Friday, February 24, 2012

Pelican PL-6688 Playstation 2 Controller (PS2)

Rating: 4 out of 5
Pros: Familiar layout and feel, shoulder buttons are comfortable to access
Cons: L2 and R2 buttons take some getting used to

We had a couple of other generic controllers from MadCatz, and one day the end of one of them broke off while unplugging it from the Playstation 2. The wires inside the connector had broken and it was not easily fixable, so the next time I was at GameStop I picked up an inexpensive replacement. The new controller is the Pelican PL-6688 from Performance Designed Products. This inexpensive product is made in China and only set me back about $10. The Pelican controller has a matte black finish and features an intended oval design in the center with the Pelican logo in it.
It's generally the same as the original DualShock controller that came with the Playstation 2, with a few minor changes. First, and probably most noticeable, is the layout of the L1, L2, R1, and R2 shoulder buttons. Instead of residing on extruding humps like the DualShock, they are mounted nearly flush with the slightly curved top of the controller. I find them a little more comfortable to access, but the bottom L2 and R2 buttons need to be pressed closer to the middle of the controller to work correctly. On the DualShock, even hitting the outside edge of these buttons depresses them fully. It's not a deal breaker by any means, but it takes a little getting used to.
The dual analog sticks are also about 1/8" smaller in diameter than the sticks on the original DualShock. While it's easy to spot by looking at the controller, I noticed no difference during gameplay so this has been a non-issue for me. The location and spacing of the sticks is identical to the DualShock. The start and select buttons are similarly in the same location, but tilted slightly downward in the middle. The analog button is circular instead of rectangular, as is the red analog LED indicator light.
The final notable change is the directional pad. While the DualShock had spacing between the four directions, the Pelican controller features one solid piece with a cross on top of a circular design. I found this easier to work with diagonal directions, and the cardinal directions suffered no issues in the process, so I call this one a win as well. The remaining square, x, o and triangle buttons are in precisely the same location as the DualShock, though they seem to stick up a minuscule amount further. This did not detract from usability or responsiveness during gameplay, and in fact was pretty insignificant.
When playing with the controller, the handles that you grip on either side of the controller feel just the smallest bit thicker than on the DualShock. This makes the controller feel sturdy in the hand, but not so much that it's uncomfortable for smaller hands. It's a negligible difference, but one that's appreciated. The cord is just as thick and flexible as on the DualShock, and at 79" of length it comes up just 1" short of the DualShock. It's fully analog and retains the same general off-balanced motors in the handles for rumble/force feedback support.
We've had the Pelican controller for about 6 months now, and it's held up admirably. It's been tossed around, played with by my young nieces, tripped over and yanked out of the Playstation 2, and has never given me a problem. Despite being just as durable, the Pelican controller is actually a little lighter than the DualShock, coming it at 5.3 oz compared to the DualShock's 6.4 oz.
I've played a lot of games since I've started using this controller including Final Fantasy X, Pinball Hall of Fame, Ar Tonellico, Madden NFL 11 and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas among others. The controller has always been responsive and accurate, with the only small issue being the aforementioned R2 and L2 buttons that took some getting used to. Overall, it's been a very good controller and I'm considering picking up another one for a spare.

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