Thrustmaster HOTAS Cougar: The Luxury Joystick!

Mechanics Made To Last

So the HOTAS has a total of 16 buttons, four directional hats and seven analog axes, including a microstick that is built into the throttle. The throttle itself is comparable to those you’d find on gamepads, but it is a big improvement on the "rubber button" that were fitted to the old TQS throttles that were seriously lacking in precision. Cougar’s microstick enables it to emulate a mouse in real time to move a cursor on the screen. Its sensitivity can be reprogrammed for each game. Although they are made of metal, the ergonomics of the directional hat switches ensure that they don’t slip out of the control of your thumb, so they are very comfortable to use. The other buttons are within easy reach of the fingers after a minimum amount of practice. This is what you would expect for a design based on technology that has proved so effective in military applications. There are two stops near the start and stop of the throttle movement, symbolizing the position of the engine in idle mode and transition to the afterburner. Their resistance can be adjusted by turning a knob on the front at the base of the throttle.

You will probably be surprised by the resistance of the recoil springs on the joystick axes. It takes real effort to pull the stick back fully. In flight simulator programs whose action is fast, furious, and prolonged, you’ll soon be getting a serious cramp in your right arm ! The other consequence of the resistance of the springs is that you need to put a lot of effort into moving the stick diagonally. Fortunately, the base unit is so heavy that it will stay in place on the desk, even if you pull the stick back as far as it will go on any of its axes. The HOTAS Cougar is not very useful in action-packed simulations such as Crimson Skies, in which the player is constantly required to perform sudden, violent maneuvers. But overall, the mechanics of the HOTAS Cougar display great strength and durability. Manipulating its eight kilograms (17 lbs) of metal produces sensations that cannot be compared with those offered by any other joystick on the market.