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Member since May 2011 · 2472 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: ALPS Interactive Gamepad
When the Playstation ruled the roost, Sony made use of two companies to make their pads.  Mitsumi, the same company who manufactured Nintendo's SNES pads, made them, and so did ALPS.  You may have never heard of ALPS, but they're a fairly large company.  They make Alpine audio gear, keyboards for Apple, touchpads for Sony's Vaio notebooks, etc.

Anyway, they made the controller for Sony, and for a very short time, they made their own pad too.  The ALPS Interactive Gamepad was their first and only pad.  It was designed to be smooth and ergonomic, and it felt amazing in the hands.  It was released in the standard blue, shown here, as well as a premium-priced limited-edition red version available only through Electronics Boutique stores (at least in Canada).  A smaller version was also released.

[Image: http://nfgcontrols.com/grafx/ALPS-pad-1.jpg]

Quote by Press Release:
"We designed the Alps Interactive Gamepad so players can concentrate on the game instead of the gamepad," said Ken Kajikawa, product manager for Alps Interactive. "Gamers can now enjoy longer, harder playing while playing with the best, instead of traditionally awkward and uncomfortable gamepads."

Read the rest of the press release.

The lower half of the handles were rubber for better grip.  Teardrop-shaped butons were smooth and close together for easy access.  The four shoulder buttons were similarly smooth.  Even the D-pad was super-smooth, with fantastic-feeling response.

[Image: http://nfgcontrols.com/grafx/ALPS-pad-2.jpg]
(they normally have a cord, this one was removed)

We brought some of these into my shop when it was first released, and based on our brief experiences with it, we hyped it up a lot.  We first realized something was wrong with the thing when a customer returned it complaining it didn't make his game any better.  "Even the best tools won't make you a winner if you're a natural loser" we told him (our customer service was legendary).  He agreed, we took his pad back, and he went home happy with a regular PS1 pad.

[Image: http://nfgcontrols.com/grafx/ALPS-pad-pad.jpg]

The whole controller just sucked.  The face buttons were too close together, the pad was incredibly inaccurate, and the shoulder buttons felt way better than they responded.  In fact, that pretty much summed up the whole pad: sexy, comfortable, useless.  It felt great but failed when it mattered: playing games.

Every part of this pad was created to be beautiful, but it was as if no one who actually enjoys games playtested it.  ALPS, quite sensibly, never tried again.
BLEARGH
This post was edited 2 times, last on 2013-11-02, 22:49 by NFG.
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Member since May 2011 · 2472 posts · Location: Brisbane
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It's interesting to note that Sony thought enough of ALPS' unfortunate creation that they modelled their prototype PS3 pad off it.  Luckily for every PS3 owner Sony came to their senses and released another Dual Shock instead...

[Image: http://nfgcontrols.com/grafx/Sony-PS3-proto.jpg]
BLEARGH
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User title: Pad junkie
Member since Sep 2008 · 7 posts
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Design-wise, it reminds me of the old MS Sidewinder Pro (a pad which Wikipedia reminds me was inferior to the original pads).

Oh, for the days when Microsoft could design good hardware...
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