Normally I don’t write reviews about controllers. In fact, the last review I did for a controller was for the Gravis Xterminator back in 1998. However, when I was at E3, I had a meeting with a Los Angeles based company called Nyko. During the session, I was introduced to a little Dreamcast controller entitled the Dream Master.
At first, it looked to me like your ordinary Dreamcast controller, and I didn’t really think that it would amount to much. Imagine my shock when I returned to my hotel room that same night, attached the Dream Master to my Sega Dreamcast, turned the power on, and got some practice for my Soul Calibur tournament the next day (which, go figure, I lost in the first round).
Nonetheless, I was instantly hooked with the Dream Master. The following nights I was able to test it with some more titles. At first, I decided I’d give the 3-D analog control a test run so I inserted NFL 2K. Talk about some of the smoothest player control I had ever laid my hands upon. The analog pad is slightly smaller compared to Sega’s pad, but I found it to be very responsive.
Next, I wanted to give the D-pad a test, and what better way to try it out than with Capcom’s Street Fighter and Vs. series. First, I gave it a test run using Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Street Fighter 3: Double Impact. Initially I had some trouble getting the special moves to work. But later on, with testing these titles out on my stock Sega pad, it turns out the moves were a pain to do there as well. Apparently this must be a control problem with the games, and not necessarily that of the Dream Master.
Continuing with my 2D fighter tests, I finished up with Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. Considering this was a game that has a control scheme specially designed for the Dreamcast, I had absolutely no trouble inputting the special commands into the Dream Master, and everything worked out fine. More D-Pad tests were conducted with titles such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Dead or Alive 2, both of which controlled well with the controller responsive to the slightest touch.
The Dream Master adds two buttons to the original four. Labeled C and Z, these buttons currently are used as an alternate to the L and R buttons on the top of the controller. I wanted to use them for SF3, but the only problem is that C and Z are placed lower than the other buttons. If only they were lined up, this would make button combos for SF3 and Alpha 3 much easier to execute.
These buttons are also listed on the packaging as being intended for future use. I’m curious to see how this will turn out, as none of the titles I used applied these future uses (except for L/R emulation).
Lastly, the Dream Master comes with the usual controller features, such as turbo fire and slow motion, both of which worked well, considering that I’m a person who doesn’t usually use these features on a normal basis. In all, the Dream Master is a very impressive piece of hardware. Considering the fact that I don’t usually go for third party hardware, something inside told me to give Nyko and their products a chance, and I’m glad I did.
The only thing preventing the Dream Master from being the perfect alternative control to Sega’s is the placement of the C and Z buttons, but otherwise, it gets a decent 4 1/2 Gem rating. Not bad coming from a reviewer who has stubbornly stuck to first party materials for so long.