When it comes to Japan and role playing games, there are without a doubt only two front runners; Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Where Final Fantasy has been striving to become as life-like as possible, Dragon Quest has stuck firm to its sillier, more childlike, roots.
The recent release of Dragon Quest XI is no different. Not only is this the first true main game experience since Dragon Quest IX (which released in 2009), it also marks the return of the main series to the PlayStation format. Note that while numbered as a main entry, Dragon Quest X is an MMO and will not see a PS4 release until August 17, 2017 — some five years after its initial release on Nintendo systems, PC, and even smart devices via Docomo’s D-Game service.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Dragon Quest XI being released on the PlayStation 4 is a big deal; fittingly, Square Enix have taken this opportunity to work again with accessory maker HORI to carry the Dragon Quest charm out of the screen and — literally — back into the hands of players in the form of the PS4 Slime Controller.
The first time Square Enix and HORI partnered up to create such a novelty peripheral was with the release of Dragon Quest VIII (back in 2004) when they created the original Slime Controller for the PlayStation 2. This iteration apparently came in two versions, the standard blue slime and a sliver metal slime. That, I’m afraid is pretty much all I can tell you of the PlayStation 2 Slime Controller as I never used one myself.
With that out of the way, I have now had the opportunity to spend several hours using the newly released PlayStation 4 Slime Controller. It’s certainly not perfect and does have a few flaws which I’ll go over soon. However, my initial impression is that this is one of the most comfortable controllers I have ever used.
Most standard controllers, including the Xbox 360, and all the standard PlayStation ones used since the PlayStation 2, tend to cause physical pain in my hands after playing for while. This is particularly true of action games which require a lot of inputs constantly. My fingers just don’t wrap around controllers comfortably, and this ultimately causes pain in both my fingers (in particularly when the trigger buttons dig in due to their shape) and my wrists.
The Slime Controller on the other hand is round in shape and thus better accommodates my fingers. The edges of the trigger buttons are also rounded sufficiently that they do not dig into my fingers either. The left and right analogue sticks are slightly closer to each other (by only a few millimetres). The same is true of the action buttons. It’s a small difference, but with the rounded shape, it does help with overall ease of handling.
The Share and Option buttons have been rotated 90 degrees, slightly reduced in size, and positioned under the centre touch pad. These are slightly harder to use as a result. A turbo button is provided in between the two analogue sticks, and can be used to access a couple of different auto fire style modes, but I have yet to find a need for it. The Slime Controller lacks the usual lightbar; which has been replaced with a small LED. As a result, the controller cannot be used for anything that relies on the larger lightbar such as PlayStation VR games.
The controller is also exclusively a wireless one, relying on Bluetooth to connect with the PlayStation 4. So you will need to register it with your console as a Bluetooth device before it can be used. This is a bit of a shame as the Bluetooth signal appears to be weaker than that of the standard PS4 controllers. I have experienced regular instances where the first button press did not register, but so far this has not caused any adverse outcomes in the games I have been playing.
While I have found that the standard PS4 controllers can be charged via an outlet with a suitable adapter and USB cable, the Slime Controller refuses to charge when the same adapter and cables are used. It can only be charged when plugged directly into a PS4 or computer. The Slime Controller does charge fairly quickly, but on the flipside, doesn’t hold the charge for as long as the standard controller.
Given its teardrop slime shape with the buttons located on the bottom, the Slime Controller come with a special stand for it to be placed in when not in use. This stand has two deep grooves for the analogue sticks to fit into and as well as another groove in the middle. This middle groove allows you to view the LEDs so you can easily check the current charging state; an LED will be lit while charging.
The stand is simple plastic and hollow. This means it’s fairly light and can easily remain attached to the Slime Controller. So you may want to ensure a clear space when locating your controller in case the stand drops off as you are picking it up. Otherwise you may damage the stand or whatever it falls onto.
It’s only natural that a controller be capable of providing a good experience during use, but for most that is their only purpose. The Slime Controller on the other hand doubles up as a brilliant piece gaming related ornament. It simply oozes cool charm when not in use. And with its lovely smiling face, it’s always there to cheer you up.
Screenshots and photographs were taken by the author.
The PS4 Slime Controller was purchased from a retail store.