TGFWC- Thank Goodness for Wireless Controllers

There's a lot to miss about the good old days of gaming but corded controllers may not be included on that list.

I’m often accused of waxing nostalgic for the past when it comes to video gaming. Sure, maybe I secretly long for those golden days of blowing on cartridge pins and stomping out turtles and walking mushrooms, I’ll tell you about one innovation I never miss: corded controllers.

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This conclusion came to me recently while I observed my young niece and nephew engaging in a sprightly game of tag around the chair I happened to be sitting in while playing my Playstation 2. Each revolution of said duo, which seemed to include increased laughter and decreased muscular accuracy, entailed that they leap the controller cord that ran half a foot above the floor to the aging console nestled within the entertainment center.

In addition to the gaming distraction that is two bodies zipping past the screen every 4-seconds, a new nightmare scenario began to form that fully pulled me away from any remaining concentration set aside for our old pal Solid Snake – it was all but a certainty that one of them would become entangled in said cord. Best case scenario would be the controller flying free of my grasp and hence becoming a 6.8 ounce projectile that would somehow avoid both them and the TV screen. Worst case scenarios involved bodily injury and/or vintage hardware transforming into a pile of sparking circuit boards after a short parachute-less flight.

In a move that I’d like to think looked like something out of “The Matrix,” I paused the game in bullet-time slow motion and leaned forward just enough to allow the cord to rest slack on the ground as my nephew jumped over where it had been instants prior. My pursuing niece, giddy with the prospect of making a tag and hence getting to tell her brother “you’re it”, caught the cord with her pink socked foot and started to topple like an Imperial Walker on the icy plains of Hoth.

My pursuing niece…caught the cord with her pink socked foot and started to topple like an Imperial Walker on the icy plains of Hoth.

Thanks to my quick thinking, the only resulting actions were that of a Dualshock 2 sliding a half-a-foot toward the television and my immediately telling their parents that was enough bonding time for one day.

While this may appear a cautionary tale of the dangers of unsanctioned sporting events, neglectful parenting or Sony’s lack of foresight by failing to integrate cord detachment points like Microsoft had with the original XBox, I bring all of these things up to tell you about my latest purchase: an original Nintendo Wii off eBay.

See in the event that you’re wondering what in the world I was doing, in this the era of the coveted Playstation 4, playing a crusty old Playstation 2 in the first place, allow me to justify. As newer systems come out, they sensibly take precedence on the very finite shelf-space on the entertainment center. Older, less played systems find their way into the backs of closets, deep within attics and, in rare moments of personal defeat, on Craigslist. Every once in a while, though, a system comes through the ranks with a library so wonderful that it simply cannot adhere to the usual rank & file system of things.

Enter my PS2 and its library of 80 + games; each painstakingly selected throughout the years to meet specific needs and desires. Additional accessories include five controllers, a multitap, nine memory cards and even a massive pile of demo discs sent to me directly from Sony back in the day. Too all-inclusive to end up in the attic as it were.

What I did was I designated the system and its massive library to become the domain of the basement game room; not to be confused with the living room, this designation meant the kids could access it as they saw fit when they were over visiting, play it with their friends, or use it as the backdrop for a competitive game of running around in circles with an outstretched hand.

For about the past two-years it has served its function fairly flawlessly but appears to finally be reaching the end of its rope there as well – almost literally given the recent situation. The point was further driven home when my nephew, who happens to have a PlayStation 3 at home, picked up one of the cords in question and asked, “Why do you always have your controllers charging?” Indeed.

So while I have been saving up to add another piece of technological wonder to the living room shelf in the PS4 this year, I opted instead to take $70 of it to order a gently used Wii with the Mario Kart bundle off eBay and another $50 to assemble a library of 14 (used) games at present. Sure blasting bunnies in Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 lacks some of the appeal of finally viewing the world of Grand Theft Auto V in first person perspective, at least future bouts of tag will be a bit safer for all involved.

In the mean time I’m not sure what to do with this PS2 and its glorious entourage. You’re probably familiar with the famous quote “old soldiers never die, they just fade away”, perhaps the same could be said of old hardware that serves 14-years of daily use and still seems to boot up without complaint. I suppose it has earned its rest.

Now if only there were some way to deliver electricity to these things without wires – you don’t want to know about the day I caught them playing Double Dutch with the extension cords.


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Author
Jason Russell
Jason Russell has been working in video game journalism since the early 1990s before the internet existed, the term "fanzine" had meaning and sailors still debated as to whether or not the earth was flat. More recently he has been the guy responsible for Thunderbolt Games' Under the Radar column. He's somehow managed to author seven novels, writes The Astounding Amoeba Armada comic book series for Coast Comics and runs the blog CG Movie Reviews in his spare time: https://cgmoviereview.wordpress.com/ And sometimes, when the planets align and the caffeine has fully left his system, it's rumored he sleeps.