Ducati Corse Controller
The Ultimate Bike Game Controller?
Torrance, California, February 2, 2001 -- Motorcycle games that are worth playing arrived on the PC only a couple of years ago with the first EA Sports Superbike game and Microsoft's Motocross Madness. But there has always been a missing ingredient when it came to interacting with the game: the controller. The use of conventional joysticks and game pads was very unsatisfactory, and hooking up one of the many steering wheel controllers on the market led to a truly bizarre experience of driving a bike. Most hardcore gamers stuck to the time-honored and seldom bettered use of the keyboard which was proficient in controlling the bike, but did nothing to improve the sensation of actually riding a bike. In an attempt to address this hole in the market, X-Technologies has brought out a Ducati Corse-branded handlebar controller that is intended to heighten the enjoyment of steering your favorite bike to yet another virtual world championship.
There has always been a missing ingredient when it came to interacting with the game: the controller.
The controller looks pretty cool with it's Ducati Corse logo prominently displayed in the central clockface. There are a load of programmable buttons on the main fascia that can be used to look over your shoulder, give other riders the finger or anything else the game developers have thought up. Both the clutch and brake levers are simply switches which is, quite frankly, a shame on something that's so close to being really good. The brake should at least have some sort of spring loading to emulate the pads clamping down on the front disc -- brake chatter optional. Calibration of the bars as they swing from side to side enables you to turn into corners but, unfortunately, it is no more effective than the Sidewinder Freestyle controller that Microsoft bundled with MotoCross Madness.
The spring-loaded throttle is undoubtedly the star of this package as it enables you to roll on the throttle rather than rely on some emulation supplied by the game. It is fairly sensitive and it's possible to control wheel spin through throttle position rather than tapping a controller button. The whole thing is attached to the desktop through three large suckers that grip to a smooth surface pretty well. Although, if you really start chucking the bike around Haga-san-style, they can start to slide or release. Connection is simple with either a regular gameport cable or a USB cable. A nostalgic afternoon rummaging through my games collection showed that the bars work with all the EASports Superbike games as well as MotoCross Madness, but GP500 from a couple of years ago just wouldn't detect the controller.
If this is the first generation of bike controllers that we can expect to see in the future, it's a decent start. The makers claim to support force-feedback, but it didn't work with any of the games we tried it with. If this is addressed so that we can feel what the front wheel is doing -- along with some more realistic clutch and brake action -- then we'd really have some serious hardware to write about.
Manufacturer: Xtecnologies Platform: PC (version available for Playstation) Price and Availability: Unknown