Accessory Review: Capcom's PSP D-Pad cover

One of those games ruined at the launch of the PSP was Darkstalkers. Any of its flaws were due to the hardware, not in the programming. Obviously realizing something was wrong and fighting game fans were frustrated, Capcom has addressed the needs for a decent PSP d-pad. Sadly, it doesn't work.

This attempt at an ideal solution to a problem is more of a band-aid than major surgery. It's a unique idea. It requires no technical knowledge to affix this matte gray d-pad over the stock PSP one. Capcom does note that this voids the warranty (once its on, it needs to withstand some abuse so it sticks tightly), so use with caution. When attached, this circular piece sticks out quite a bit higher since it sits on top of the standard PSP pad. It doesn't look great, but you hardly notice the height difference when playing, and it fits fine in most storage cases with this tacked on.

Released in conjunction with Street Fighter Alpha 3, this should make all the dragon punches simple and accurate to pull off. Since it's brutally difficult to even jump diagonally, it's no surprise that special moves are no easier. That's not entirely true, but the success rate is somewhere in the range of 1 out of 5, a slight step up from the PSPs "you'll never pull that off on my watch" odds.

Worse yet, moves when facing left are even less accurate. In fact, it's arguably no better than using the stand alone pad the console comes with. Anything more advanced than a fireball quarter circle, which weren't really a problem in the first place, doesn't fare well.

It's not comfortable for extended use either. The four standard directions are raised off the surface sharply. Blisters are only a matter of time. Worse, the pad works the best when the thumb pushes on the outer edges, right in the line of fire on those pointy surfaces.

With all the problems, Capcom might as well be on late night cable trying to sell these for $19.95 while spouting off promises about how it should work. There are two reasons why this isn't being sold and only included with the purchase of Alpha 3 from their website: one is the legality of voiding the warranty and the other is a quality concern. This doesn't work, and while its not something that will ruin the experience, it fails to offer anything to enhance it.

(* out of *****)

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