The time has come to take control
Fri, 13 January 2006
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It is probably a really bad idea for me to admit to this here, but I love emulators. I was trying to think up a subtle way of talking about it, but I was unable to do so. Therefore, I'll just come right out and say it: I play classic game ROMs on my PC all the time. I don't mean current titles; I'm talking about games from the 8 and 16 Bit eras.
Some of these games would be next to impossible to find available for purchase, or cost a small fortune through EBay, so emulation is by far the most convenient (and cheapest) option. The fact of the matter is though, unless you own an original copy of the game, downloading ROMs is illegal. So, if I suddenly don't show up at Buttonhole, you can probably assume that I'm sitting on death row after being found guilty of using emulators. Hopefully they'll at least allow me to bring my PSP and DS along, to play while I'm awaiting my execution.
As far as I am concerned, NES, Sega Master System, SNES, Genesis/Megadrive, PC Engine, Gameboy etc. ROMs just don't feel right when you play them using a keyboard. If you ask me, you need to use some sort of control pad to enjoy them properly. And that, my friends, is where USB adaptors come in handy.
These beauties allow you to connect PlayStation, Xbox, Gamecube, Dreamcast or SNES controllers to your PC. Then you can get stuck into the games with the kind of precision control they're supposed to have. There are a variety of types, all of which can be ordered from Buttonhole's friends at Realgamer.
Everything feels as it should when you play using one of these adaptors. There's no lag, or anything else about them, that detracts from the game. Once you've tried playing a few oldskool platform games, or shoot 'em ups with these things there'll be no turning back.
|Pretty exciting screen shot isn't it? |
Of course, you don't necessarily need to use them just for Emulators. There are quite a few PC games that are much better suited to being played with an Xbox or Dual Shock pad. Driving/racing games and sports games would be a couple of good examples.
Something I should mention is that it can also work in the opposite way: certain console games would work better if you could play them using a mouse and keyboard. I'm sure you can guess that I'm predominantly referring to First Person Shooters. Well, Realgamer has you covered there too- they have adaptors that allow you to connect a mouse/keyboard combo to your favourite console. Maybe Buttonhole can give one of those a test run too. I'll be sure to let you know if we do.
If you want a "console style" controller for your PC, you could of course just buy one that was designed & intended exactly as that. But the majority of those are pretty costly (in most cases twice as much, or more, than the USB adaptors) and, frankly, most of them are not as good as the console pads.
Incidentally (before I forget) the classic game articles that have been long requested of me (which shall be titled "Old Games That Sure Don't Suck"- purely because that makes me laugh), will be getting posted at Buttonhole soon (touch wood). In those articles I'll be sure to make some mention of which particular controller is most suitable for each particular game.
When it comes to choosing which adaptor to get, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, don't pick one you won't be able to use. Like, don't get an Xbox USB adaptor if you don't actually have an Xbox or any Xbox control pads. I realise that should be perfectly obvious and it really just stands to reason, but there are some incredibly stupid people out there, so you never know.
Next you should consider what kinds of games you'll most be using it for. All of them can be good for certain types, but you ought to take into account how suitable the design and layout of the controller is, when it comes to using it with your favourite genres.
So, let's take a look at some pros and cons for each of the control pads:
The PlayStation's Dual Shock controller is a very versatile and well designed unit; it can work exceptionally well for a vast array of game types. That is, unless you are a giant (like Special K), and the thing is too small for your gargantuan hands. The other sweet thing about the Dual Shock is that the layout of the face buttons is nearly identical to that of the SNES pads. So, if you get a PlayStation compatible USB adaptor, you should be happy enough using that for you Super Nintendo ROMs, rather than having to purchase a separate SNES one.
The Xbox pads aren't quite as comfy as the PlayStation's, but they're not too shabby either. They do have an edge when it comes to racing/driving games though. The analogue triggers work really well for accelerating and breaking in those kinds of games. When it comes to emulators, they work well enough, so if you don't have any other systems/pads to choose from, the Xbox ones will definitely suffice. And if you still have any of those Xbox pads that came with the system when it was first released (you know, those great big ones that everyone hung shit on) they actually do have something going for them! The button layout on those things works pretty darn well with most 2D fighting games.
The mighty SNES had/has one of the best controllers ever. Sony wisely ripped off the layout, after their planned SNES CD-Rom attachment fell through & more or less lead to them producing the PlayStation. Super Nintendo controllers are still a joy to hold- excellently designed and light as a feather. They're not as versatile as a Dual Shock though (which isn't at all surprising, given their age). So, unless you'll be solely playing SNES games, I'd recommend the Dual Shock adaptors as the better option.
The Dreamcast pad has plenty in common with the Xbox one- including those analogue triggers I was just speaking of. They also work really well for Megadrive games, possibly due to being manufactured by Sega.
As for the Gamecube control pads, mostly I wouldn't think you'd go with those much for anything on PC, as they only really come into their own with games that were designed specifically for their use. However, Nintendo Entertainment System games are definitely well suited to 'em (perhaps, in the same way the DC pads work for Megadrive titles, this is because Nintendo manufactured both). NES ROMs feel better to play with 'Cube pads than any of the others. The suckers are also very comfortable to hold, which is always a bonus.
So, hopefully that'll help you weigh it all up and decide. You probably want me to give you a definitive answer as to which controller is likely to get the most use, right? Well, okay then: the Dual Shock. There's no doubt that the PS2 (and/or PS1) pads are the best all-rounders of the bunch.
My personal favourite of the adaptors is the "TrioLinker", which is the one pictured to the right. Xbox, PlayStation and Dreamcast pads are all compatible with this lovely little device and it enables you to have all three hooked up at once (hence "trio"). That makes it pretty ideal for me. If you own all those systems (or if you don't but, for some inexplicable reason, you do have the controllers for 'em) this is definitely the one to go with.
|I mean, why download porn, when you can look at pics like these? |
Another of Buttonhole's hardcore gamers, Australian Ninja, has also been testing out one of the USB adaptors (Dual Shock) so he'll no doubt have something to say about it too.
Right now though, I suggest you head on over to www.realgamer.com.au (yep, I'm a master shill) and order one of these babies right away. The prices for them are good and (like I said earlier) after you've given them a go you'll wonder why you never got it sooner. Realgamer also stock import games and a bunch of other cool shit.
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