5th August 2011; By KnucklesSonic8
One of the new products Memorex had on display at E3 this year was a special Racing Wheel designed for the Nintendo 3DS. And now, that item is available in select stores across the nation for an MSRP of $10. A quick cash-in or a polished accessory? Memorex's Racing Wheel accessory falls somewhere in the middle, releasing to the market before it can even prove its worth.
The first thing you'll notice with the Racing Wheel is how similar in shape it is to the Wii Wheel -- you know, except for the fact that there's a big hole in the middle of it. The 3DS fits in rather snuggly in the locking mechanism, with the top part of the handheld being inserted first, followed by a downward press. A release button is located just on the back of the Wheel, pushing your fastened system out of the holder with ease. You just have to ensure there's some kind of support at the front to prevent your system from being a victim of gravity, whether that be physically pressing your hand against the unit or releasing it over a soft surface like a blanket.
Holding the controller for play feels somewhat comfortable. I tried playing a couple games with my 3DS fixed inside the accessory and I didn't have issues with the feel of the product. It doesn't feel bulky at all, especially if you're used to holding a Wii Wheel for games like Mario Kart Wii. There's almost no difference between the feel of the two accessories. The only exception is that Memorex's Racing Wheel features two grips along the side for comfort purposes. They're a bit rough but there's more comfort in resting your index fingers on here than on the glossy surface that makes up the rest of the Wheel.
There are two triggers on the back of the Wheel that feel off when pressed. It's definitely not the same feel as pressing the L or R Buttons on your 3DS directly, but since you can't do that while the unit is fastened in the device, you'll just have to make do. Also, it's a little slippery to hold your finger there for a few seconds which can make it less comfortable to take on quick drifting transitions in certain racing games.
I did pick up on two design flaws with the way the product has been designed. First off, because the holder blocks off access to the Volume Adjuster, you'll have to set the volume before you start playing. A more serious flaw, however, is the fact that you can't switch out games easily. Initially, it seems like you don't have to take the system out just to switch games because of an opening at the back. But when you try taking out a game cartirdige, there's not enough room to remove it fully. They should've had a little groove carved into part of the Wheel's inner ring just above this area to allow players to remove games from the cartridge without feeling awkward while doing so.
The box the Wheel comes in doesn't look that appealing. In fact, I'd argue it almost makes it look low-grade. Even if their packaging is in tune with the design used for their CD-Rs and other products, as a gaming accessory, it just doesn't have much shelf impact.
I find it very weird that Memorex released this accessory now instead of later. There are currently no racing games that make use of the gyroscopic controls as of yet. One of the first -- Face Racers: Photo Finish -- won't be out until next month, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was marked down at retailers by then.
Overall, it's not too bad for the price it's at, but there's like no use for this product right now. Once the Fall season rolls around, hopefully by then you can grab it for around $5. At that price, it's probably worth picking up. But like I said, there are some design flaws that should have been addressed prior to mass production.
Functionality 10/10 - Build 6/10 - Lifespan 3/5 - Value 2/5