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The Weirdest Controllers Used To Destroy Infamous Game Bosses

Video game boss fights are supposed to be the most challenging battles in the game, and the right (or wrong) controller can make all the difference. A good boss fight requires players to use all of the skills they've honed in the previous areas and execute them with precise timing, but this still isn't enough for some players. There are a handful of hardcore gamers out there who go out of their way to impose extra challenges on themselves that make defeating these bosses an even more demanding feat. Some have gone so far as to create custom controllers that add to the challenge.

A few of the more creative amongst these challenge-gamers have made these controllers out of some really weird, and decidedly non-ergonomic materials. Food, instruments, home appliances: These gamers have taken on some of the most challenging bosses in video games with just about anything they can hook a set of electrodes to. It's hard to say what's more impressive, the creativity of the controllers' designs, the ingenuity in making them work, or the skill required to successfully pilot them. Here are a few of the weirder controllers these gamers have used and some of the most infamous video game bosses they've defeated with them.

Hades with a pomegranate

Rudeism has largely built his YouTube channel around creating unique controllers that he uses to play popular games. The controllers he makes are usually thematically appropriate for the character he's controlling, like when he made a set of banana controllers to play as Winston the gorilla in "Overwatch."

He did something similar for Supergiant Games' "Hades," the indie roguelike that won multiple Game of the Year awards when it came out in 2020. The story follows the Ancient Greek God of Death's son, Zagreus, as he attempts to escape from the underworld and finally meet his mother, Persephone. In keeping with the theme of these iconic Greek figures, Rudeism decided to make a controller out of a pomegranate. He cut the fruit into 10 pieces, laid them out on a napkin, and then wired them to a circuit board. Once he did this, he was able to use each of the pieces of pomegranate as a separate button, manipulating the juicy seeds with his fingertips in order to control Zargious on screen.

"Hades" is already a challenging game. It takes most players dozens of runs before they even reach the titular antagonist, and even more before they're able to beat him. That's why it was so impressive that Rudim managed it using this squishy pomegranate controller.

Two Scarabs with a Guitar Hero controller

SuperLouis64 is another YouTuber who has garnered a considerable following for his unique controller designs. He's arguably best known for adapting the "Ring Fit" controller to play games like "Dark Souls 3" and "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild." He's more recently branched out into building custom props that he then turns into controllers, but the first video he posted on his channel followed him as he played through "Halo 3" on Legendary difficulty — using a "Guitar Hero" controller.

Louis explained that setting up the controller was actually fairly simple. All he had to do was use an input converter to change the game control settings and map them to the toy guitar. The strum toggle acted as forward and back commands, while the fret keys served as direction and action controls.

Of all the challenges in the game, the most impressive boss fight was probably the battle against the two massive Scarab automatons. He eventually managed to beat them, however, and went on to complete the entire game.

Elden Beast and GLaDOS with a Rock Band guitar

Beating "Halo 3" with a "Guitar Hero" controller is certainly quite a feat, but that wasn't the only time someone modded a guitar controller to beat a difficult game. There are actually two different creators who've used a "Rock Band" guitar to beat challenging games – and it's the same two creators that were just mentioned. Both Rudeism and SuperLouis64 managed to use these controllers to beat some pretty challenging games. For those who have played with one and not the other, "Rock Band" controllers have a slightly different form factor from the "Guitar Hero" ones, and some have argued that the former are more comparable to a real guitar.

Rudeism used this instrument to beat all of "Portal." Fans of the game know that most of the levels revolve around solving progressively more and more complex puzzles, some of which require precise timing and fine motor controls. The most challenging of these segments is at the very end of the game, when players have to defeat the artificial intelligence GLaDOS and escape from the underground facility. Rudeism managed to do both of these with a guitar.

Meanwhile, SuperLouis64 used his to take on an even more challenging game: "Elden Ring." He made sure to preface that he was starting a new game, so he wouldn't be working with an over-leveled character from the get-go. Even so, it "only" took him 13 hours to speedrun the game and defeat the Elden Beast, though he credits a lot of his victory in the final battle to luck.

Alduin with a microphone

Guitars aren't the only singer-songwriter instruments Rudeism uses to beat games, though: He also beat "Skyrim" using a microphone. This one is particularly interesting, since he didn't rig up any sort of fancy controller at all. Instead, he used speech recognition software to make it so the entire game could be controlled only using voice commands. This is pretty on-theme, appropriate considering The Voice, or Thu'um, is the main power that distinguishes the game's Dragonborn from ordinary adventurers.

