Huh! A new Joystick! Big, fat, hairy deal, you might say. But check your indifference - this one does something that no other joystick has done before, something which actually makes your Spectrum 128K +2 or +3 a better games machine.
The Cheetah 125 Special looks - at first glance - very much like the familiar standard stick. It has a pistol-grip, a large base with four suction cups, a trigger, a thumb button, and left and right Fire buttons on the base. Look a bit more closely, though, at the switches on the base, and you'll begin to suspect that the 125 Special is something... special.
Apart from moving the centre-return joystick in the usual eight directions, you can twist is clockwise and anticlockwise. This gives an extra dimension of control to, say, Rambo-type games. Your hero could turn from side to side as he moves.
It also has trailing leads with nine-pin D-plugs. The first is for normal operation, and plugs into your joystick port as usual. The second lead is for use with customised games software which is currently being developed to make use of the Special's unique abilities.
Furthermore, each of the four fire buttons - trigger, thumb, and the two on the base - can control a different function. No more searching about on the keyboard for the right key to detonate your smart bombs, lay mines, pick up objects, or whatever.
The special features can be switched on or off with a slider on the base.
It's unfortunate in my view that the 125 Special's switches are all of the leaf contact type. While these can work better than microswitches for some games, they're not as precise hard-wearing.
While the 125 Special works perfectly well as an ordinary stick - and remember, it can be used with all existing software - it will stand or fall according to how many software houses decide to write games including the special features. Cheetah claims that all the major companies have seen and been impressed by the stick, and the extra code needed to exploit its features is negligible. However, until a major company comes out wit a 125 Special compatible title, we don't really know whether this is an exciting innovation or a white elephant. (Yes we will - elephants are big - Ed.)