When I first accepted the task of reviewing this new product, I must admit I was a bit skeptical. In the back of my head, I was thinking, ‘OK, this will be another fancy-looking joystick, with cool emblems and lots of little buttons I’ll never use.’
Then I was worrying there would be a tiny number of games out there that support the stick and about the pain of installing and updating drivers for it. All my fears were unfounded. The Titans Sphere is a solid piece of technology.
Curious as always to unwrap new packages, I eagerly cut the shipping package open to reveal a jet black box with the name Titans Sphere on the lid. I knew I was supposed to be receiving a joystick, but the picture on the box looked nothing like I expected. An eyebrow raised as I lifted the lid and slowly pulled out this new alien-like technology. Wow, this thing is tight, were the first words that came out of my mouth.
I immediately started fidgeting with the controls. Right away I noticed it had a nice comfortable grip, was designed to be a versatile controller for right and left-handed players, and the buttons were all right at my fingertips. Any skepticism or stereotypes I had of joysticks went out the door as I began to research my latest accessory.
As a reviewer, my first instinct was to find out more about this new piece of equipment. So I checked in at www.sgrl.com, a Website dedicated to the Titans Sphere joystick. It turns out that the Titans Sphere was developed by Second Generation Research Laboratories, a fairly new company out of Darbeton, Ohio. They design and market electronic products for industrial and computer peripherals. Founded by President and CEO Brandt Cooke, SGRL focuses mainly in the design and sale of 3D multi-way input control devices. In other words, they make devices specifically created to navigate in 3D dimensions.
I was feeling ‘Top Gunnish,’ so I fired up my F-15 Flight Simulator game and took the controls, piloting by way of the Titans Sphere. I crashed and burned on the first mission, OK maybe the first 2 or 3, but once I got used to the controls, in no time I was blasting enemy fighters and breaking the sound barrier. The Titans Sphere clearly gave me the advantage over the enemy, and I was very much satisfied with the controls.
The Titans Sphere isn’t just a flight stick, though that’s where its main strengths lie. It can also be used in 3D and virtual realm games, as well as first-person shooters like Quake II, Battlezone, Duke Nukem 3D and Unreal. Here again, the smoothness of the control gives players quite an advantage over a traditional stick.
The Titans Sphere has quite a price tag on it, selling at a whopping $129.99. After looking at the price, I thought to myself, ‘nice, the Titans Sphere costs so much I definitely want to know what special features come with it and even more importantly, how does it compare to the other high caliber controllers currently on the market.’ So I decided to do some shopping around.
I found that the hottest joystick on the market was the Sidewinder Force Feedback controller, a very nice piece of work being pushed by Microsoft. Also selling at a retail price of $129.99, I figured this controller would be the perfect comparison piece against the Titans Sphere.
The Sidewinder Force Feedback controller comes with quite a few impressive features including adjustable force feedback, 8 programmable buttons, a fast-action trigger, a throttle, and an 8-way hat switch. Clearly, this was going to be a tough match between two hot contenders.
The Sidewinder had two strikes against the Titans Sphere right from the start in that the Sidewinder had force feedback and 8 programmable buttons as opposed to the Titans Sphere’s 4 programmable buttons.
However, the Titans Sphere had quite a few aces up its sleeve as well. First of all, the Sphere is a baseless controller, giving the player the option of placing it in their lap, without the use of a hardback book, making gameplay more comfortable. It also has ergonomic controls, making it user friendly for right and left-handed players. [This was a personal plus for me being that I’m left-handed.] The Titan’s Sphere also has a precise throttle control and though there was no mention of a fast action trigger, as featured by the Sidewinder, the Titans Sphere also has a rapid pivot and navigation feature.
On top of all that it has six degrees of directional freedom, a programmable point of view hatswitch, simple calibration, and the most prized feature of them all – – no drivers required. This is a huge advantage for anyone facing the maddening task of keeping your joystick drivers current.
The Titans Sphere uses existing game or operating system drivers, therefore making it a plug and play controller.
And the ultimate test when playing with the Titans Sphere my scores were just plain higher. So after a grueling match-up with the Sidewinder, the Titans Sphere comes up on top.
So that’s the story on the Titans Sphere. The bottom line is the Sphere is a great new PC peripheral with a unique look and feel that comes loaded with plenty of cool features. Though the price tag seems high, after adding up all the facts, it’s well worth the money. I recommend the Titans Sphere to anyone looking for a top-of-line-controller that gives them a competitive advantage. You won’t be disappointed. Although they are hard to find in stores, The Titans Sphere was supposedly shipped during the 3rd quarter of 1998, so it should be on the shelves now. If you can’t find one then check out SGRL’s Website at www.sgrl.com, where you can order directly.
Until then, may the Sphere be with you.