In order to make the voice commands work well enough to control an RPG as complex as Skyrim, Rudesm had to program a laundry list of voice commands. He had to make sure that he could quickly control every feature in the game to keep up with the fast-paced combat mechanics. He mostly used relatively simple 1-2 word commands to keep things as compact as possible. "Move forward," "move back, "shout," and "attack" were just a few of his commands, along with modifiers like "move small left" or "heavy attack" to get more precise control over the Dovahkiin's actions.

He got pretty good at it over the course of his playthrough. By the time he made it to the final battle, Rudeism was so adept at rattling off these commands that he was almost as fast as someone using a more traditional controller.

Rennala of the Full Moon with a Bop It

Swoop Douglas is another YouTuber who challenged the bosses of "Elden Ring" with an unconventional controller. He actually managed to play the game using a children's toy — a Bop It Extreme 2, to be precise. He completely disassembled the toy and rigged up each of the components to issue different commands. However, in order to make it really work, he also had to write his own Bop It-compatible software.

The Bop It Extreme 2 has five different interface mechanisms, unlike the original Bop It (which only has three). That's definitely a step up, but it still makes for an extremely limited selection of buttons when compared to the average gaming controller. Swoop ended up having to turn the central Bop It button into a "Change Layer" command to give the other four mechanisms more mapped options. If that sounds hard to manage, it is. Even the YouTuber himself admitted that the controller "sucks."

Still, that didn't stop him from taking on one of the most challenging games to be released in recent years with nothing but a child's toy. As of this writing, he's managed to defeat several bosses, including Godrick the Grafted, Red Wolf of Redragon, and Rennala of the Full Moon. It doesn't seem that he's finished this particular playthrough just yet, but even managing to get that far with a Bop It is quite an achievement.

Malenia with a harp

Of all the instrument-based controllers used to fight video game bosses, perhaps the one that required the most technical skill was Anna Ellsworth's harp playthrough. Ellsworth is a professional harpist based in Washington D.C. whose YouTube channel first came to prominence when she began playing covers of songs from video games and anime. She later posted a video covering how she converted her harp into a video game controller. 

In order to do this, she plugged an audio interface into the instrument's pickup, which she then connected to her computer. Using various conversion and hot-key software solutions, she was able to customize her plucking into commands. Then (naturally) she decided to play "Elden Ring."

Not only did she manage to beat the entire game with her musical ability, she even went so far as to defeat the optional boss, Malenia, whom many consider to be the most challenging in the game. If that weren't enough, she also decided to do the entire playthrough without putting any armor on her character. That may have been a tactical choice, though. Going naked is actually a legitimate strategy in "Elden Ring," since it minimizes a character's carry weight and maximizes their stamina. Either way, it's clear that Ellsworth's mastery of the harp has proven to be quite deadly.

Malenia with a DDR pad

Twitch streamer MissMikkaa also used a strange controller setup to beat Malenia. In fact, her method might just be the most physically challenging one on this list. She actually decided to fight two different iterations of the Blade of Miquella on two different systems at the same time.

That's right: two copies of "Elden Ring," two screens, and two completely different battles against the Goddess of Rot at the same time. She used a regular PS5 controller to fight one of them using her hands, then used a "Dance Dance Revolution" game mat to control her second character in the other copy. Needless to say, it took quite a while before she was actually able to coordinate her movements enough to beat them both. MissMikkaa made an excited announcement on her Twitter page when she finally pulled it off.

MissMikkaa was so thrilled when she finally defeated both Malenias at the same time that she collapsed to the floor and held up her hand to show her viewers how much it was shaking. That probably wasn't all excitement, though. Dodging Malenia's rapid attacks on a game mat was likely quite a workout.

Abyss Watchers with a toaster

Another FromSoftware boss fight that fans might remember (if perhaps not-so fondly) is one-two punch of the Abyss Watchers from "Dark Souls 3." These inquisitor-like wraiths are collectively known as one of the first real walls that players face on their quest to challenge the Lord of Cinder. They don't have particularly large health pools, but they move quickly and their attack patterns can be difficult to predict. This fight can be difficult when using a controller that's designed to fit comfortably in the hands, but YouTuber TheRealSpidersGeorg_ decided to fight this trio of spectral swordsmen using a toaster.

He called the run "Toast Souls" and essentially transformed an appliance that's traditionally used for heating slices of bread into a tool for dishing out pain. He rigged the heat-control dials to control movement and modded the levers for lowering the toast baskets into attack mechanisms. Even with such an unconventional setup, TheRealSpidersGeorg_ seemed to easily dodge pretty much all of the enemy's attacks and slipped in to deal a retaliatory blow at nearly every opportunity. The YouTube video featuring the battle only lasted three minutes before the Abyss Watchers were toast.

