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Joystiq presents

DS Daily: D-pad vs. stylus controls

Sometimes, a game offers us multiple control schemes. Either we can utilize the DS's unique touch-screen interface, or we can navigate the tried-and-true seas of the d-pad and the handheld's face buttons. While each game is different and we can't really generalize on which is a better control scheme overall, we do have our preferences, just as you must.

So, do you find yourself loving the idea of stylus controls, but often revert to d-pad-based solutions when confronted with the option? Or, do you think the precision of the touch-screen puts a skip in your step? Which do you prefer most of the time?

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Reader Comments (Page 1 of 3)


2-13-2008 @ 9:13AM

LordGek said...

While I like the idea of stylus controls, one of my biggest bits of "anality", as my wife can testify to, is screen smudges (be it TV, monitor, or even my glasses). I consider myself otherwise fairly mellow and nowhere near a neatnik but if somebody "touches" one of my screens I have a huge compulsion to immediately clean the resulting smudge. Frequent stylus use means smudges/scratches on the screen which is bad!


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2-13-2008 @ 9:20AM

Morose said...

Having played games that give me a choice between stylus and d-pad and games that force the use of one or the other, my opinions are A) I like having the choice and B) most of the time, I choose d-pad. there are some things that are faster/easier/etc with the stylus, but for basic movement-and-main-activities, i would rather use the d-pad and buttons.


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2-13-2008 @ 9:21AM

elend said...

I don't have too many problems with smudge on the screen since my DS stylus is not alive and thus fat absorbing. Or something like that.

I think the D-Pad of the DS could be way better. Aiming in the lower right corner in Contra is a PITA for me. So I generally prefer stylush controls. Especially those where you have to use only one hand and have the other one free... To do... things. You know.


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2-13-2008 @ 9:27AM

tamriel said...

I agree with Morose. In my case, I often play on the subway, which offers a bumpy ride. In there, stylus input becomes imprecise and error-prone. Also, I often think that D-pad controls are more comfortable, as holding the whole console in one hand while scratching away with the stylus in only really comfortable for me when playing a game that displays sideways, like Brain Age or Planet Puzzle League.


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2-13-2008 @ 9:31AM

Feigr said...

I would say that I prefer d-pad controls most of the time, although some games are great on the DS because of their stylus controls, the best example being Puzzle Quest. It's refreshing after playing Puzzle Quest or Phantom Hourglass to pop in a game without any stylus controls, like Mario Kart DS or Dragon Quest Monsters Joker, the variety of gameplay that is available on the DS really makes it stand out and keeps it fresh.


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2-13-2008 @ 9:32AM

kevin said...

The only games that drive me to face buttons almost exclusively are Advance Wars and Metroid. Everything else I'm more comfortable playing with the stylus.


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2-13-2008 @ 10:02AM

Hughesmar said...

Personally, I prefer d-pad controls. Using the stylus is usually geared towards right-handed people; I'm a lefty.


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NetOperator Wibby8

2-17-2008 @ 1:10AM

NetOperator Wibby said...

aha! i knew i wasn't the only lefty here. but i can deal with the stylus. im sort-of 60/40 on this topic (60 for d-pad).

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2-13-2008 @ 10:18AM

Hame said...

I don't mind all these 'new ways to play' but for me you just can't beat buttons. They're just so tactile and satisfying, they just feel right.


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2-13-2008 @ 10:20AM

Opus said...

D-pad. I mostly play on my commute to work, and it's easier to hold the DS using the d-pad.


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2-13-2008 @ 10:27AM

Raphael said...

D-Pad, but that's because I'm almost always "on-the-go" with my DS(bus, subway and such).
In those situations, I hardly have the necessary precision with the stylus.


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2-13-2008 @ 10:31AM

foosnark said...

I prefer the stylus for Picross DS (the only game I have that has the option, AFAIK).


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2-13-2008 @ 10:34AM

Synergistic said...

I'd have to say that it definitely varies from game to game.

I guess games that require more precision and action I'd lean towards the D-pad given the option.


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2-13-2008 @ 10:38AM

beans said...

Honestly it depends on the game. A game like Hunters where precision is key, the touch screen comes as a great asset. Although for this case I'd much rather the thumb strap than the stylus.


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2-13-2008 @ 10:38AM

Otty said...

It totally depends on the game. Some games are SO much better with stylus control (Puzzle Quest, Yu-Gi-Oh games etc) while others would be better if they used the d-pad etc. (Magical Starsign was a nightmare for me...all stylus and not very intuitive...)

With games that have the option of using either, it depends on the game. I don't use the stylus much with Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker...


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2-13-2008 @ 10:40AM

Corbindallas said...

I'm surprised at how little love the thumb leash gets. My DS Phat (red mario kart edition) came with this strap that went on your thumb (or any other finger for that matter) and had a hard plastic nub that you used to touch the screen. I found this to be the most comfortable and practical way for playing games like Metroid Prime: Hunters. Both shoulder buttons are easily reachable, and depending on your handedness, either the D-Pad or the A/B/X/Y buttons are comfortably used.

I was really disappointed when my DS Lite didn't have a thumb leash. :-(


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2-13-2008 @ 10:42AM

Mark said...

IN theory i like the stylus controls better, but in practice it never seems to live up. Although in theory i should be able to use the d-pad, but my fingers are too you can see this is a problem.


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2-13-2008 @ 11:05AM

hutze said...

It depends on the game, really..for Advance Wars for example I use the D-Pad, while I play Phoenix Wright mostly with the Stylus.


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2-13-2008 @ 11:15AM

Chris said...

I usually prefer the stylus only because the dpad on the DS is so hard to move at angles with.


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2-13-2008 @ 11:38AM

Karl said...

I personally prefer the tried and true Dpad. I'm not saying the stylus is taboo, however some games do suffer because of stylus only controls (zelda). In some games that focus primarily on UI interaction to control in game events the stylus is the prefered choice, especially in more complex games that would otherwise require many button presses. However, games like zelda, should have let the player choose what format to play with. I personally found the stylus quite uncomfortable, more so then the already cramped dpad.


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