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Joystiq Review: Pelican PS2 to PS3 controller adapter

Kyle Orland
Kyle Orland|May 11, 2007 11:28 AM
The whole point of backward compatibility for most PS3 owners is being able to get rid of that PS2 in the old entertainment center. Yet many PS3 owners have had to keep their PS2 units hooked up for a few reasons, namely:
  1. Support for our old memory card saves.
  2. Support for rumbling controllers.
  3. Support for the Guitar Hero controller.
The first problem is solved by an official Sony adapter which you can buy for $15, use once, and then throw away, we suppose. The second problem is solved by the recent firmware update 1.7, which added rumble support for old controllers hooked up via any number of USB to PlayStation controller adapters. Yet the third and most important problem remained -- if you want to play Guitar Hero, you need to keep a PS2 handy. Pelican's new controller adapter promises to fix this final problem, but the execution is less than perfect.
The major innovation Pelican's adapter has over others out there is an integrated PS button on the converter itself. This means users can bypass the annoying "hit the PS button," message on PS2 games by doing just that, no matter what kind of special controller might be inserted. The PS button functionality also allows users to assign the PS2 controller to any controller slot -- a must for multiplayer games. So far so good.

The unit advertises Guitar Hero support in big letters on the packaging, so we switched the unit over to its marked Guitar Hero 2 mode for a test. We were already prepared for a less than perfect experience -- as the unit's instructions explain, GH2's hammer ons/offs simply don't work with the adapter, a major blow for expert strummers. What's more, the on-screen colored gems don't light up when you push in the frets, removing an important visual cue for finger placement. The loss of these important features made playing on the PS3 significantly tougher than playing on the PS2. Still, the fact that we were playing Guitar Hero on the PS3 at all was something to get excited about.

Further testing on other games revealed a surprising omission: the Pelican adapter does not support force feedback. This is a bit shocking, considering numerous online reports confirm that older USB/PlayStation controller adapters support the rumble functionality just fine. While the Pelican adapter provided responsive, lag-free input from our old DualShocks, the lack of rumble made us wonder why we weren't just using a Sixaxis. Less surprisingly, special controllers for games like Taiko: Drum Master and BeatMania didn't work with the Pelican adapter, though all the DDR mats we tried worked perfectly.

While it's far from perfect, Pelican's PS2 to PS3 controller adapter remains, for now, the only way to play Guitar Hero on a PS3. When combined with another USB converter for rumble support and a memory card adapter for old saves, you just might be able to get rid of that PS2 for good. And really, isn't that the dream of every PS3 owner?