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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Hardware: The React and Nerf Controllers

Some workmen blame their tools. Most programmers do, at least. Many gamers end up pointing at their hardware. Heck, some circles of PC gaming are practically based on the concept.

So when The Girl and I started to get back into Tiger Woods PGA 2005 we needed something to blame all that shanking on. When we visited her sister and used brand spanky new controllers ... we found our mark. Surely, it was the controllers.

Yesterday I got one Nerf controller (because The Girl likes to threaten violence on her hardware) and the React Tilt controllers (which proposes to bring SIXAXIS like control to the PS2). As I noted on the earlier post - I assumed one of these would turn out somewhat stupid. I wasn't sure which.

The Girl actually gave the Nerf controller pretty decent marks. She didn't like that the shoulder buttons were close together and completely identical - making it hard to guess which is the top and bottom on the fly. This is actually problematic in Tiger Woods as you need to flip between the usage quickly. Still, she got the hang of it and enjoyed being able to crush the controller in her hands. She didn't actually try throwing it - yet. It looks like it would survive the trip though. My only complaint is that the battery case has a tiny screw that might thread if you beat the controller enough. Should be easy to replace though.

Point to Nerf.

I tried driving using the React's tilt sensor. Originally I just held up the controller and then brought it back down on my knee. This worked a little - but not really. For one thing the tilt sensor seems to confuse the shoulder buttons, which as noted are somewhat important during the game. Plus there didn't seem to be any consistent method to swinging the controller that would appease the swing. In the end, the analog stick was much easier and more precise.

No point to React. The documentation and box state that the tilt is best suiting for flying and driving games. I don't really have any flying games, so I'll try it on Need For Speed sometime and report back. The good news is that it's no more expensive than your average wireless controller and sans tilt function, it's a decent gamepad. So not really wasted money.

But still the loser in terms of money spent. I think the tilt function's best use would be as a practical joke on your drunk gaming friends. I'm still happily using it, just with the function turned off.

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