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Alive SE - EIL 2001
  "Stealth" Controller by Hot Products, Inc.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------                              for NUON-based machines

Type: Analog/Digital Controller
Release Date: December 2000


   * Licensed by VM Labs, Inc for use with all NUON enhanced products
     including DVD Players and Set Top Boxes
   * Includes a full-range analog stick
   * Raised digital D-Pad for better control
   * Ergonomically designed for optimum performance and comfort
   * Generous 10-foot cable
   * Includes users' manual and a full 90-day warranty

Disclaimer: This review is being written by someone who likes the N64's
controllers. If you hate N64 controllers you will probably hate this
controller too, and should therefore hold out for the ProElite controller
coming out Q1 2000.

The first third-party NUON controller has hit the market in the form of
the "Stealth" from Hot Products, Inc. Obviously borrowing it's look and
feel from the N64's style of gamepad (thanks, no doubt, to developers
using hacked N64 sticks during NUON development), this controller is
surprisingly solidly-built. HPI also developed the Extiva pack-in
controller (the "Warrior" digital pad), and this one feels much sturdier
and is much more responsive. The Warrior always felt a bit flimsy and the
directional pad too "clicky"(if you've used one you'll know what it means).
On the Stealth the D pad is much smoother and playable, rather than
feeling like you're hitting buttons on a keyboard or some other
non-gameplay-oriented control. For users used to an N64 controller it will
take a bit of getting used to not having the side handles on the
controller, but after a few laps around the tracks on Merlin Racing you
won't miss them at all.

The Analog stick is much better than anticipated. The stick itself is a
bit taller and the head is slightly bigger than you're average N64
analog stick, but the resistance is good and is designed for easy
directional movement thanks to the inside of the analog part of the base
being partitioned off rather than circular. While the analog is not
functional on Ballistic, it works wonders on the Tempest 3000 and FreeFall
demos (Tempest is much faster and more responsive), and Merlin Racing. The
analog stick even provides owners of the Toshiba SD2300 the ability to
interact with their built-in VLM, something that was previously thought to
only be available in the upcoming European NUON machines.

The controller also looks quite cool - rather than having the C button
cluster be yellow like on N64 pads, the ones on the black Stealth are
silver, as are the shoulder buttons (on the purple/blue Stealth they are
yellow though). There is a big, honkin' HPI logo on the top, which is kind
of obnoxious, though - One would have rather seen the NUON logo nice and
big up top with a smaller HPI logo down where the NUON logo is now.

Flipping the controller over reveals a slot where a memory card *should*
go, but there's a plastic piece screwed in there. The memory card support
is not available for this controller, but it may be added on future

One thing that is a bit strange is that the Z trigger button isn't mapped
as an independent fire button - it performs the same function as the A
button. While this may not seem like too big a deal, think about playing
FreeFall with the analog stick and not being able to reach the L shoulder
button since Z does the same thing as A. If anything, the Z should be
mapped to perform the same function as the L button since that's what it's
basically replacing when you use the analog stick.

Overall, you'll find the Stealth to be a much better controller than the
Warrior, both in design and durability. If there had been memory card
support and proper execution of the Z trigger it would be a must-buy, but
with the Pro Elite just around the corner it's hard to recommend buying
this one if you've already got a pack-in Warrior. For Toshiba owners this
would be the way to go to enjoy games before the Pro Elite comes (then you
can use it as a second controller), and Tempest freaks will want this
controller for optimum playability from the get-go. But otherwise it's
suggested holding out for the Pro Elite for the ultimate NUON controller.


Alive SE - EIL 2001