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Thread: review: Jogcon vs. Negcon (updated)

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    Default review: Jogcon vs. Negcon (updated)

    I've had two brand new Negcons sitting around for a couple years now, and a Jogcon which I had only tried once, so I thought I would give them both a day in court.

    The Jogcon was made for Ridge Racer Type 4, and was packaged in the "big box" version. I played R4 for years with an RC-style digital controller, so I was curious to see how the Jogcon would compare.

    The Jogcon looks like a PSX digital controller but there is a wheel right in the middle. You steer the wheel with your thumbs and use the shoulder buttons for accelerate and brake.



    I was disappointed when I first held the Jogcon that the wheel rotates completely, kind of like the VCS Indy 500 controller. But when you set it up in R4 you can make it so that you can only turn it 45 degrees to the right and left. I know that sounds strange, but something in the software prevents you from completely rotating it. Neat.

    The thing has crazy force feedback, and actually moves on it's own like a real arcade racing wheel. Unfortunately, as cool as it is, ultimately it makes R4 harder rather than easier. You will be spinning this thing all over the place just to keep your car moving straight. I could scarcely complete the first two races in third place.

    After getting tired of the Jogcon I tried the Negcon. Why two of these things have been sitting in my closet brand new for two years is beyond me. Knowing what I know now, I would have busted one of these bad boys out the minute I got home. In fact, if I happened to find another one I would buy it, because two may not be enough.



    This controller actually came out before the Sony Dual Shock. Pretty surprising, since this thing is analog all the way. The controller is actually split into two parts, and you twist it in order to steer.

    And that's not the only strange thing. The X and square buttons (now labeled I and II) protrude about a third of an inch off the controller and are analog. The are "squishy", sort of like the shoulder buttons on a Gamecube controller, and like those buttons they recess into the controller when pressed down fully. It's pretty odd to find analog buttons on a PSX controller, but these make a lot more sense than the "analog" buttons on the PS2 controller that provide no feedback. The circle and triangle buttons are labeled A + B and are just regular buttons.

    I tried Wipeout XL first with the Negcon because I have heard the controller works really well with that game. "works really well" is putting it mildly...using a Negcon to play Wipeout XL is a revelation. If you are a fan of the game you need to find one of these controllers immediately. Here's why:

    -at the beginning of a race you get a boost if you accelerate roughly 3/4. When using a digital pad I would tap the X-button three times with variable results. With the Negcon you hold the I button down 3/4 of the way. You will never fail to get the boost.

    -the analog twisting motion is amazingly accurate. You can thread the needle between two craft, dodge mines, and scrape the surface of walls without hitting them.

    -when you come out of automatic pilot, you just twist the controller accordingly instead of automtacially crashing into a wall or running into a bunch of mines.

    -you can aim your weapons instead of hoping for the best.

    -no more air braking. Just let off the gas a little through the turns.

    Sound good? Playing Wipeout with this controller is like getting a new game. It's no longer flying by the seat of your pants, but it controls more like a good precision shooter. It's that much better. If they made a new version of Wipeout XL that was Dual Shock compatible, it still wouldn't touch this (in fact, for years I have used the d-pad for all Wipeout games, analog or not...now that will change).

    There were only two problems I encountered. One is entering a series of short turns...that is easier to do with a d-pad rather than rapidly twisting the Negcon (and the d-pad is there for that option). The other is the placement of the start button right below the d-pad. Since your left thumb naturally falls right on top of it, stay tuned for some involuntary pauses.

    I thought I would give R4 a try to make a direct comparison between the Jogcon and the Negcon. Just as I suspected, no contest. The experience of playing R4 was not as profound as Wipeout XL...there is a learning curve involved. Specifically, normally when playing Ridge Racer I would oversteer and powerslide going into a turn, and then tap the d-pad in the opposite direction to regain control. With the Negcon this isn't necessary...just let up halfway on the gas and steer through the turn. This takes some getting used to, but I ended up finishing the races later in the game more quickly than the earlier races. It was one of those "let me try this for 5 minutes" experiences that ends in 90 minutes with the credits rolling.

    Verdict:

    -the Jogcon is kind of cool, but not a very good controller. And as far as I know it only works with R4. (Chandler you can have it back now)

    -the Negcon is an absolute must have for every Playstation owner. With 3 hours of experience I can tell you it is better than any steering wheel I have ever laid hands on. Now excuse me while I replay every PSX racer I own as if it were a new game.

