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Dex Drive InterAct

REVIEW: Price: $40; system requirements: PC with Pentium 75 or higher, Windows 95/98 or NT 4.0, 8MB RAM, 2X CD-ROM, 2 MB hard disk space, Super VGA, COM/Serial Port

By ROBB GUIDO

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 5, 1999


Have you ever gotten so stuck on a game that you just stopped playing it? Don't you wish you had a code that gave you invincibility? You could spend hours reading game magazines or searching for answers onlines, or you could pick up InterAct's clever Dex Drive.

The Dex Drive is a small device that plugs into the COM/Serial port on your computer and lets you transfer game saves from your PlayStation memory card to your computer. InterAct also makes a Dex Drive for the Nintendo 64.

This little gizmo has some interesting possibilities.

The info from your memory card or cartridge, once on your PC, can be copied, deleted and backed up just in case. If you have a lot of filled memory cards, you can put all the saves on your hard drive and shuffle them around as you like.

But here's the best part: You can e-mail game saves, using the software provided, to another player with a Dex Drive, and he can load that saved game onto his memory card and use it.

If no other friends have a Dex Drive, that's okay. Game publishers like Electronic Arts have placed spots on their Web sites where players can download game saves, player rosters and cheats. Now that's thinking.

Grade: A-

V4 Force Feedback Racing Whee

Prices: $129.99 (V4) and $39.99 (fx

System requirements: Pentium 75, Windows 95/98, 16 MB RAM, 35 MB hard disk space, 2X CD-ROM, DirectX compatible video card, DirectX 5.0 compatible sound card and game port, one power outlet or two AA batteries. DirectX software can be downloaded from installation disks.

* * *

Raise your hand if you ever wished you owned one of those mini-race car arcade machines. Maybe not, but race fans can buy something pretty close, and for a lot less than 10-grand.

With the V4 Force Feedback Racing Wheel, PC owners with a taste for the road get a package that includes an 11-inch steering wheel that hooks onto your desk, nine programable buttons, two shifters and a couple of pedals.

But what's a race car if it doesn't shake, rattle and roll (okay, you won't be physically rolling)? But the force feedback system the V4 incorporates lets you feel the bumps and collisions via vibrations through the wheel.

Veer onto the grass and the ride will get shakier. Slam into a wall and the thing goes crazy. It all adds up to an experience that may even drag non-racing enthusiasts into the game.

If you are in the market for something cheaper but still interactive, the V4's kid brother, the fx, could fit the bill. It also has a number of programable buttons but is set up like a radio-controlled device. A small wheel on the side lets you turn left and right, while the throttle on the bottom lets you tinker with speed. It's not as intuitive as the V4, but it is better than your run-of-the mill digital controller and maintains the force feedback feature to a lesser degree.

The only warning about these products is that they're compatible only with Microsoft DirectInput games for Windows 95 and 98. Fortunately, you can see a list of these games on InterAct's Web site (www.interact-acc.com/interactpc/gaming/v4forcefeedback/).

Grades: A (V4) and B+

PC ProPad Performance

Price: $19.9

If you need a controller that simulates the great feel of console controllers, then Performance's little number will melt your fingers

This comfortable, well-designed pad has enough buttons for any game, and they're all in accessible places. The ProPad may remind some players of the Sega Genesis 6-Button controller and is ideal for 2D action games.

Unfortunately, many games are 3D, and the ProPad's lack of an analog stick makes maneuvering on three planes rather awkward.

Still, the pad is compatible with older games, and many of those are 2D, making this controller a worthy pickup.

Grade: B-

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