Monday, February 19, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 99



New hardware for Nintendo, PSX make 
gaming easier 

By Michael Ahlf
Daily Cougar Staff

Time to bring in reviews on something new, a definite luxury: computer hardware. For this column, the focus is strictly on gaming accessories -- the two best items out there for computer gamers looking for the high end. These are items that couldnit disappoint gamers no matter what, but be warned: they do cost a little more than standard items.

First up is the Hammerhead FX from Interact. This is a high-feature gamepad fairly reminiscent of the PlayStation dual shock line. It features a fully functional D-pad, two analog thumbsticks, and 10 buttons. Itis not quite a dual shock pad, however, because itis actually got more.

The Hammerheadis button configuration is a mix between the N64 and PlayStation style: it has two up-top buttons, two trigger-style (think the N64is Z-button), and six in the standard controller location.

If you have two AAA batteries, the Hammerheadis best feature is enabled. It has two-channel rumble feedback, which works with any force feedback game. The pad is a durable design, with heavier plastic and much better construction than most PC gamepads available.

While the drivers that come with the Hammerhead include a button re-mapping utility, I found that to be nearly useless. The pad is versatile enough with the options between digital and analog controls to handle anything from fighting/platform games to racing simulations to flight simulations. Grade: B+

Next is the AirStik 2000 from VRStandard. This is a standard flightstick with a new twist. It features a normal trigger button, two side-mounted fire buttons, centrally located top hat and throttle slider, and one more fire button right below the throttle.

On the right are another two buttons, corresponding to left and right rudder movement for flight simulation games. The stick has a six-foot-long USB connector, so it doesnit have to be placed anywhere near the main computer module. 

It also runs off of standard Microsoft drivers, making it the only stick Iive ever seen to be completely compatible with any game.

The form factor has one serious advantage over Microsoft and Gravisi latest offerings: itis designed to be ambidextrous. Lefties can pick this up without fear. The pad also has a very heavy base, so users can feel free to be fairly rough with it on the stand without fear that the stick will slide around.

The new touch VRStandard brought to the stick was something completely new: it can be used in midair. Instead of using the traditional stick sensors, they put sensors into the stick portion that sense the tilt of the stick with relation to gravity.

This lets players get right into the action of games. It also prevents a lot of strain normally associated with a flightstick: taking the stick off its base, I could hold it out like a gun, rest my arm on the desk, or find any other comfortable way to set it up so that game play wasnit tiring. 

The stick itself, in contrast to the base, is incredibly light. This is good: it takes about three hours for players to get tired from using it off the base. 

Thereis almost no way a player could be dissatisfied with the AirStik. Grade: A

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