I’m gonna be honest: I have a bad pack rat habit in my life. I often will buy things for the explicit purpose of blog material, no matter what it is. Games, plug and play devices, stuff like that. Controllers are no exception, I often tend to grab some oddball or promotional controllers, which was incredibly common in the 2000s during the PS2/Xbox/GameCube era.
I naturally saw this controller at a thrift store, and I couldn’t resist grabbing it. I guess you could say I pulled a Scorpion and grabbed it while saying “GET OVER HERE!” Okay, I didn’t actually do that, but humor me, will you?
This is a PlayStation 2 controller made by Nubytech to promote the then-new Mortal Kombat: Deception, the third installment of the more 3D era of Mortal Kombat, which took a few pages from its competitors like Virtua Fighter and added things like weapons for characters.
The 2000s-era Mortal Kombat games seem to be less fondly remembered than the original trilogy and the reboot era from Mortal Kombat 2011 onwards, which is a shame, because that’s when the series got really goofy. Loads of characters, the introduction of the Krypt for unlocking bonus goodies, even adding bonus games based of Puzzle Fighter and Mario Kart. I haven’t played them myself, but if there’s anything I can give Mortal Kombat credit for is having a glut of unlockable goodies.
Back to the controller, this is one of three variants made, at least according to the (now-defunct) website for these controllers. The one I have features Baraka, with Sub-Zero’s head – apparently during his “knockoff Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” phase – being stuck on one of Baraka’s spikes. The famous Mortal Kombat dragon logo is right next to Baraka, alongside a Midway logo, because of course.
How does this handle compared to a standard DualShock 2? Surprisingly better than you expect. The only major differences is a solid D-pad compared to the usual weird button layout of the original. The face buttons are a bit more raised, giving them a better, clicky feel to them. Even the shoulder buttons give a decent click to them, making them feel a lot less mushy than the normal PS2 controller.
To be honest, I’ve never liked Sony’s PlayStation controllers. They often had bad ergonomics making them difficult to hold onto for long periods. Combined with mushy buttons and too-high sticks, it just made playing some games on their systems annoying. Even the GameCube with its weird button placement just felt better because the controller grips were molded in a way that feels comfortable. In a sense, this third-party PS2 controller looks and feels better than the official product.
When I originally got this, it seemed to be covered in an unknown sticky substance, making it difficult to properly use, with buttons even causing to stick. I decided to try to get my vague controller repair skills into action, by unscrewing the device and rubbing the components down with rubbing alcohol, which got rid of most of the stickiness, but I still had problems where buttons stay down sometimes, like the L2 button.
During this cleaning, I’d clean the inside with alcohol as well since it seeped through there. This required me having to remove the screws to get inside, which were simple phillips head screws. I had the equipment needed to do that, but then tragedy struck. I had gotten into the habit of unscrewing all of the screws, then screwing every single screw back in to do testing. Since I was repeatedly doing this, one of the screws had stripped, thus making it impossible to remove. I was in a panic for a bit, because stripped screws are no joke.
Eventually with some outside help, I used a small drill to simply remove the screw itself, which might be unsightly, but it seems this controller was war-torn already, with parts of the gray plastic already being rubbed off in spots. I eventually learned to only screw back in the middle two in the back, just to keep it together to test it.
The controller seemed to work okay, with my occasional messing around in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, as that was still in my PS2 for some reason, and even in spite of the screw snafu, the thing worked like a charm. Probably better than it was from its previous owners.
Surprisingly, there’s three variants of this controller. The aforementioned gray one with Baraka, a blue one where Sub-Zero decapitates the head off Scorpion, and a gold one where Scorpion rips off Sub-Zero’s head. There’s a lot of Sub-Zero violence on these, I assume he was a critical plot point in Deception.
But these controllers also came out on the original Xbox. Same characters, with the same characters over a lenticular image. There’s also a slightly different button layout, where the black and white buttons were moved up, closer to the four face buttons, making it more like a six-button Genesis/Saturn controller. Which probably works a lot better for a game like Mortal Kombat, or any game that relies on the Black/White buttons to do the functions that the shoulder buttons would do on a PS2 game. I honestly wanna find one of these controllers now and see if they work just as well as these. Hopefully it won’t be sticky.
While the landscape for unique controllers is different now than it was in the past – gone are the days of getting ghetto MadCatz controllers that were inferior to the official product – I still find these custom controllers neat, even if I don’t play much in terms of PS2/Xbox stuff these days.
Speaking of custom controllers, I forgot I have this monstrosity bought a few years ago called the Gamester that I should give a try sometime. I bet it’s absolute garbage.
Message from me from 2020…
Hi! This was originally a video post made during a time where I was making Vlogs for the site. This experiment didn’t last very long, only a handful of videos were made throughout 2013 before I abandoned the idea. The original video is still available here, but with most of the same information I already posted here.
While I may not collect much in terms of controllers these days – while cleaning out my closet recently, I found out I had somehow amassed 11 NES controllers in my lifetime, more than I’ll ever need – I still find these kind of things fascinating, from regular controllers to monstrosities like the Silent Scope Light Rifle for the Xbox.
Tell me what you think about these controllers in the comments. Perhaps I’ll come back to this idea. I know that people love their YouTube stuff, but I think it’s more interesting as written content, as I don’t really have good on-screen presence.