Peripheral Vision: Interact Barracuda
If you’ve read a portion of my other Peripheral Vision posts you’ll know I have quite a few strange video game controllers. One of the strangest among the collection is my Interact Barracuda. Compared to all the other oddities I own this is an absolute unit. I’m a grown man with grown man hands I have to admit, even I find this thing to be a behemoth of a controller.
Apart from its size the Interact Barracuda is, to me, a bit of a mystery, in terms of how it works. You see, every button can be programmed however the user likes and the programming stays even after the controller is turned off. Well lucky for me to have bought one secondhand and not have the user manual to understand the darn thing. (Seriously, if anyone could scan the user manual for this thing or knows where a PDF could be found, please comment below. Thanks!) So imagine my surprise when I plug the controller in to test it for this article and find the game I was using going completely haywire every time I pressed a button. After I goofed into deprogramming a few buttons it worked pretty much as I feel a Playstation controller should, but still for the most part this controller just confuses me.
If the back of the box is to be believed this thing is supposed to mimic Sony’s Dual Analog controller. With the switch at the very top middle you have three mode settings. From what I’ve gathered Mode 1 seems to be Digital, but also allows the user to use the analog sticks. Mode 3 turns on a vibration feature and the only reason I know this is because one of the games I tested would display a vibration option in the start menu only when the switch was in Mode 3 position, so that must be DualShock mode. Finally, Mode 2 doesn’t do jack and the games always display an error message telling me the controller currently plugged in isn’t compatible — just like the Sony Dual Analog did.
The controller also offers a few features that I feel are completely useless, and those are the slow motion and turbo features. Slow motion in the PS1 era is more frustrating than it ever is useful and sadly the Barracuda’s turbo button is rapid fire for all or nothing. This means if you need to hold X as a throttle, and circle to fire you’ll have rapid fire on circle but stuttering acceleration on X, rendering is useless. Speaking of useless, the L and R buttons are on the bottom of this massive thing and aren’t very easy to press in whatsoever! Again, I don’t have tiny hands, but even I have a problem pressing in the L and R buttons comfortably. There is also a switch between the handles of the controller that are suppose to swap the functions of the analog sticks, I see no difference. Useless switch.
My conclusion about the Interact Barracuda is that I feel Interact let their heads wonder too high above reality. If they could have made some of these features more useful, and in some cases work at all, and cram them into a slightly more normal sized controller for the time it probably would have been useful. It’s size isn’t off putting, but it’s just not as comfortable as other Playstation controllers, and that puts it well behind many, many other controllers in terms of desire of use. The Analog sticks are concave like the Sony Dual Analog and that’s ok, but what isn’t ok is the fact the caps spin on the metal shafts and retaining grip isn’t always easy. Personally, I’m just not a fan of the Barracuda. I see where Interact was heading with it, but I think their desire to make an outlandish controller overshadowed the controller’s true potential. Plus I’m scared to admit this controller outsmarted me because I don’t have the manual to fully understand it. There, I said it.