For those who are particularly picky about to make the most out of their gaming experience, these are some of the most extreme (and offbeat) PC & mobile controllers tailor-made for this purpose.
April 2020 Ian Chiu
In foreseeable future, we might see ourselves spending more time playing blockbuster games on mobile devices through various cloud services. A dedicated game controller will undoubtedly become a necessity as its physical directional controls and buttons inherently provide far more accuracy than onscreen counterparts. To ease the transition, Razer has something in store for gamers who are ready to make the switch from console to mobile.
Razer’s new mobile gamepad – dubbed the Kishi – is designed to fit majority of Android smartphones in that its belt mechanism can stretch to accommodate different screen sizes. The Kishi also conveniently docks with a smartphone using the now-ubiquitous USB-C so you don’t have to worry about Bluetooth pairing and battery recharging as well as latency associated with a wireless connection. Moreover, there’s also a power passthrough to keep recharging your smartphone when Kishi occupies your phone’s USB-C port.
The gamepad itself inherits a typical console controller layout with a directional pad, a pair of clickable analog thumb sticks and four thoughtfully positioned buttons as well as triggers. Whether or not the Kishi will lend to an enjoyable experience remains to be seen as Razer hasn’t shipped the controller due to logistical complications surrounding coronavirus.
Tobii Eye Tracker 4C is the successor to the original EyeX, which tracks your eye movement and translates patterns and coordinate data to a mouse pointer. This is all done with some LEDs in front of the tracker that reflect infrared light off your retinas. In a way, you can treat this nifty sensor bar as a eye mouse. This is basically a supplemental PC gaming input that adds a new layer of immersion to your favorite games.
The 4C now puts even more emphasis on PC gaming as its killer application. First and foremost, there’s now a dedicated processor that handles the eye-tracking load to minimize penalty on game performance. The new sensor bar can now tracks at a great frequency. Last but not least, Tobii introduces head tracking. The new EyeChip CPU, however, isn’t yet designed to handle this new function so you might expect a certain degree of performance hit on your games. If you want simultaneous head and eye tracking capabilities (for this short list of games), the Tobii is the only way to go.
Mad Cat RAT Pro X has an ambitious goal in mind – to become the king of all gaming mice. It’s designed so that you can swap and adjust different parts to fit your playing style. Mad Catz includes 3 different palm rests, 2 thumb wings and 3 different pinkie rests but also manages to cram in X and Y adjustment for the thumb and the palm area. Whether you prefer palm, claw or fingertip grip, the RAT Pro X has you covered.
To say that the mouse is highly customizable and configurable is an understatement of epic proportions. Together with 3 scroll wheels, you can mix and match different swappable modules to create 2700 physical configurations. The RAT Pro X also lets you fine tune your color and lightning to personalize the mouse to your liking. As much as you can customize, this mouse is only for right hand use.
If you are like many hardcore gaming enthusiasts, there are times when two hands are just not enough. Obviously, the Quebec – la belle province – based Stinky has been there and decided to do something about it. Their new Stinky Footboard – yes that really did call it that – can literally give you a leg up over the competition by allowing you to use one of your – hopefully not stinky – feet.
While the Stinky may look like nothing more than a plastic and metal clad foot pedal, it is, in fact, a 4 button controller for your feet. The metal top is basically a connected to a four way pivot point with actuators in each corner. Depending on which way you depress the top, it will send one of four pre-configured commands as if you had pressed a button on a controller in your hand.
In an interesting twist, the Stinky Footboard not only comes with 6 replacement springs in a variety of resistance, but also the tension on each spring is adjustable. This combination of spring weight and spring tension customization should allow for everything from feather light touches to foot stomping enthusiasm be required to actuate one of the 4 buttons.
The only real issues we foresee with this device is that it will have a bit of a steep learning curve, and due to radically different physiology in our legs, don’t expect any of the four mapped buttons to be activated as quickly as it would be if you had used your hand.
If you are like many PC gamers, you probably have been tempted to buy a Wii or a Kinect so you can interact with your games in a whole new way. It seems Razer in partnership with Sixense has brought something like Wii controller to PC gaming market with the new Hydra. Much like those console-based 3D motion tracking controllers, the Hydra allows you to really interact with your games in a whole new way.
With that being said this is not some Wii clone as this bad boy is reported to be eons more precise thanks to its magnetic motion sensing technology so you wont be flailing around like a goofball (or at least that is how we felt when playing with our Wii… before we sold it). The Hydra is compatible with 125 titles including Portal 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Left 4 Dead 2, Bulletstorm and etc. This means it is no one hit wonder and should become even more prevalent as time goes by.
While its reported precision and robust list of compatible games are impressive, what’s really awesome is the fact Razer states it is going to be a lag free, ultra low latency device. This should hopefully translate into that “edge” all gamers are looking to get on their competition. The expected release date is May of this year and will be available in a standalone (which includes two controller and a base station) and a combo version which will ship with a limited edition Portal 2 (with extra content specifically for the Hydra).
There are PC gamers and then there are PC gamers that have driving wheels. Even those that might splurge on a gaming mouse, driving wheel and especially foot pedal controls take a lot more room and are a little like a Moped (cool but you don’t want your friends to catch you riding one). They take up a lot of room and commit your multifunction PC into a big toy.
Enter the Simraceway SRW-S1 Wheel. This controller redefines “all-in-one” with the multitude of embedded controls, 4-paddle shifters and accelerometer-based ‘air driving’ as opposed to fixed wheel systems. The SRW-S1 is only anchored by a single USB cable and can be used and put away faster than any other driving wheel system bar-none.
On the front of the wheel, you’ll find almost 20 function buttons and 2 station based dials and one infinitely variable dial. A row of LEDs are also functional within certain games. The rear of the wheel has 4-paddle shifter type levers to take the place of pedals for acceleration and braking.
As for software, The Simraceway SRW-S1 works fine without software but functions best when connected to their partner gaming system Simraceway. Simraceway takes full advantage of all the features of the SRW-S1 and is an online multiplayer racing system that hopes to be the racing version of an MMORPG.
Someone must be a fan of Fullmetal Alchemist’s Colonel Mustang, and probably is inspired by the way the state alchemist can take out his enemy by flicking fingers to create explosion and flames. He actually started a company called Peregrine some five years ago, and began engineering a nifty USB glove which basically allows him to give commands depending on how he contacts the 30 touch-sensitive buttons located all over the glove with his thumb. While this isn’t exactly flicking fingers, there are bound be some differences from conception to reality in product designs.
While Peregrine intends to heavily push the USB glove of the same name as the company to PC gamers, the glove can be just as useful in Photoshop or perhaps other professional software. The Peregrine, however, doesn’t offer gesture-based control so we guess you couldn’t really punch your enemy in a FPS game with this glove on. We do like the magnetic breakaway USB pod that attaches to the glove. This virtually eliminates the chance of ripping out the wire. This maybe not the perfect power glove, but the Peregrine maybe worth a try if you are a heavy RTS or WoW fan.
That’s all for now. If you happen to stumble upon any offbeat yet cool PC gaming controllers that aren’t listed here, you are more than welcome to tell us in the comments below.