Ah, the Sidewinder. With your easy to hold design, and hideously awkward to use Directional Pad, you formed many of my gaming memories from my childhood, if only because I got you for free with a copy of Rayman.

The Sidewinder was an awkward controller, mainly because of the fact that no games truly supported the controller, with my childhood self having to manually assign keys to buttons on the controller, and then going completely mad because the game had crashed, losing all my precious controller maps in the process. If you can imagine a 7 year old attempting to tell a computer to make the “A” button the jump button, you have half of my experiences with the controller, the other half being actually using the blasted thing to play games.

As a means of controlling a game, the Sidewinder was an unwieldy beast, with a stiff D-pad, which made controlling anything a chore, combined with buttons that were unresponsive at the worst of times, and triggers that were sensitive to the lightest touch, leading to many a death in side scrolling platformers such as Gex and Rayman.

Rayman was the most troublesome of the two, as the lax nature of the controller meant that the complex platforming in some of the more challenging stages became even more unforgiving, with the D-pad actually sticking at some points, leading to the character walking straight off the edge of a platform many a time, into the (hazardous) water below. If I had known how to curse at that age, I certainly would have done so, profusely.

But oddly, all these faults didn’t particularly deter my 7-year-old self from continuing to use the controller, until the fact that it didn’t plug in via USB got the better of it, when we upgraded to a more modern PC. The sidewinder wasn’t a particularly beautiful controller, or even good one, but it’s the controller that sticks in my mind as my first real experience of gaming that wasn’t on a mouse and keyboard, and I’m thankful for that.

Satan may be a Sidewinder, but, to use a rather tortured metaphor, I was lured away from him and towards my first console purchase of a PS1, complete with the Deity that was the DualShock. And I haven’t looked back since.


An advert for the Sidewinder, complete with 90's cool:

[embed:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-t83NGW7xM ]