Its no secret that the good old days of gaming were used extensively as a guinea pig for many strange, unique and down right useless peripherals. Many companies threw outrageous products onto store shelves in hopes it would catch on and become part of the video game craze. Today I will be taking a look at possibly one of the most unique controllers that came out of the vintage gaming era, the Turbo Touch 360 for the NES.
At first glance many gamers will notice its Sega Genesis controller shape. Turbo Touch controllers were available for the NES, SNES and the Sega Genesis, with only the color and button configuration changing between them. Shortly after they will undoubtedly notice the fact that there is absolutely no D-pad, but don’t let that scare you quite yet.
I picked up a Turbo Touch 360 a while back and featured it in Sam’s Scores. At that time I only had one complaint, which was that they only made them in the Sega Genesis shape. Well after playing with it for a while I came up with an additional complaint; if you need to hold down B to run and press A to jump, the A button often times becomes stuck. More recently I acquired yet another so I figured I would give it a once over to make sure everything worked, yet again the exact same problem plagued this controller as well, so I assume this is just inherent all NES versions.
When I got my first NES I started with a stock rectangle controller, graduating to a 3rd party controller shaped more like the Famicom controllers (rounded edges) with built in turbo buttons, since then I’ve adopted the NES Dog bone as my favorite NES controller. All that being said, the point here is to say all those controllers are tiny compared to the behemoth that is the Turbo Touch 360.
The Turbo Touch 360 has built in turbo buttons that work quite well, but since the A and B buttons are significantly larger I sometimes find it difficult to transition back and forth between them. This may just be a slight issue, but it may also be compounded by the fact my mind is telling me that I’m playing NES games with a Genesis controller.
Now we get to the most unique part of the Turbo Touch 360, as well as the feature that gave the controllers their name. As you can plainly see there is no D-pad, at least not the design we’re familiar with, rather there is a small plastic disc with a sort of braille built in to let you know what to expect as you move your thumb around the octagonal hole. It may take a little while to get used to but it is quite easy to use.
For lack of a better name I’ll be calling it a D-pad from here on, and in terms of D-pads the Turbo Touch 360 is no less accurate than any other third party controller I’ve ever owned. Super Mario Bros. is a great test for new controllers as you can quickly and readily use any of the buttons on the controller at any given time. In doing so this style of D-pad made me jump into holes and slide into enemies, but again no more so than any other third party controller.
The depth of the concave octagon is a little deep when you’re used to a raised D-pad, so there may be a slight learning curve all around when using a Turbo Touch 360. The edges of the octagon are rounded off nicely, which makes using the d-pad slightly more inviting. The controller’s overall shape is rounded in many areas but still too blocky for its own good, although it resembles it in shape its nowhere near as comfortable as the Genesis controller.
I haven’t dared to take the D-pad apart and see how it work because I’m afraid I may never be able to get it back together. The D-pad doesn’t have a spring/gummy feeling like normal D-pads, so I don’t see there being any carbon pads underneath. However it works it does quite well, but I’m not brave enough to take it apart and find out.
I love to collect weird controllers, as I’m sure I’ve documented quite well here on the site. While the Turbo Touch 360 isn’t something I would use all the time, thats just personal preference and has nothing to do with the controller itself. Perhaps I could take the controller apart and fix the sticky button issue, play with it more often to get over the strange feeling of using a Genesis controller on my NES and enjoy the controller a lot more than I do, but I just prefer the simplicity of using the controller I’m already accustom to.
Now I leave you with this strange ad I found for the Turbo Touch 360 while doing research for this article, enjoy!
About the author
Samuel Floyd first fell into video gaming with the Atari 2600...in the mid-90s! Always late into the system wars, Samuel enjoys that as he acquires them when they're cheap and the hot titles of yesteryear are bountiful. Samuel loves RPGs, his favorite being Crystalis for the NES.