HANDS-ON: KidzPlay PlayStation 3 Wireless Adventure Game Pad – for kids!

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kidzplay-ps3-1.jpgWe’re used to seeing unusual gaming controllers ship alongside big game launches and commercial tie-ins, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen one put together solely aimed at kids. With the PlayStation 3 entering its twilight years, and Sony repositioning the currently-available console as a family-orientated machine, they’ve greenlit the Wireless Adventure Game Pad from KidzPlay, a controller aimed at children aged six and upwards.
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A more squat-yet-curvy shape than a regular Dual Shock 3, the Wireless Adventure Game Pad features all the standard PlayStation buttons and triggers, but placed in a way to better fit smaller hands. The D-Pad for instance is split into four separate directional buttons, while the Square, Circle, Cross and Triangle buttons are placed below rather than above the right analogue stick – a sensible option given many child-friendly gaming titles don’t require a second stick all that often. Buttons are more tightly arranged, and have a “clicky” input feedback that children will appreciate. Most unusually placed of all are the R2 and L2 buttons, which sit on the underside of the Game Pad, shaped as two ovals.
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Compatible with all PS3 games, it connects wirelessly to the console using a chunky dongle. At launch, both blue and pink versions will be available, should you buy into colour-coded gender demarcation.

Lightweight, kids shouldn’t have any problem picking up and getting to grips with the Game Pad and, if they decide to go crazy and toss the controller around the room, it hasn’t got the heft to do much damage.
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On the other hand, it felt a little flimsy as a result too, and I was worried over just how much of a beating the controller could take, considering it was going into the hands of children rarely precious over such items. The use of standard batteries rather than an internal rechargeable option was disappointing too, though I can appreciate how removing them is potentially a useful way of capping a child’s play time.

A particularly child-friendly feature is the anti-microbial additive the Game Pad is coated in, making sure grubby-handed kids don’t coat the buttons in harmful bacteria such as E.coli and MRSA.
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Is it comfortable to use? Already sporting unusually long fingers, even for an adult, I could tell the Game Pad wasn’t meant for me. Sure, I could probably navigate a level or two of Little Big Planet with it, but this clearly isn’t aimed at the hardcore adult gamer. Rather, it’s chunky size is aimed at children who don’t care about finesse, and rather enjoy bashing away at the buttons instead.

Priced at £29.99, the Wireless Adventure Game Pad will hit stores in October.

We’re looking to get a couple of the controllers into the hands of the Tech Digest family’s youngest gamers, and will report back once they’ve put them through their paces.

Gerald Lynch