Monday, September 20, 2010

TOMEE USB Controllers Keep Gaming Gangster

Posted By on Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 12:15 AM

If you're like me, you need a good USB game pad for your computer. Why would you be like me? I'll get to that in a second, but first, let's talk about the Tomee SNES USB  Controller for PC and Mac. I got mine from Stone Age Gamer, specializing in old video games and mutant game systems. The control set me back $16.99, plus shipping.

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[Side note: Stone Age Gamer are hilarious pop culture hounds. The packing tape on the box features "notices" warning that their products may "cause you to walk like an Egyptian" and that the package may travel in time if it "exceeds 88MPH."] The Tomee puts some fire in the race to perfectly emulate classic hardware. The basic shape, size, weight and color scheme of the original control are intact here. But extra credits go to Tomee for paying special attention to the directional pad and main action buttons. The classic SNES d-pad features a slightly textured plastic that's favorable to traditional rubber. The texture creates a certain amount of "grip" on the thumb without making excessive friction, reducing the "burning" feeling from playing games with lots of circular input (think Street Fighter). The Tomee features a similarly-textured plastic. Meanwhile, the main action buttons retain the original XY concave/AB convex shape pairing of the classic controller. In other words, you'll know what button your thumb is on just by feel. And the feel in the hands isn't just comfortable, it's nostalgic.

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In action, the Tomee fares well. The control is literally "plug-and-play," requiring only a USB port and around 15 seconds to install itself in Windows Vista. I put the control through some trials: the fast-paced R-Type III,  the precise Street Fighter II Turbo and the easy-going Final Fantasy II. The control responds well in each game, providing the same functions as the original. The only issue I find here is with the depth of all the buttons, which is probably not quite double that of the original control. In the menu-based FFII, deeper buttons were no big deal, but in R-Type and SFIIT, the adjustment in timing created some missed shots and failed super moves. This issue, I imagine, will improve with use. Now why the hell would you need a SNES control doppelganger to plug into your USB port? Well, to play classic (emulated) video game ROMs on your computer of course! Now when some people hear the word "emulated," they think it a synonym for "stolen." The Gentleman Gamer, as a lover of all of things media, enjoys supporting content providers through financial compensation. But he also has mixed feelings about what he deems "renegade media," that which is burned or copied and, in extreme cases, only consumable through less-than-capitalistic means. A perfect example comes in Seiken Densetsu 3, the Japan-only sequel to Secret of Mana for the SNES. For some reason, SD3 was not released domestically, though the popularity of the game's predecessor remains at an all time high (see page 2 of the article). Developer Squaresoft has no intention of porting the game to a current generation game system, nor does the rare (if affordable) original game feature the King's English. Which leaves me with my Tomee SNES USB control, my fan-translated ROM of SD3, and my moral relativism all ready to mix up some Manhattans and party down. I'll see you in Hell. Or jail.

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