A good friend of mine owned that exact same Ms. Pac Man plug and play joystick, it was absolutely awesome and had a great selection of Namco games. Plus, the joystick twists for when you play Pole Position which was a really tight little mechanic to include.
Most early games considered movement the ‘main’ control. Pong, breakout etc didn’t even have a ‘fire’ button, that really only came in with Space Invaders which was released after the VCS was already out.
So the stick was designed around the right hand controlling movement since most people are right handed.
All this talk about the orientation of the joystick and the buttons had me wondering what exactly the deciding factor was for ultimately putting the stick on the left side.
First, to find out how things started, I wanted to know which game was the first to feature both a stick and buttons.
Apparently, Sega’s electro-mechanical arcade game Missile (1969) was the first game to be controlled with both a stick and buttons.
So, buttons left, stick right, as you can plainly see here.
But hang on!
So, even back then it made the most sense (to Sega, at least) to have the controls for player movement on the left. On the other hand (pun not intended), perhaps they thought steering the missile required more precision than controlling the tank, so the dominant hand would be better suited for that specific task. This is all just speculation, though.
Then, my search took me to this Nintendo Life article:
What do you guys make of this? Honestly, I think it sounds a bit iffy (and where’s the proof?), but who knows, perhaps there’s some truth to it. What’s funny though is that the Jakks Pacific sticks make an appearance in the video the article links to.
I took a dive in the comments section of that article and found a comment worth quoting (edited for length):
Yeah, that pretty much sums up my thoughts about this.
All in all, I think it’s fascinating to see the humble beginnings and subsequent evolution of certain elements we usually take for granted in this wonderful hobby of ours.
Space Invaders, the most popular game of all time to that point, had movement on the left (via buttons) in 1978.
The JAMMA Standard was introduced in 1985, years after pre-Jamma Space Invasders and Donkey Kong sold millions. The Donkey Kong Game & Watch introduced the dpad in 1982 on the left, probably the first consumer device? And the Famicom pre-dates the JAMMA standard by two years too.
The reply is more correct. Most people are right handed. The dominant hand is better at twitchy and strong actions. This is why right handed guitars have the right hand do the seemingly less important ‘attack’ part while the left does the seemingly more important fingering.
When movement became the item that requited less precision than firing, it made sense to put the movement on the left and firing on the right.
I’d like to get the Golden Tee ones going cause I
have gotten more into GT lately both the old and new ones but the plug and plays I can’t seem to get them working / aren’t yet compatible with MAME, but I’d prefer not to be stuck on composite lol if I could lol.