As Details Emerge About the Next Playstation, I say Goodbye to the DualShock Controller

There has been a recent flood of information leaking the technical aspects of the new Playstation (and Xbox), that suddenly has everyone realizing that the official unveiling of Sony’s new system is indeed imminent. While we’ve learned a lot more about that new Playstation in the last week thanks to those leaks, there is still a great deal of the unknown as gamers eagerly await to see what Sony’s next gen system will bring them.

One thing that is becoming clear though is that the classic DualShock controller will not be part of that unveiling, as several sites, citing internal sources, are now reporting that Sony will be ditching their tried and true DualShock controller design and coming up with a fresh model. While it is unknown if the new Playstation controller will maintain basic elements of that old controller, already there are rumors of new features like a built-in touch LCD screen, and biometric sensors in the controller that would allow for readings of player’s certain physical properties such as sweat and nerves that could affect things like the character’s aim.

Obviously with Nintendo going bonkers with the Wii U remote (and redefining what a controller meant to a system with the Wii) every other company was going to have to step up their designs, and so this announcement is a bittersweet one, due in large part to the DualShock controller being the greatest video game controller of all time.

Even if you ignore the most basic features of the controller like it’s smart layout and curvy features that just naturally felt right in your hands, it’s the dual analog sticks and vibration ability that secures that lofty title for the DualShock. It’s easy to forget that the re-design from the original Playststion was a response to the analog stick on the N64, as it became quickly evident that the traditional four direction D Pad was not going to be enough to properly handle a new generation of 3D gaming. Humorously though, with the original dual analog controller re-design (minus the rumble feature) Sony still included a little button that would turn the analog feature on and off so gamers wouldn’t feel overwhelmed or burdened by the new technology. They in fact wouldn’t make a game that fully required its use until the brilliant “Ape Escape” which made considerable beneficiary use of the new design.

Slowly though, the gainful advantages of the dual stick design became immediately evident as it allowed for an unimpeded 360 degree movement system that was still as precise as any single direction direct input. Just imagine trying to play a modern FPS on a console without the dual stick layout, or a third person action or platform game without the freedom of movement and camera control at the same time. As for the built in rumble feature, you just need to recall “Metal Gear Solid“, and that moment where “Psycho Mantis” moves your controller by activating the rumble at a high capacity. It was an all time classic moment in video games that wouldn’t have been possible without the feature, and is just an example of the new level of interaction that the device was capable of providing.

It all came together to form the perfect gaming controller. When you look back at certain controllers, they’re often too simple, too cluttered, or too specifically remembered for their value in certain titles (the N64 and “Goldeneye” or the original Xbox controller and “Halo” for instance). Games always found a way to smartly use just about every button on the DualShock, and it worked for every style of game, not making itself noteworthy for one title above any other. It’s why Sony felt there was no need to change the design for the Playstation 2 or Playstation 3 (slight modifications and wireless functionality aside), and truthfully if they wanted to, it could still hold up for the next generation some 15 + years after the original design’s retail release.

It’s hard to fault Sony for reconsidering the controller for their next system, but even if they don’t maintain the design of the DualShock, we can only hope they remember the spirit of it, and engineer a controller that doesn’t strive to change gaming, but instead accounts for the natural evolution of the medium and inadvertently does so in the process.

The Last Straw for “The Last Guardian?”

In what may one day register as the final nail in the coffin either creatively or totally for “The Last Guardian,” producer of both “ICO” and “Shadow of the Colossus” Kenji Kaido, has left Sony Computer Entertainment.

He announced the news earlier on Twitter where he said:

“I have some news. This August, I left Sony Computer Entertainment. My plans for the future are undecided as of now, but for the time being I’m going to continue my summer vacation.”

There is no official word on what, if any, involvement Kaido had on “The Last Guardian,” but since he was one of the driving forces for Team ICO, it’s hard to imagine he didn’t have a hand in designing the troubled title at some point.

Trouble is definitely the only word you can use for “The Last Guardian” when you also take into consideration executive producer Yoshifusa Hayama’s departure from the title to join Bossa Studios, a Facebook game company, and Sony’s admittance to the game’s developmental problems forcing them to send over developers from Sony Santa Monica to help finish the game. These kinds of actions, combined with extreme development time, don’t usually mark a future game of the year candidate in the making.

Regardless of his capacity on the development of “The Last Guardian,” Kaido’s separation from Sony is a sad end to a career with the gaming giant that included two of the greatest cult hits of all time, “Ape Escape” and “Tomba!” (which is soon to be available for download on Vita), as well as “ICO” and “Shadow of the Colossus” which are not only two of the greatest video games of all time, but two of the most artistically important as well.

Honestly at this point, I don’t want to see what “The Last Guardian” is looking like. This isn’t a title like the “Guitar Hero” games or the “James Bond” films that can be tossed around between different people and still produce enjoyable results, but rather a title in a series that almost solely represents the full artistic potential in video games, without losing a touch of entertainment value in the process. And unlike the similar situation involving “Bioshock Infinite” the troubles with “The Last Guardian” have been well documented long before a playable model was ever shown, and key developers started jumping ship.

Oh well, if worse comes to worse I guess we will always be able to reminisce over that incredible trailer released for the game, and wonder what may have been.

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