To my shock and surprise, I found myself wondering around the town centre of a place called Leigh on Saturday afternoon – for those who don’t know, Leigh is a small town that lies in the cursed
As a rule, I generally never spend more than £10 on anything to do with pr0n or the Dreamcast, so I passed up on said games – both retailing for £14.99 and exempt from the ‘buy one, get one free’ offer usually associated with retro stuff. Ten minutes or so later, I was looking around another second hand emporium (these and ‘pound shops’ tend to be the local trade of choice in Leigh) when I spotted something that all but the keenest gamer wouldn’t – stuffed on top of a cabinet was a collection of PlayStation steering wheels, rumble vests and light guns. It was like the armoury of some ancient warlike civilisation, but poking out from this melee of plastic chaos was a Dreamcast compatible controller connector (the bit on the end of the wire). After some careful rummaging and trying not to tip everything off the top of the cabinet, I surveyed my bounty – a V3 steering wheel, complete with pedals!!
After a quick wipe with a cloth soaked in St Elmo’s Fire, the years of accumulated scum and secreted resin were banished from the wheel and it now looks as good as new. But how does it feel to use?
This being only the second wheel I’ve ever owned (the first being that horrendous
contraption that Sega released for the Saturn – you know, with the freaking OBLONG wheel), I have only limited experience of playing racing games with such a peripheral. However, in the name of entertainment, truth, justice and peace on Earth, I have played through every racing title in the Junkyard’s Halo-esque library (although thankfully it contains neither the Flood or that fucking floating thing) and here present a run down of the most noteworthy experiences contained within:
It’s no secret that I hate this game, but the wheel adds something to the experience. It’s still hard as nails, but you can’t get much closer to the arcade than this. An attempt to do so would involve the stacking of 3 televisions and the slicing up of a real Ferrari. Neither is within the realms of reality for me. WithOut wheel – 3/10; With wheel - 5/10
F1 WGP / FI WGP 2
Both play pretty much the same – very well. With the in-car view it is very realistic but due to the slower reaction time when using the wheel, it is difficult to get through chicanes at speed. WO 8/10; W 9/10
This is the kind of game the wheel is designed for. It’s brilliant with a pad, but with a wheel it’s about 10 times better. Absolutely fantastic with the wheel – arcade perfect control.
WO 9/10; W 10/10
Even though the arcade machine of Crazy Taxi features a wheel, I've never played it so I wasn't sure if it was really the best peripheral for the job - the gameplay is perfect for a pad. All my fears were put to rest as soon as the game kicked off though - it's another title that is incredible with a steering wheel. I thought it'd be hard to pull of the Crazy Dash because of the way you have to stamp on the accelerator and gear change button, but it works fine.
WO 9/10; W 10/10
Yet another arcade conversion that plays really well with the wheel. The in-truck view feels so much mo
re convincing, but it seems a tad harder than with a pad because the
rigs are so slow to react to your turns.
WO 7/10; W 8/10
While MSR is still one of the gretest driving sims the world has ever seen, it just doesn't gain anything from being played with a wheel. The handling of the cars is too sluggish to warrant bothering to re-teach yourself all the little quirks involved. Do yourself a favour and play MSR with a pad - handbrake turns are virtually impossible to pull off with the V3.
WO 10/10; W 5/10
I wasn't holding o
ut for much success with Rush. Even though I really enjoy playing it, the steering model is a bit dodgy - it's one of those games where you have to 'tap' the analogue stick to turn. The Wheel actually works really well though. There's a pretty big 'dead zone,' meaning you can turn quite a way before the vehicles start to steer, but overall it does add to the driving experience. Commendable.
WO 7/10; W 8/10
Sega Rally 2
Hmmm. You'd think this would be perfect with the wheel, but it's pretty poor - you'll spend more time trying to keep the car straight than actually trying to compete in a race. Not Good.
WO 7/10; W 2/10
There are more racers in the 'Yard's collection, but I think you've probably got a good idea of how well it stands up after that little lot.
So what does all this tell us? Well, apart from giving me cramp in my legs from using the pedals, I must come to the conclusion that the V3 wheel is a really good peripheral. It is robust and easy to use and compliments most (but not all) driving games perfectly. There is one minor gripe with the V3 Wheel though, and that is that the VMU slot is extremely close to the groin area...so better give your VM's a good wipe if you happen to let a particularly fat, sweaty friend have a go with the wheel.
If you’ve still not had your fill of Dreamcast related over-zealous irreverence by now, please make yourself a cup of tea and unwind by checking out my review of Virtua Tennis 2/Tennis 2K2/Power Smash 2 (or whatever the fuck it’s called where you live) over at Defunct Games – the web’s premier retro games review source – by clicking here. Until next time amigos, ¡Adios!
The Dreamcast Junkyard – multi lingual.