Reviewed: October 13, 2002
Reviewed by: Mark Smith

Manufacturer
InterAct

Type: Steering Wheel and Pedals
System: GameCube

Rating: 3.5

MSRP: $29.95


The V-Thunder Racing Wheel is equipped with all of the great features of a high-end racing wheel, but packed into a compact design perfectly matched for the size and style of the Gamecube itself. This wheel features pressure sensitive analog gas and brake pedals, rubber grips and analog hand paddles to give you maximum control. Vibration feedback lets you experience every bump, smash and crash. The small diameter makes the wheel easy to store or take to a friends house and show off your mad driving skills.

Features:

  • Endorsed By Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  • Eight Digital Fire Buttons
  • Vibration Feedback
  • Eight Way Digital D-Pad
  • Pressure Sensitive Analog Gas And Brake Pedals
  • Suction Cups Mount Wheel To Any Flat Surface
  • Rubber Grips Prevent Hand Fatigue While Maximizing Control
  • 8.5 Diameter Wheel Can Be Easily Stored And Transported
  • Analog Hand Paddles Can Be Utilized For Controlled Braking And Accelerating
Now that you have read all of the PR hype let's talk about how this wheel really works. Sure, this wheel looks great and feels great in your hands, but once you start racing with it the controller shows its true colors.

The first thing I had trouble with was finding some games to test this wheel with. There simply aren't that many racing games available for the GameCube at this time, so unless you are playing Burnout, 4x4 Evo 2, or one of the very few other driving games, you probably won't even want to consider this or any other wheel.

I played each of the aforementioned titles for about an hour each, which was about all I could stand. Racing wheels are meant to bring you closer to the action, immerse you in the driving experience, and improve your driving. The V-Thunder does none of these and actually hinders your driving and will have you playing worse than if you simply stuck with a gamepad.

Well begin with the large dead zone that forces you to turn the wheel nearly 20 degrees in either direction before anything happens to the vehicle you are controlling on the screen. Then by the time something registers you have inadvertently over-steered and will either crash or bounce off a guardrail. Ultimately, you end up counter-steering the entire race weaving around like track totally out of control. Add to this a very noticeable lag time when your car actually does respond to the input from the wheel and you have a pretty worthless controller.

It really is a shame, because the V-Thunder is a very nice design and well manufactured with nice analog pedals, nice button configuration, and a good weight to the overall base. The pedal base is admittedly light and slips around the floor, even on carpet, so you will need to either brace the pedals or constantly keep dragging them back toward you after a few minutes of use.

Im really surprised Dale Earnhardt Jr. is endorsing this wheel, and I have to wonder if he ever even tried it. Ive used over 12 racing wheels for the PC and consoles in the past six years from all the major manufactures, and while this might not be the absolute worst, it ranks right down there in the bottom five.

If you have enough driving games in your GameCube library or even that one special racing game that makes a wheel a necessary purchase, you need to avoid this one and keep on looking. The V-Thunder feels great and looks even better, but in this case looks are definitely deceiving.