New Controllers for all [9/24/02]

As with the previous generations of consoles, the current generation are getting a lot of alternative controllers to the ones packed in the box. While third party controllers have been available since the launch of each of the consoles, it took some time to get new official controllers that were a little different (except for the GameCube, see below).

Playstation 2 - Much like the Playstation before, Sony has recently released a series of colored Dual Shock 2 controllers in Emerald Green, Slate Grey and Blue at a suggest retail cost of $24.99. Other than the colored casing, there is no real difference between these and the original black one that came with the console. Oddly enough, Sony made no effort to let anyone know they were releasing these. None of the major news sites knew about it and their website doesn't even have them listed. But, I'm sure you'll be able to find one to buy either online or in the store. The review score has not changed from the original review.

Xbox - If you've paid any attention to console gaming, you've probably heard the complaints about the pack-in controller for the Xbox. "It's too big!" "The D-Pad isn't that good." "The button placement isn't all that good." Well, Microsoft took the criticism in stride and made a new version of the controller for the Japanese launch of the console, but in turn, brought the new controller back to the states (with some minor redesign) and released it in May of 2002 under the name Controller S for an original suggested retail price of $39.95. A few months later, they dropped the price to a more competitive $29.95.

Controller S
Grade: A-
For those who thought the original controller was too big, this one is perfect. Also, the four main buttons (A, B, X and Y) are placed in a diamond pattern and are now circular buttons. Also, the D-pad is a more traditional layout and I would have to say it's the best D-pad I've used in a while. The Black and White buttons have been moved down below the main diamond and recessed, so some players may have a hard time with their placement. That and the placement of the Start and Back buttons are purely preference based as to whether they're better or not. For those who thought the original controller was just fine, you might actually find the controller a little small. Either way, Controller S is a good controller that's perfect to use for a number of genres, including fighters.

GameCube - When the GameCube launched, Nintendo already had a variety of colored controllers, including black, purple, orange and a two-tone of purple and clear. So, Nintendo really had no need to create newly designed controllers. Instead, they wanted to make an official remote controller, called the Wavebird, which was released in June at a suggested retail cost of $34.95. At the same time, Nintendo dropped the cost of their regular controllers to $24.95.

Grade: B+
Since Nintendo really didn't alter the layout of the buttons, there's not much different I can say about things that have been commented before. The bottom of the controller is larger so you can put the required 2 AA batteries that the controller needs to operate. Nintendo states that 2 batteries will net around 100 hours of gameplay, but I have yet to challenge this statement. With 16 channels frequencies, you can have up to four Wavebirds on one GameCube console. The only drawback with this may be that there's only one color, so you'll need to make sure you pick up the right controller when playing with friends. Also, there's no force-feedback, which might be an issue is certain games where it's a part of the gameplay. The controller is a little heavier, but not much more.

- - Kinderfeld

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