The Nintendo Game & Watch

Nintendo Game & Watch

Although not a home video game controller, this toy deserves special mention as being perhaps the single most influential innovation in controllers of the last 25 years.

The 1982 Donkey Kong Game & Watch features the invention of the cross-shaped control pad. It may now seem like an obvious control device, but it wasn't always so. It took some special circumstances for Nintendo to come up with the idea. The Game & Watch is a very compact toy and it required an especially compact, low-profile controller because it folds up when not in use. Before this, handheld games either just used buttons or had little joysticks sticking out of them.

The cross-shaped control pad was so simple and worked so well that it was used on every Nintendo game console - and also copied by nearly every single home video game manufacturer in the last 20 years.

Ancestors - Arcade Joysticks

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Descendants - Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo Game Boy

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