While the handheld controller has long become the standard in the gaming industry and even been surpassed by innovative peripherals such as that employed by the Nintendo Wii, there was an earlier time when games were played differently.
Back in the eighties, the joystick was king, long before even the mouse had become a staple of home computers. In the days of the Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum there was one joystick that stood head and shoulders above the rest, with its pistol-grip, multi-buttoned design defining the way in which many games were played for a long period of time. That joystick was the Cheetah 125.
Produced by Cardiff-based Cheetah Marketing, the 125 was released in 1986, just a few years after Commodore and Sinclair launched their hugely successful home computers. While earlier joysticks featured a much more basic design, with a simple pole sticking out of a square box with only one ‘fire’ button, the Cheetah 125 was a revelation.
Cheetah’s controller looked like something taken straight out of the cockpit of a fighter plane, a timely design since ’86 was the same year that Top Gun came out. While flight simulators had by this time become popular the Cheetah 125 was not restricted to that kind of title and was perfect for any kind of fast-action game that required frenetic button-bashing.
It may seem strange to have such happy memories of a piece of tech which literally made our fingers bleed, but the Cheetah 125 is a landmark in home computing that reminds us of many happy hours playing Elite, Ace and Paperboy when we should have been doing our homework.