Dancer of the Boreal Valley with ice cubes

All of these unorthodox controllers seem pretty challenging to wield, let alone build, but their creators usually at least give themselves plenty of time to master them. SuperLouis64 took things a bit further, though, making a controller for a "Dark Souls 3" run with a built-in time-limit. He wired an ice cube tray to an HID board and then used the ice itself as his controller for the run. Each of the ice cubes in the tray served as a different button. If that weren't enough, he did this on a day when it was 100 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning his controller wouldn't last long.

SuperLouis64 made one ice cube an attack button, one to dodge, one to heal, and one to lock-on. He then used a Wii Nunchuck controller to control movement. He'd initially designed it so that he could control directions with the ice-cubes as well, but found that his fingers grew painfully numb after only ten minutes of constant contact.

He didn't manage to beat all of "Dark Souls 3" before his controller melted. Still, he managed to get far enough to defeat the Dancer of the Boreal Valley, an infamous spinning monster that's usually encountered just over halfway through the campaign. Just imagine how far he might have gotten if he played in the wintertime.

Gwyn, Lord of Cinder with a frying pan

Of all of Rudeism's many strange home-made video game controllers, his playthrough of "Dark Souls" using a frying pan is certainly the best documented. There are no less than 36 different videos on his channel dedicated to these particular "Dark Souls" runs. He fought dozens of bosses across the trilogy with his trusty frying pan, culminating in his final battle against Gwyn, Lord of Cinder.

Rudeism accomplished this by drilling a bunch of holes into the frying pan and wiring several thumbsticks and buttons into it. One of the thumbsticks was attached to the handle while the rest of the interfaces were placed in the bottom of the pan. He also managed to give the frying pan controller motion controls, meaning he could actually swing the pan itself through the air to attack in the game.

Despite the inherent entertainment value, the frying pan controller was far from the most elegant design in the world. With that in mind, it seems unlikely that Cuisinart and Microsoft will be joining forces to create their own version any time soon.

Dark Souls 3 with a pizza

Making another appearance on this list, SuperLouis64 made yet another unusual controller for battling "Dark Souls" bosses, but this one is a little on the cheesy side: He played through all of "Dark Souls 3" using slices of pizza for the buttons. SuperLouis64 did this by wiring them up to an HID board like he did with the ice, and then tapping them to perform different commands in the game. 

He didn't stop there, though. To make the run a little more interesting, he also introduced a self-imposed rule that he had to eat a slice of his controller every time he needed to heal. That might not seem like much of a sacrifice to pizza-lovers, but keep in mind that this is a FromSoftware game. It would be a pretty impressive feat for most gamers to get past the first few bosses without a scratch, let alone some serious gastrointestinal regrets.

He seemed to make it out okay in the end, remarking that he was able to satisfy his hunger and conquer an infamously difficult game in one fell swoop. Sure, he wished he had brought some extra napkins, but at least he didn't have to worry about getting greasy fingers on his controller.

Genichiro with a steering wheel

As many gamers will have no doubt picked up by now, the people who make these strange controllers really seem to enjoy using them in FromSoftware games. It makes sense when you consider the fact that the studio's titles are renowned for their challenging gameplay, making them ideal candidates for proving the value of improvised hardware, not to mention the player's mastery. Many of the above examples stuck to "Dark Souls" and "Elden Ring," but YouTuber Cae5ium set his sights on the studio's eastern-inspired action RPG, "Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice."

He used a USB steering wheel and a set of foot pedals to play "Sekiro." These controllers, which are designed to work with racing games, were obviously not created with a game like this in mind, which calls for three-dimensional control and careful parrying to survive. It appears that the steering wheel was primarily responsible for the motion controls, while the pedals handled attacking and other interactions, such as healing. 

It's clear that getting the interface to translate to the precise motions in "Sekiro" was a challenge. Even so, Cae5ium managed to take down Genichiro, who is widely regarded as one of the most difficult bosses in the game.

Beating the Elite Four using a fish

Last but certainly not least, we have Mutekimaru, who showed players how "Pokémon Sapphire" could be beaten with a beta fish. This is probably the strangest and most intricate playthrough on the list, particularly because it's also the only one that didn't require a human player at all.

The idea behind this experiment is that a player could push any random assortment of buttons and — given a long enough amount of time — any "Pokémon" game will eventually be beaten. After all, the only consequence for loosing a battle is money, and Pokémon gain experience from every enemy they defeat. There's no cost to experience for losing, and there isn't a high threshold of dexterity required to win. Even random attacks in the opening areas of the game will eventually lead to incredibly powerful, max-level Pokémon.

To prove this, Mutekimaru designed a button map that they placed on the back of a fish tank. They then trained a laser to track the fish as it swam in front of the map. The laser would trigger the game to push whatever button the fish swam in front of on the map. It took a long time, but the random buttons activated by the fish swimming in its tank eventually traversed the entire Hoenn region, beat the Elite Four, and cleared the entire game.

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