Game Heaven PS1 Dreamcast Controller

Here's an interesting item. It's an unashamedly unofficial third party controller for the Dreamcast. Nothing unusual in that - there are plenty of third party Dreamcast peripherals, produced by a myriad different companies and they vary wildly in quality. Oddly, the best third party peripheral I've personally come across is the Treamcast DreamPhoto mouse I looked at a few months ago and that thing is about as unofficial as it's possible to get without calling your device the Mega Breamcast. But back to the present - here's the Game Heaven 'For DC.' That's actually what it says on the packaging, and as your eyes will no doubt be telling your brain as you look at the lovely images, it's a Dreamcast controller in the shape of a PlayStation pad.

Quite why this exists is something of a mystery, but I'm glad it does because without it, I wouldn't be writing this tripe for you lovely people to read.
According to the garishly-coloured cardboard inlay, the Game Heaven (I can't bring myself to refer to it as the 'For DC,' even though that's technically what I should be calling it, going by the box) was produced in that country where copyrights and trademarks are little more than rumours -  China. Due to this, I'm willing to bet that this was actually created for the Treamcast, but don't quote me on that - there's every possibility it was just made there to be exported so that fools like me could spend money on one. But am I a fool? Am I? I'd like to offer the notion that no, I am not a fool. Far from it. How so? Well, because the Game Heaven is actually a fantastic controller. No, wait - hear me out.


First though, lets look at the bad things. For starters, there's no analogue stick here. If the R&D team (ha!) at XG - the manufacturer - had really thought about what they were doing, they could have modelled the pad after the Dual Shock and brought the world a dual analogue Dreamcast pad. Instead, they just knocked off the moulds for the original PS1 controller, left out any mention of analogue control (including the triggers), ignored the VMU slot and just placed a PCB inside a translucent case and added a couple of turbo buttons. Oh, and put a red LED in for good measure. Indeed, as with some other official peripherals, you must plug a VMU into a device in slot B in order to save and load your data. No biggie, but if the Treamcast mouse could have a handy VMU slot on the end of the wire, why couldn't this? And those stupidly expensive Ascii pads have VMU ports too, for that matter. It's a minor gripe, but we like to be thorough (nerdy) here at the 'Yard.
Now on to the good stuff. The pad feels great in the hand, and as it's a verbatim reproduction of the PS1 pad's form factor, that's to be expected. The D-pad is also a winner and much better than that thing on the official Dreamcast controller. I'm not entirely sure if this is an 8-way controller, but it is certainly a lot easier to execute moves in a lot of the 2D fighters I tried the Game Heaven with (more on this in a moment). Generally, the whole thing feels very solid and the buttons do not rattle in their sockets like you'd expect; while the general finish of the plastic housing is of a pretty good standard. It's very shiny and polished, which makes the thing a complete handprint magnet, but lets be honest here - who the hell is going to come round to your house to inspect your Game Heaven pad with a magnifying glass? Apart from me, I mean? Exactly.

Oddly, the Game Heaven does feature two shoulder buttons (L1, L2 & R1, R2) and as mentioned previously they are strictly digital. I did play Sega Rally with the pad and even though they aren't analogue it doesn't really make much of a difference. The weird part is that L2 does the same as the B button and R2 does the same as X...which leads me to conclude that the Game Heaven was probably conceived for use with the multitude of 2D fighters on the Dreamcast. The turbo buttons (rather amusingly labelled TurBoY, TurBoX etc) also add weight to my hypothesis. The games I tried it with included KOF 2001, KOF '99, JoJo's, and Capcom Vs SNK...and it performed brilliantly with them all - the added diagonal sections of the D-pad do make a lot of difference when you're trying to unleash one of Terry Bogarde's special moves (he's the only character I can use in KOF because I'm shite, incidentally). I can imagine these extra degrees of control would make even more of a difference to somebody with something approaching 'skill' when it comes to 2D fighters, but even I could see the benefit. Yes, you could just use an arcade stick...but this is about the Game Heaven, m'kay.
The good aspects of this mutant creation clearly outweigh the bad, and all joking aside it is a really well-made and comfortable curio. Sure, there are adapters like the Total Control series around (which let you use a Sega Saturn pad too, in some cases) but as a piece of super-obscure and unusual Dreamcast paraphernalia, this is great. The question remains - did XG make a similar Saturn-shaped Dreamcast controller? If not, why not? I can't find much else online about this particular controller, so if anybody reading this knows...let us know!
Personally, I had never seen this thing before it popped up on eBay recently (I paid £2 for it, in case you're wondering) but as a relic of an era where third party pads were ten a penny, the pure silliness of it makes the Game Heaven priceless.

Update: I've just realised I made no mention of trying this thing out with Bleemcast. There are plenty of PS1 games that make use of both the shoulder buttons and the Dreamcast controller cannot replicate this with its singular triggers. Whether PS1 games/Bleemcast will recognise the extra triggers on the Game Heaven is an interesting thought, as some games (such as the brilliant Mobil 1 Rally Championship) are not playable without them. Further investigation coming soon...

7 comments:

Ronaldo Chambers said...

I bet the game heaven for DC is a better pad for 2d fighters than the official Dreamcast controller , somehow after giving 8way d pads to every single one of their gaming systems they failed to do it with the Dreamcast . surely if game heaven could make an 8way dpad Sega could have done the same with the Dreamcast

B# Major General said...

"That was Big Boss's dream - a Playstation controller for DC players. His ... Game Heaven."

Tom Charnock said...

Interesting point - I wonder how well this works with Bleemcast. Might have to update the article once I've tried it with a few PS1 games...

Rondaldo - I'm not sure it actually is 8-way, I think it's just that the added corner bits make diagonal inputs easier than on the standard DC controller.

Henry McHenry said...

Great article. Since there was the total control plus, I'm not surprised not may of these third party controllers were available.

Anthony817 said...

http://www.ebay.com/itm/161840176646

I just bought one here it is more than he paid for his but the seller was located here in the states so that is good. I should get it soon and test out emulators, fighters, shmups and most importantly Bleem games.

I bought it for $10 and $3 and some change for shipping.

Tom Charnock said...

Anthony - I did try it with Bleem and no, the second triggers don't work. This is a bit annoying but the pad is still cool.

Anthony817 said...

Ah ok. Yeah I figured they wouldn't since you said they acted like C and Z buttons on fight pads where it mimicked the B and X buttons.

Still I can;t wait to get mine in! It says the guy ships out on the Friday after the purchase so since I bought it on a Saturday I am SOL until the 13th... It is only the 4th now so about 1 and a half weeks darn it.