The recently revealed original Xbox controller prototypes keep up a fine tradition of absurdity
Recently revealed prototype controllers for the original Xbox keep up the longstanding tradition of absolutely bonkers game-pad mock-ups.
Seamus Blackley, one of the designers behind the original Xbox proposal in the late 90s through to the console's release in 2001, revealed the prototypes on his Twitter page (and picked up via Gamasutra), showing off designs that look markedly similar to the controller used by Sega's Dreamcast. They all feature housing units for what looks like a VMU - the memory card with its own LCD interface that the Dreamcast employed - and perhaps my favourite detail is how all sketches are accompanied by a character from Capcom's Power Stone, one of the Dreamcast's high-profile games.
Some original Xbox controller designs from November 1999. Enjoy! pic.twitter.com/cTReQCJ96s— Seamus Blackley (@SeamusBlackley) June 26, 2016
One more Winter 1999 Xbox controller proposal. pic.twitter.com/Riryz7CCS5— Seamus Blackley (@SeamusBlackley) June 26, 2016
Perhaps all that shouldn't come as a surprise - as Blackley later said, the Dreamcast was king at the time (even if history has diminished its impact), and Microsoft already had close ties with Sega.
Microsoft's relationship with the Japanese company was strong at the turn of the century, the firm having developed a special version of Windows CE for the Dreamcast while Sega reciprocated by providing support for the original Xbox with the announcement of an 11 game deal for the console at the Tokyo Game Show in 2001.
We're used to seeing slightly leftfield concepts for game controllers. Microsoft explored the ability to employ smell that would match gameplay via the Xbox One's controller, as well as looking into a projector that would beam out ambient imaged from the pad. Perhaps most famously, Sony's PlayStation 3 was revealed alongside an uncomfortable looking boomerang controller that was soon quietly retired.
My favourite, though, remains the Nintendo Star Controller, a strange and garish example that preceded the launch of the Wii in 2006. Nintendo chose to go another direction with that controller and the rest, as they say, is history.