Black Thunder Racing Wheel

Black Thunder Racing Wheel

By Ray Weigel - Posted May 29, 2002
Black Thunder Racing WheelInterAct's new Black Thunder programmable steering wheel is modeled after the steering column in Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s # 8 car. (You'll find his picture prominently displayed on the box.) This steering wheel works better with faster, more arcade-like games than with super delicate racers, but still makes for an overall solid driving experience. Watch "Fresh Gear" challenge the virtual track with the Black Thunder.

Button layout

The wheel plugs into the controller port and includes all the buttons and joysticks the Cube's regular controller does, with the addition of a 10-inch steering wheel. The A and B buttons are situated where your thumbs would rest on the steering wheel if you were holding it in the typical 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock positions. The X, Y, and Z buttons are laid across the center. There's also a directional pad within thumb's reach of your left hand. The buttons on the steering wheel are all relatively accessible on the fly, with the exception of the center X, Y, and Z buttons, which might give smaller-handed gamers some problems.

There's a little yellow analog stick on the base, as well as a steering sensitivity switch with low, medium, and high settings. The switch does make a difference in how it steers, and different settings do work better with different games so you'll have to experiment to see which is best. The only problem is you can't see the settings behind the steering wheel, making them difficult to access while playing games.

Fun features

The steering wheel has force feedback and that, too, works well. Suction cups on the base of the steering wheel keep it from coming off the table when you're playing, which is great, but making them easily removable would have made for a better, or at least more flexible wheel. Also, sometimes they stick to the surface a little too well, making it difficult to get the wheel off the table.

Two great additional features are the gear shifts beneath the wheel that you tap with the tips of your fingers as on a real racing car, and a separate analog gas and brake pedal unit that plugs into the back of the steering wheel.

All in all, this is a decent peripheral for GameCube owners. Although people with smaller hands might find it a bit awkward, the Black Thunder Racing Whell should shift your racing games on the GameCube into a higher gear.

Company: InterAct Accessories
Available: Now
Price: $39.99
Platform: Nintendo GameCube

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