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    This review should be given some accolades. It is spot on, and if you have not had the chance to try either of these controllers, I highly recommend it. They are both unique,quirky, andfun in their own right.
    The jogcon can be especially hard to track down. Even tough on Ebay sometimes, but neither are particularily pricey. A great investment if you're a controller geek like me!
    "That is the most kiddiest thing I ever heard." -ROTS MKII January 2 2008

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    Oh, and I think the jogcon works for R5 on the PS2 as well.
    "That is the most kiddiest thing I ever heard." -ROTS MKII January 2 2008

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    Thanks for the review. I have had a negcon sitting around for years and now I think I will give it a try.

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    Pop that into a .txt ow word file via e-mail with a score for each and I'll put it up on the site:

    videogamer@bex.net

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    Excellent review. I never liked the JogCon, though in theory it sounds terrific. Is there a compatibility list for the negCon anywhere? It would be cool to play Tempest X with this controller, don't you think? Then again, not being able to spin all the way around could be a problem ...

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    Nice to see the Negcon getting some love. :) I totally agree that there's a bit of a learning curve with it with R4, but once you get the hang of it, it's pure bliss. I have to change the default settings when I play, though. I just can't use those analog buttons in R4 for some reason. It always ends up killing my thumb. I prefer to just use the standard blue buttons.

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    The NeGcon is one of the most satisfying obscure delights in gaming. I remember drooling over it in the early days of the PSX, but never realized it was released. I guess I lived in too rural of an area as I don't remember ever seeing one on a store shelf or in action until I picked one up in 2001. Still looking for the elusive black one for the PS2.

    Almost everyone who has given a NeGcon a chance agrees that it works much better than they ever thought it could. Strangely, the twisting action really feels like steering a wheel. It is also incredibly well constructed. What a way to celebrate the excellent of Ridge Racer.

    It is one of those nice things to break out in a room full of receptive, yet undereducated gamers. Everyone wants to give it a try.

    On the other hand, the JogCon seems a bit stranger, though I have never tried one. Makes me thing more of an R/C car than a real one. Need to pick one of those up.

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    I could not agree with you more concerning the NegCon. NegCon + Wipeout = gaming goodness.

    Chris

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    Another real nice racing controller is the Ultra-Racer from Interact.



    The Playstation version has those same cool analog buttons as the NegCon as well as an analog trigger underneath. It's very obviously modeled on an RC controller, so if you don't like that idea, it may not be for you, but the RC feel doesn't bother me at all and I actually like the Ultra-Racer more than the NegCon. It's incredibly comfortable to use once you get used to it and the feel of the little wheel is just great.

    There's also an N64 version of the Ultra-Racer, which is even better since the N64 wouldn't have any good steering wheel options otherwise, though that one unfortunately doesn't have the analog face buttons.

    I've never used a JogCon before. They sure look cool, it's too bad more games don't support them, it sounds like they'd be especially great for paddle style games, much better than trying to use a normal steering wheel or analog stick anyway.


    ...word is bondage...

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    I did some compatibility testing with the Negcon on my PSX games. My report is below using the following format:

    Game name/ does it work/ fully supported/improved control

    Does it work = does it work at all...if not you canít even start the game

    Fully supported = you can calibrate steering, gas, and brake

    Improved control = it controls better than digital or dual shock

    +++++++++++++++++++

    Tempest X yes/no/no

    Rollcage yes/yes/no

    Gran Turismo yes/yes/?

    GT 2 yes/yes/?

    N2O no

    Grand Tour Racing yes/no/yes

    Auto Destruct yes/no/yes

    007 Racing yes/yes/yes

    Dukes of Hazzard no

    Driver no

    Destruction Derby no

    Jet Moto 2 no

    Micro Machines no

    Nanotek Warrior no

    Need for Speed yes/yes/yes

    Off World Interceptor no

    Ridge Racer yes/yes/yes (drastically improved)

    Rage Racer yes/yes/yes

    Twisted Metal no

    Sled Storm no

    Wipeout yes/yes/yes

    Wipeout 3 yes/yes/yes (drastically improved)

    +++++++++++++++++++

    To summarize, it really works well with the Wipeout games and the Ridge Racer games, but thatís about it (at least for games you would actually want to play). Wipeout 3, my least favorite of the series BTW, is phenomenal with this controller. As for Gran TurismoÖI was never really satisfied with the analog control of those games, and I canít say for sure if the Negcon is an improvement. You can calibrate it, but itís hard to say if itís an improvement without playing for a few hours (and Iíve played the first two games long enough for this lifetime).

    Iíll try my PS2 games tomorrow.

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