With the Dreamcast, Sega went back to using the term "controller" for its main form of input, having previously preferred the term "control pad" with the Sega Mega Drive and Sega Saturn. As is to be expected, it increments on ideas seen with previous Sega hardware, being the logical progression from the Saturn's 3D Control Pad, originally debuting in mid-1996 as a response to the Nintendo 64. However, the 3D Control Pad was not as widely adopted as perhaps hoped, so the Dreamcast is the first (and only) Sega console to be equipped with analogue controls straight out of the box.
On the top left of the controller sits an "analogue thumb pad" (analogue stick), above a four-way directional pad (D-Pad), a Start button in the centre of the controller and A, B, X and Y face buttons on the right. On top of the controller there are two analogue triggers, L and R in the top-left and top-right, respectively. Unlike the Sega Saturn (and Mega Drive) there are no C and Z buttons, and the controller has moved past the need for a switch to toggle between analogue and digital modes, seen on the 3D Control Pad.
The most striking difference with the Dreamcast controller is its two "expansion sockets" on the top. Typically the first socket (in front) houses a VMU (as there is a gap to see the screen) while the one in back houses other expansions such as the Jump Pack.
The Dreamcast controller stands as Sega's largest standard control pad for any of their systems, and was not redesigned during the console's run. Over the years it has run into some criticism, primarily for being uncomfortable for those with larger hands, but also for the high sensitivity of the thumb pad. Furthermore its lack of a second thumb pad was a noticable disadvantage when compared to the PlayStation 2 (and original PlayStation in its later years). It was also the last mainstream video game controller not to have vibration features as standard.
One curious design feature is the controller's wire, which comes out of the bottom, only to be looped back up and clipped in place so as not to get in the way. While unconventional, Sega appears to have designed it this way to assist with storage - that is to say, the wire can be wrapped around the controller and clipped at the end.
Many novelty Dreamcast controllers were produced in a wide variety of colors.
Western controllers have their D-Pads raised slightly higher, to make them more suitable for 2D games.
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