SEGA DREAMCAST REVIEW – Steering Wheel by Paul

The Basics

The Steering Wheel allows you to play any Dreamcast racer using a round doohickey called a steering wheel, but can not be compared with rokguide! Such newfangled gizmos these kids come up with! Design The base of the device is a little over a foot wide and maybe 8 – 10″ deep with four rubber blocks on the bottom of it to prevent slippage. The wheel itself is about 10″ in diameter, which is about normal for most home steering wheels. There are few good points about the design when it comes to this device though, and here are the major places where it falls short. No true foot pedals. I really think this is important. The purpose of the wheel is to offer a home experience more like the arcade or ideally, more like real life. Instead the acceleration and braking is controlled with hand controllers at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel (those with analog watches, go ask someone about that). The only real-life steering wheels that are controlled by hand are those for dudes with no legs… maybe Sega is trying to find a niche market.

No gearbox

Who is going to be the primary consumer of this accessory? My guess is people who love racing games. And from my experience, most of these people would have liked to have a gearbox instead of popping buttons on the wheel with their thumbs or palms. But then I suppose using a gearbox to shift would be basically impossible considering you would have to let go of the friggin hand-controlled accelerator. (add another strike to “No true foot pedals”, would ya?) As for the above two strikes, I should mention there is a port on the backside of the wheelbase that I assume is for a gearbox and pedal attachment. I have heard no such announcement from Sega as to whether or not such a product is planned, but it seems pretty stupid to me to have it separately. How much more would it have costed them to add these things in? Knowing what I know about manufacturing, I can tell you it would have been a couple of bucks at most – but Sega would rather drag another $20 out of you. Or maybe the gurus at Sega product development decided that the slogan “it’s an accessory for an accessory” was too good to pass up. No Puru Puru compatibility This confuses the crap out of me…especially when you consider the slot is there. That’s right… There is a slot for the VMS, but the slot design is such that the Puru Puru pack will not fit in there. OK, so maybe the slot isn’t ideal for the Puru Puru pack (as far as even vibration), but at least give people the option of trying it out. Stupid.

Bad Ergonomics, First of all, the wheel is tilted almost exactly 45 degrees away from you. I assume the idea behind this design was so that the wheel comfortably played by being place on the floor or on your lap. The thing is, it doesn’t feel right at all. When in this position, the wheel is perfectly straight as you look at it, but the feel is horrible. As you sit in this position, your arms are lowered and bent and it makes you feel totally awkward and uncomfortable. This bad angle combined with the hand controlled acceleration and braking leads to a position that is not only awkward but is also uncomfortable and even slightly painful when playing for any significant amount of time. If there is a bigger sign of bad design, please let me know. Performance (NOTE: Titles played – Sega Rally 2, Monaco Grand Prix Simulation 2, Shutoku Highway Battle

I have never used a steering wheel before that had so much play in it… not “play” as in fun… No no… By “play” I mean the amount of motion left and right that doesn’t generate a response.

You can seriously turn the wheel a good 10 – 15 degrees left or right and get no response at all out of it. None. It gets worse… There is some critical angle at which the steering wheel stiffens up as you turn it and… watch out. The response suddenly catches and will not doubt have you turning harder than you probably ever intended. Let me tell you, when you are racing and you want to make minor adjustments to your course, you will surely fall into the absolute nadir of frustration… Driving is all about accuracy and precision handling, and all the little things make a huge difference in how well you do in a driving game, but don’t tell that to Sega. Making small checks to the left and right are a total bitch, and when attempting to make these corrections, you end up driving like some 90 year old grandma snapping the damn wheel left and right just to get yourself straightened. When ripping through a track, the wheel feels totally useless as you scramble in vain to maintain control through this unresponsive and unpredictable feedback. Pitiful. The Final Word It’s obvious to me why this steering wheel is so awful… all the product testers for this thing had to be 90 year old grandmothers with no legs. “Hell, this is just like the hand-controlled Grand Marquis I traded in, sonny!” Until someone else comes out with a better steering wheel, keep your hands and thumbs on something that won’t leave you frustrated or in pain… no, not that… I was talking about the regular DC controller!