|Lets face it; most of the third party controllers on the market are pretty crappy. Cheap construction, gimmicky extras you dont need, and poor overall performance and feel when compared to the controllers that Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft make. Then there is the myth among gamers that third party accessories can actually cause your system to break down. Third party controllers are usually cheap, though, and that is why so many gamers pick one up even when they know it isnt going to be as good as a first party pad. Pelican Accessories is looking to change all of that with the Chameleon controller for PS2, and after using it for a while I can safely say that this is one third party pad that isnt going to disappoint.
The Chameleon controller looks a lot like a Dual Shock, but it is a little bit smaller. The start and select buttons have been moved up and are actually easier to use because of their new placement and the smaller size of the controller make them easier to reach. Another difference between the Chameleon and every other PS2 controller on the market is that the L2 and R2 buttons have been moved from the top of the controller to the back. In their new positions they lie right where your fingers land when you wrap your hands around the controller. In this placement, they are easier and faster to use and the controller is more comfortable to hold than the Dual Shock.
The only bad things about the Chameleon lie in the face buttons and how they feel. The D-pad is just one solid, flat chunk of plastic that doesnt seem quite as responsive or accurate as a Dual Shock. The X, O, Square and Triangle buttons stick out a good quarter-inch above the surface of the controller. This is sort of annoying, but the buttons are very responsive and do a great job in games like Gran Turismo 3 where precision is key.
So how does the Chameleon perform when compared to the Dual Shock? Very well, Im happy to say. The smaller size of the Chameleon moves the control sticks over just a little so they lie right under where your thumbs naturally fall, which adds a lot of comfort. It takes a few minutes to get used to the new positions of the L2 and R2 buttons, but this placement really is optimal and it makes the Chameleon very comfortable to hold. My scores in Frequency and Amplitude increased because of this button layout, so that is saying a lot right there.
You might want to give the Chameleon a test drive before you buy one, though, just to make sure the smaller size is comfortable and you dont mind the placement of the L2 and R2 buttons. Because of the packaging Pelican is starting to use, getting a feel for a new controller is easy. The cord and instructions are covered up and attached to the controller via a bit of plastic around the middle. The rest of the controller, I.E. the parts you actually hold on to, are out in the open where you can grab the controller and know exactly what it is going to feel like when you take it home and plug it in. I love this idea, but I wouldnt recommend buying the controller at the front of the rack. Itll be all covered in baby drool and grease and stuff, so do yourself a favor and pick up the third or fourth one in line.
The look of the Chameleon is really pretty slick. The controller is clear so you can see the boards inside and you can even see the motors spinning around when the controller vibrates. In a cool twist, rather than having different colored outside plastic the boards on the inside of the controller come in various colors. This gives the Chameleon a different sort of look that really sets it apart.
Im not sure whether using a third party controller has actually ever fried anyones system, but Pelican has addressed this myth head on. On the very first page of the instruction booklet Pelican gives you a Console Protection Guarantee stating that if their product is responsible for your system breaking down, they will replace it or have it repaired for you. A guarantee like that, even though it is probably completely unnecessary, really makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
To be honest, the Chameleon has actually managed to replace the Dual Shock as my controller of choice for the PS2. I like the smaller size, the slightly altered placement of the control sticks, and the new positions of the L2 and R2 buttons. It is very comfortable to hold and does a very good job no matter what type of game you play with it. If it would have had a better D-pad and face buttons that felt more like those on the Dual Shock, I would have given it a perfect 5.
If you need a new controller for your PS2, you cant do much better than the Chameleon. It is available for less than $15 and performs just as well as the more expensive Dual Shock. The Chameleon has a cool look and does an excellent job at a great price. Give one a test drive at a gaming store near you.