Monday, July 22, 2013

Why do I own this GBA racing wheel?

I have no memory of purchasing the Rally Racer Racing Wheel for GameBoyAdvance by Pelican Accessories, but I very much hope that I made the purchase at a yard sale for an extremely small sum of money. It is, without a doubt, the most pointless gaming accessory that I own, and not just because there are hardly any racing games worth playing on GBA.

The accessory is such that pressing buttons or turning the wheel will mechanically press the buttons on the GameBoyAdvance at the same time. It works, but the buttons need to be pressed a bit further than you'd expect in order to result in an actual button press. Also seen here is one of the now partially detached rubber grips that runs along the bottom of the wheel to keep it from sliding across the table when you try to use it.

The GBA pops in easily and locks in with the little notches intended for accessories like this. Pelican did something right by leaving the expansion port, headphone jack, and volume controls open and accessible.

The grip is comfortable for the most part, but in addition to the button responsiveness issues mentioned above, there's also an issue with pressing the L and R buttons. For L and R, you'll have your fingers resting on the actual buttons of the console as you would normally. This seems like a good thing at first, until you realize that turning the wheel does not turn the GBA, which means your fingers will be sliding back and forth over the L and R buttons, making them rather awkward to press while turning. 

Also, it may be due to age, but the wheel sticks a bit while turning. This means you'll have to turn the wheel harder and faster in order to get past the dead zone of it not pressing left or right. Herein lies the biggest reason why this product is unnecessary: the GBA's D-Pad is digital rather than analog, so there's no easing into a turn with the wheel. Either you're going left, straight, or right - there's no in between. This isn't a problem when playing normally because it's so easy to tap left and right on the D-Pad with your thumb, but with this racing wheel you need to turn it all the way to one side or the other to change directions. All it does is put you at a huge disadvantage while not giving any advantages in return.
So remember kids, if you're going to get a racing wheel accessory, don't get it for a console that only has digital directional input.
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