Shadow The Hedgehog Controller - PS2 - Review
A worthwhile purchase for any Sonic or Shadow the Hedgehog fan
A weird thing keeps happening with licenses in the game industry. Movie licenses have led to the creation of many bad games. The opposite, game licenses bought by Hollywood, has yet to have better luck. I can’t wait to see how the Silent Hill movie turns out, but I know I’m not the only one who’s skeptical.
Strangely, this licensing curse has not carried over to video game controllers. Over the past decade, several peripheral manufacturers have taken note of our excitement for games like Tekken and Gran Turismo and designed excellent controllers, joysticks and steering wheels for those specific titles. Mortal Kombat recently got a line of special controllers, as did Street Fighter, and even the NFL. These controllers aren’t always as good as the first-party brand (has any third-party controller ever been that good?), but they are often some of the best third-party controllers available.
Last year Sega released another offshoot of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, Shadow the Hedgehog, and now they’ve teamed up with NubyTech for the first Shadow-themed controller.
This unusual combination might come as a surprise to those expecting to see Sonic or Dr. Eggman (formerly Dr. Robtnik) adorned on a game pad. Nonetheless, Shadow makes for a cool character that lends itself well to good controller design. The use of dark color lines (red and black) and the artwork of Shadow standing out in the center is definitely something that would catch your eye as you’re walking down the game aisle at Best Buy.
But it won’t. The Shadow the Hedgehog comes packaged in a unique, semi-transparent dome case that’ll get your attention long before the contents do. Typically game controller packaging offers no protection. When I get a new controller I throw out the cheap plastic casing, and if it came in a cardboard box I store it until I realize that storing it is a waste. Shadow’s package, on the other hand, looks great, is a unique design, and is a great way to keep dust from filling out the crevices. It also makes it more of a collector’s item (and will be hung in my personal Museum of Historical Video Game Memorabilia).
Don’t Judge a Book By…
We’ve all heard that old saying. It’s true: a controller is only as good as how functional it is when playing games. Real games, not just the one it was specifically designed for. The Shadow the Hedgehog controller works great with pretty much any game in any genre. One of the first things I look at when testing a new controller is how it feels in your hands in all gameplay experiences. This controller is relatively small, but it doesn’t feel like it’s slipping around. The plastic is very smooth and comfortable. Both the sleek top finish and the slightly rougher underbody are well designed and make the controller easy to hold.
I was initially turned off by the placement of the R1 and L1 buttons – if you’re playing a game with pressure-sensitive functions (a feature few titles utilize), you’re not going to have fun deeply pressing those buttons for long periods of time. Everyone’s hands are different, but for me the buttons just aren’t in the right place and are too flat to feel good when being depressed.
The R2 and L2 buttons, however, are further below the other shoulder buttons and have been raised to match the trigger style Xbox 360 uses. This is a great improvement for third-party PS2 controllers. Controlling characters and racing vehicles in pressure-sensitive games is much easier with the extended buttons. You have more room to push and thus more room to judge how sensitively the button needs to be pressed.
Gamers will also be satisfied with the analog sticks, which are made of smooth-but-sturdy plastic and are equally resistant to each action. No sticks, no odd clicks, no slip-ups, absolutely none of the flaws that are common with third-party controllers. The plastic underneath the stick doesn’t flake as much as the Dual Shock 2, which should appeal to flake-conscious gamers. Seriously, I love Sony’s controllers, but the flakey plastic seems cheap in comparison to the rest of the Dual Shock 2’s design, which is top-notch.
It’s a small element, but I also liked the placement of the Start and Select buttons (they’re right underneath the face buttons and D-pad). They’re as flat as the controller’s body so you can’t accidentally bump them. I’ve never had that problem with first-party goods, but that is an issue I’ve ran into over the years with various third-party products.
I don’t really care for the look of the face buttons. They have weird, Shadow-inspired symbols that are supposed to represent the X, triangle, square and circle buttons. I’ve been playing games on the PlayStation console long enough to know where everything is without looking. However, for games where you must press a specific button at the exact point it appears on screen, this could be slightly confusing. It could also confuse newcomers who have not mastered the PlayStation brand alignment.
On the bright side the face buttons function as well as everything else and the result is a good controller that’s reliable, collectible, and just plain cool.
Review Scoring Details for Shadow The Hedgehog Controller
Great analog sticks
Shadow the Hedgehog theme
The D-pad is one big block; it’s not individually defined with four buttons
Face buttons work well but have semi-confusing symbols
A worthwhile purchase for any Sonic or Shadow the Hedgehog fan. You’ll love its design, its style, its reliability – this is definitely one of the best third-party controllers to come around. I don’t even have the Shadow the Hedgehog game and haven’t played it for more than a couple of minutes, but I still could appreciate everything this controller had to offer.