Twin Stick Controls YKTTW Discussion

Twin Stick Controls
Full circle rotation for both movement and aiming with independent controls for each.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-07-15 04:28:15 sponsor: Recon5 (last reply: 2012-11-10 20:46:07)

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EDIT: Seems like the description needs quite a bit of work. I do know that the twin-stick style of gameplay dates at least as far back as Robotron 2084 and I did play quite a few of the 90s examples, but I know barely anything about the (proto-?)genre in-between R2084 and Geometry Wars. Assistance would be appreciated.
A specific kind of control scheme often seen today in top-down and isometric indie Shoot Em Ups which has different sets of directional controls for movement and aiming. The term comes from its usual manifestation on consoles where one thumbstick steers the craft while the other aims one or more turrets. The main distinction from 'regular' dual-thumbstick controls is that the player entity's movement and aiming lines can be rotated full circle independent of each other.

In truth, the control scheme itself is far older, going at least as far back as Robotron 2084. It had a strong showing in PC Shoot Em Ups of the early Nineties where in lieu of dual sticks, the directional arrows (as opposed to WASD) were used for movement and the mouse was used for turret control.

Though the modern resurgence of this control scheme is arguably driven by the success of console indie titles like Geometry Wars, the PC indie scene has kept the fire burning while Webgame developers are picking it up. WASD is often used for easier access to the number keys.

NOTES: As a 'genre label', the term 'Twin-stick shooter' tends to be applied to games with a Top-down or isometric camera. Games in First or Third-person perspective and side-scrollers do not receive this label even if they have similar controls. In addition,
  • Games that allow characters to lock on to a target while moving freely do not fall under this trope unless the full freedom of aiming is also available.
  • Top-down games where aiming is independent of movement but restricted to a 'realistic' arc relative to the character's facing technically count but are not usually given this label.
  • Thumbsticks have been the most practical controls for console First Person Shooters and Third Person Shooters for most of their history but such games are not usually given this label.

  • Robotron 2084 and its various iterations have a variation where the Player Character can only move and shoot in specific directions (8 ways each in the original arcade version, 4 ways each in some newer editions and home ports).
  • Smash TV was an early home console game using this control scheme.
  • Geometry Wars is the game that arguably led to the modern use of the term. Quite a few indie titles have since followed suit.
  • The Alien Shooter series does the PC version with humans, allowing them to spin at the waist like a helicopter if the player feels bored.
  • Less well known isometric PC shooter Gromada: Revenge justified this control scheme with the player controlling a tank.
  • Many PC shooters of The '90s such as Firefight used this control scheme.
  • There are quite a few browser games using this type of control in line with the overall Retraux tendencies of the scene.

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