Ever since there have been computer games, we have been looking for better and better ways of controlling the on-screen action. When I got my first Atari console I immediately took to the feel of the rubberized stick and placement of the single button. Eventually they broke and I went through many more sticks looking for the right mix of comfort, arcade feel, and cool looks. Companies tried more buttons, number pads with plastic overlays, and what I consider the embryonic stage of the game pad - the Intellivision gold disk.
After the mass extinction of the early 80's consoles, time went by and a company known for its arcade machines came out with the Nintendo Entertainment System and introduced the world to the first real game pad. The popularity of the console basically trained a new generation to be comfortable with this new format of control. Sure companies still tried to create replacements with new features like turbo fire and other goodies but all were now based on the left hand stick/pad right hand button design.
The PC user was also playing games and what shook out was the classic Gravis Game Pad. Four buttons and a pad was now a force that had its place allowing console players to easily adjust to the power and flexibility of the computer. In this arena, the pad did not absolutely take over, but rather shares the roost with flight sticks, steering wheels, and other ingenious designs that fit into varying methods of play. Here we'll review yet another take on the basic game pad design.
The Gravis Destroyer Tilt is a variation on the very comfy Destroyer with a gimmick. With the touch of a button this day to day game pad turns into a simulated steering wheel / flight yoke with the pad becoming a hat switch. The nifty looking box comes with just the controller and a small manual. What, no driver CD? Nope, it doesn't need one, its USB based and works both on the PC running Windows 98 or higher and USB equipped Macs running OS 8.1 or higher. The tough little bugger also comes with a long three-year warranty.
The pad is of the double-horned design now familiar to all and made popular by the Sony Playstation controller. It has an 8-way pad and four main buttons with two "trigger" buttons on the top edge. The center button when depressed turns on a light, changes the directional pad into an 8-way hat switch and activates Gravis' G-Force Tilt device letting you control the x and y axis' by tilting the pad horizontally and vertically. It's also got a nice 6-foot cable for those of us with their machine way under a desk.