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Product: SideWinder Plug & Play Game Pad
Company: Microsoft
Website: http://www.microsoft.com/hardware
Estimated Street Price: $19.99
Review By: Julien Jay

Introduction

A few years ago Microsoft released its first Game Pad simply named the Microsoft SideWinder Game pad. It was a real success in the gamersí world. After releasing the newer and more innovative Game Pad Pro last year, Microsoft has just unleashed the Microsoft SideWinder Plug & Play Game Pad. Wanting to take advantage of the novice gamer and with the possibilities of packaging with new systems - Microsoft succeeded in making this device one of better creations coming from Redmond. This is a ďbasicĒ USB game pad Ė and one of the cheapest on the market.

Features

  • USB interface allows easy set up and installation. In addition, no special software is needed to use the game pad.

  • Plug & Play Game Pad works with all common games types, including sports, action, shooter and fighting.

  • Four action buttons and two triggers are easy to use without having to look at the pad.

  • Microsoftís ergonomic design makes the Plug & Play Game Pad comfortable during extended game play.

The Microsoft SideWinder Plug & Play Game Pad comes in a very small box with a small userís guide without any drivers. After Iíve unpacked it, I simply plugged the SideWinder Plug & Play Game Pad to an USB port. Windows 98SE instantly detected it and installed the appropriate drivers that are on the Windows 98SE CD. After less than 2 minutes (the time for me to find the MS Windows 98SE CD) the game pad is definitely installed on the computer and ready to play! As itís a cheap Game Pad it doesnít come with the award winning SideWinder software controller, so users canít customize buttons.

Design & Settings

The SideWinder Plug & Play Game Pad has the same good design as the first Microsoft Game Pad (released a few years ago) except that itís has got a funny transparent shell that makes it look like a little bit gloomy. The buttons are black like for the Game Pad Pro. Hopefully the direction button is the same that the one of the Game Pad Pro: it features a slightly newer look, however, which wonít hurt fingers anymore when you desperately crush keys to win! The gripís feeling when you hold the game pad is really good except that your hands cannot rest on it after long play hours.

There are very few settings, as the Microsoft SideWinder Plug & Play Game Pad doesnít come with the SideWinder software. So you canít tweak anything on the game pad. The only thing you can do is to check that the buttons work correctly via the windows game controllers applet. The only way to tweak the game pad buttons is that the game in which you want to play allows you to define specific actions for each buttons (most of the current games support that).

Game Trials 

I tried this new Game Pad on a wide variety of games like Microsoft Motocross Madness, Jedi Knight, Tomb Raider IV and MS Football (Soccer) 2000. In Motocross Madness it works great and as good as if I was using the FreeStyle Pro (without the sensor). In Microsoft Football 2000 I won 3-0 against the Brazil soccerís team! It was very useful in maneuvering the players. In order to make this game pad work under Tomb Raider IV I had to assign to it the ID 1. Then the Game Pad worked correctly with this specific game. The moves under Tomb Raider IV with this Game Pad are a little imprecise because it happens that when you push the direction, pad depending on the force, you may switch to an other direction.  Finally in Jedi Knight controller worked correctly even if I lost! However the lack of buttons (only 6) will reduce the number of games in which you can use this game pad.

Final Comments

How It Grades
  Installation: 98%
Performance: 85%
Look: 90%
Feel: 93%
Price: 95%
Overall: 92%
 

This new Microsoft SideWinder Plug & Play Game Pad is very efficient and features an original, reliable design. Itís supported on most operating systems including Windows 98, 98SE, and Windows 2000. However it wonít replace the Microsoft SideWinder Game Pad Pro or the Microsoft SideWinder FreeStyle Pro which have many additional features that are definitely worth the buy for the avid gamer. For the price itís really a good deal for those of you who donít spend a lot of time playing computer games!

Specs & Package
Overall Score 92%
Version Reviewed SideWinder Plug & Play Game Pad
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 Game Pad
1 Manual
The Good Points Cheap
Installation a Breeze
Slightly Improved Look
The Bad Points Some Compatibility Issues
Similar To N/A
Reviewers PC Setup Pentium II 450
Windows 98 Second Edition
256 MB SD-Ram
Matrox G400 32MB AGP Graphics Card
DirectX 7a
SoundBlaster Live! Value
17" Sony Monitor
PC Required Windows 98 or later
Pentium 166 or Higher
USB Port
Windows 98-based games

 

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