As a man, I find I can’t possibly put enough things into my mouth. As a gamer, I find that the only thing that fills the palm of my hand more than a bottle of Code Red Mountain Dew is a game controller. Not all controllers are created equally, and with rigorous bite testing, I’m afraid. At least, not according to MY mouth.
10. Sega Genesis controller – This hard plastic boomerang may seem an odd choice, but it’s the Start button on this controller that gets all of the incisor love. Something about the way this small Tic-Tac shaped button can be flicked is endlessly entertaining to my strange sensibilities. Attacking it from the top and flicking it on my front teeth is like scratching a dog behind the ears.
9. Paperboy arcade controller – This one…this one is difficult to pull off without a shit-ton of money or some serious cat-like reflexes. Even with feline speed, you’ll really only get in one or two bites on the wonderfully nubbly handlebar grips before having to resume play and avoid the prying eyes of long-haired, vest-clad arcade attendants. For this reason, the Paperboy handlebars are best used for those game ending expressions of ultimate rage, compounded by the fact that the arcade cabinet is far too large to throw across the room. When that fucking remote control car makes three random 90 degree turns right into your bicycle and ends your game, locking your jaw onto one of those grips and squeezing like a pit-bull is not only an effective release, it’s also easy on your fillings.
8. NES controller – Despite its popularity, you would be ill-advised to go directly after this classic controller. The NES controller itself is basically a brick of plastic, able to withstand multiple high-impacts and bites. However, let us talk about the cord, oh, the marvelous cord of the NES controller. When my parents hid me and my brothers under a blanket in the back of our station wagon to avoid paying full price at the drive-in movie theater, our reward for silence was a full Red Rope of licorice. I’m not talking Red Vines or Twizzlers, here, with their awkward, twisted braiding. I was all about the smooth, silkiness of a Red Rope licorice length that could slide along your teeth with the greatest of ease. I’ve never really like the flavor of licorice, and the NES controller cord is a far better surrogate than an actual Red Rope due to its lack of flavor and extreme length. Munch on as much or as little of it as you want, there’s plenty. Share with your friends. Recreate the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp. Go nuts you crazy kids.
7. Intellivision disc pad – Goddamn this controller. It’s nearly impossible to control anything with it, its side-buttons are minuscule, and its phone-like cord offers little, if any, distance from the TV. The face buttons, though, as useless as they were during a game, had the kind of solid, poppy feel that you can’t find anywhere short of the board game Trouble’s Pop-o-matic Bubble. You can pop a lot of trouble on the Pop-o-matic Bubble, but the game board and size of the thing make it impossible to get your mouth around. Not so with the Intellivision controller. As thin and delicious (and operable) as a Hershey’s chocolate bar, popping those buttons with your teeth is 50 times more satisfying than with your fingers or a penis.
6. NES Advantage – The NES Advantage is a solid, well-built controller made to withstand the pressures of arcade style joy-sticking, slapping, and twisting. Short of the feet on its bottom surface, not one piece of squishy rubber was used in its construction. Its saving grace is that the knob on top of the joystick can be unscrewed and popped into your mouth like a Willy Wonka jawbreaker. As everlasting as any solid piece of plastic, its glossy surface slides along the gums in a most satisfying way, and makes you look like Rollie Fingers on the pitcher’s mound without the hideous tobacco smell or stains. For those of you that were unawares, a NES cart dust cover can also double nicely as a spittoon.
5. Racing Wheel – In the world of racing, a “white-knuckled” race does not refer to a driver’s hands losing blood as he grips the steering wheel tightly, but, instead to the end result of a particularly horrible wreck in which the driver’s teeth are embedded into the soft grip of their steering wheel. I totally made that up, but what better way to kill time and relieve tension while you are in the pit, waiting for the green light, or during your victory lap, than the soft, supple curves of your imitation Italian leather steering wheel. I mean, just look at; it’s shaped like a teething ring! The steering wheel is probably the only controller that you can still use effectively while chewing, which allows you to complete other important tasks, such as, mixing a martini, pouring a beer, lighting a cigarette, or punching the clown. Another great benefit of the steering wheel is that they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures for your chewing pleasure. A la (Mario) carte!
4. Nintendo DS stylus – “That’s not a controller!”, you may say, and to that, I say, “Bite me.” (HA!) As we all know, pen chewing is dangerous pursuit that can end in ink-filled mouth tragedy. With the Stylus, you can chew with the confidence that when you show up to your next dental exam, the hygienist won’t wonder about the light shade of blue that coats your molars. Careful you don’t get too aggressive, as a flattened out Stylus won’t fit so easily back into its holder.
3. Pelican NERF Playstation 2 controller – Nothing is more synonymous with squashy than the NERF brand of sporting goods and equipment. Given gamers’ predilection for frustration and angst, the geniuses at third-party hardware maker Pelican decided to create a licensed controller that actually made sense. The PS2 NERF controller was mostly made to combat the ever present danger of throwing your controller against the wall/ground/sister/TV when things in Ape Escape just got a little too heated. Rather than hard, unforgiving plastic, this controller is encased in a soft mold of foamy rubber that has saved hundreds of dollars in lunch money. While protection from sudden impacts is its primary purpose, I’d have a hard time believing that there wasn’t at least one person in the Pelican testing department that spent a good chunk of time nibbling on this thing and giving it their chomp of approval. Just try it yourself; this controller is a love letter to your mandible. While NERF is great fun to chew on, it doesn’t work so well in the tummy, so if you find little bits of controller on your tongue, just remember that NERF stands for Never Eat Rubbery Foam.
2. Atari 2600 joystick – The gold standard for years since its inception, the Atari 2600 joystick has recently been surpassed as the controller of choice for mouth fetishists everywhere. That’s not to say that the controller is not an excellent source of mastication relief. I’m sure there are those that would still prefer the phallic shape of a well-worn Atari 2600 joystick to any of the latest “next-gen” offerings, if for nothing more than its nostalgic feel. Sinking your teeth into one of these babies is like taking a trip back to a time when putting things in your mouth was expected and not chastened. Note: while you may be tempted by one of the “new” Flashback multi-game, or plug-and-play Atari devices, be forewarned that, most likely due to newly enacted safety regulations, these just don’t have the same feel as an original, classic Atari 2600 controller, and should therefore be avoided.
1. Wii-mote (with Jacket) – Recently, I was playing Barbie’s Island Princess with my daughter. As she took her turn in the Javelin Throw, knocking down multiple bananas from the target trees, my eyes began to glaze over and my hand moved instinctively towards my gaping maw. It was then that I discovered that the Wii-mote, in combination with its safety jacket, has a fantastic mouth feel, very reminiscent the Atari 2600 joystick, but with a durability that surpasses that of the old stand-by. In between rounds of Ballroom Dancing, Flower Collecting, and Dress Designing, the Wii-mote with jacket maintained a spongy, yet firm tooth resistance that always returned to regular shape with little to no teeth marking or damage. So tooth alluring is the Wii-mote, that I caught quite a bit of guff from my daughter for often missing my turn. What does she know? She doesn’t even have any teeth!