Gear: Dragon Quest VIII Slime Controller
We go hands on with Hori's quirky peripheral.
Article by James Cunningham (Email)
January 18th 2005, 09:47AM
There are many useless things in the world, objects that seemed like a great idea at the time but just don't work out as expected. Anything advertised on late night TV, middle management, the Army Men games, and now the Dragon Quest Slime controller.
Released in Japan to coincide with Dragon Quest VIII, the slime controller is an amazingly cute little guy. Just looking at him sitting on the cleverly designed base can bring a smile to almost any RPG fan's face, but unfortunately it's not a feeling that will last. Though Hori tried their best, there's just no way to make this thing comfortable to hold. The curve of the slime's body doesn't interfere that much with the thumbsticks, but 30 minutes of play in GTA: San Andreas showed that any game using all the buttons will get uncomfortable fairly quickly. It isn't just the way face buttons and the D-pad are positioned at a slightly awkward angle, or that the L2/R2 buttons are seem as if they're in the wrong spot, but the style in which the spike of the slime forces the player to constantly reconfigure their ring finger and pinky. I found myself constantly fiddling with my hands during play, looking for a perfect grip that apparently just doesn't exist.
On the plus side of things, the controller itself has a good heft to it, feeling nice and solid without being too weighty. The entire slime is made of a faintly rubbery plastic, which would provide a perfect grip if only there was a way to hold it properly. The thumbsticks are nice and snappy, and the same frictive coating is on top of the knobs for a slip-free gaming experience. The D-pad doesn't come off as well, though feeling strangely 'squishy'. Finally, the cable connecting the controller to PS2 could have used an extra foot in length, although it does unplug from the pad so the slime can be displayed better.
The thing to keep in mind about all the functional problems, however, is that this isn't really designed with serious gaming in mind. What the slime controller sets out to do, and succeeds at admirably, is to be as cute a novelty as possible. As a gaming device it's almost unusable, but as a cool curiosity to adorn anyone's gaming setup it wins the slimy blue ribbon.