd person shooter with only one analog stick and an awkward substitute. I was not gonna sit there and cramp my hand trying to control what felt oddly like a Nintendo-Gears with a stylus, so I decided to switch to the face buttons for the on-foot sections. I’m not gonna switch back and forth between that and the stylus for the on-rails sections for the whole game.

Even applying the Circle Pad Pro won’t get you dual analog with Uprising – just a left-handed control scheme. I’ve already been told that the game reaches a point where you just can’t win with anything other than the stylus. In my opinion the fact that even winning requires putting up with such a control scheme means there is something fundamentally wrong with the game.

Now, I rented this game, and thus didn’t get to play it with the stand, which I imagine mitigates the problem and makes the whole thing playable with the stylus. The fact that Uprising has to come with the 3DS stand just to play comfortably though is damning in itself.

I understand though: It’s kind of a Japanese tendency to make games with weird control schemes because designers over there don’t conform as much as western game designers do. Many of the best works in Japan’s gaming history have a learning curve for their basic controls. I’ll be one of the first to say that every shooter doesn’t need to control like Gears, but at least come up with something that doesn’t injure my hands.

It’s sad that I feel this way, because I’m immensely impressed by everything else in Uprising. It is a shockingly deep game, what with its nine difficulty levels that interact with the mechanics in various ways, weapon stats systems, and other nice things. The way Uprising treats achievements is honestly genius. It is Nintendo game design in its usual top shape.

Like I said though, basic controls mean a lot to me when playing a game. I’ve enjoyed unpopular games almost purely because of good controls, and I’ve criticized popular ones for awkward controls. To me they are one of the foundations of how fun a game can be.

Now get to work on Super Smash Bros. Sakurai.


  • Capcom basically denying a Wii-U version of Resident Evil 6 sounds like bad news for Nintendo 3rd party support once again. And this is coming from one of Nintendo’s biggest 3rd party supporters. If the Wii-U doesn’t get a version of Black Ops 2 this year I think that’ll be a really bad sign.
  • I’m gonna have to eventually buy this deck of Zelda playing cards.
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One thought on “Your Tolerance For Odd Control Schemes

  1. volvocrusher says:

    The stand really makes that much of a difference. I tried a level without it on a whim and it was unbearable. With it, I only had a problem with the controls twice, both of them in sections where I had to stay on a moving platform, but that’s because of how the movement works, not the aiming. It probably should have had dual analog controls, but the stand lets the ones we got work just fine. It feels as natural as any other shooter to me.

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