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X-Arcade joystick review
Posted by jahc on 2007/7/31 11:51:05 (7522 reads)

Back in the year 2000, while browsing the web I somehow came across a site selling extremely expensive arcade joysticks, made from real arcade parts. They were way out of my price range, but they looked cool, and I NEVER forgot them. Anyway, 5 years later after I'd forgotten all about them, (that was a joke, feel free to laugh!). I found out my favourite arcade games (or "spacies" as we call them in New Zealand) were playable under a software arcade machine emulator called MAME! And not only the cheesy space invader games with crap graphics from the 1980's, but also the REAL games, like Street Fighter 2! And X-Men Vs Streetfighter! Whats more, my 1.4 GHz Athlon played them perfect.. full screen, 60fps, no graphical glitches! This was great, so a few days after my discovery, I went out and bought a 6 button control pad. It did the job okay, but then a few months later, I somehow came across the arcade stick reseller again. And as luck would have it, they had a distributor right here in New Zealand. Well.. it was expensive.. but I was in a better financial situation, so I plonked my money down, and I've never looked back.

Introducing.. the X-Arcade Solo Player joystick!
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The x-arcade solo player stick sports an 8 direction control stick (which can be set to 4 directions for better playability with classics such as PacMan), with 11 buttons littered on the front and sides. One on each side for pinball style games, the traditional 6 buttons on the top plus another two underneath just in case you need them, and what looks like an easily identifyable Start or Join-in button. (Most arcade machines require you to press Start after inserting your coins). It also weighs an impressive 12 lbs (5.4 kg)

Why are you standing on me?!

The first thing I should mention, is that this joystick is advertised as being virtually indestructible. I dont think its possible to break it. And if you do somehow manage that feat, it has a lifetime warranty. Mine has been going strong for about 2 years now. My younger brother seems to be an expert at wearing out Playstation control pads, but my x-arcade stick still functions perfect.

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Wide compatibility..

A neat feature of the X-Arcade line of joysticks is that they're not designed for any specific system, and will connect to virtually all consoles and computers, with the appropriate "adapter". And whats more, one adapter is included free of charge with the purchase. Adapters are currently available for the following systems:
Nintendo Wii, Gamecube, Playstation One/Two/Three, Xbox, Dreamcast, Apple, and computers via USB and PS/2.

The PS/2 adapter is quite special in my opinion. You plug your arcade stick into your computers PS/2 keyboard port, and then the computers keyboard into the X-Arcade stick. Then, the joystick will function by sending "keyboard events" to the computer when its being used, and at the same time you will still be able to use the actual keyboard. But what this means, is that NO SPECIAL DRIVERS are required! You can use this stick with any game that has configurable keyboard controls! I use it on my AmigaOneXE with not only XMAME, but also VICE (Commodore 64 emulation) and SMS Plus (Sega megadrive emulation). Very little configuration is needed with XMAME, because the stick already uses XMAME's default keyboard controls. How cool is that?
(For those of you that are curious, the stick is mapped to the numerical keypad, 8 for up, 4 left, 6 right, 2 down)

Update: I've tried the USB adapter, and it works the exact same way as the PS/2 adapter. It looks like a USB keyboard to your computer, so theres no need to mess around with AmigaInput joystick prefs under OS4.

Lets play doubles!

Whats that you say? You want a 2 player version of this beast? Well good news, guys, there is not only a 2 player version available (with two sets of controls of course), but an even BIGGER 2 player unit named the Tank Stick, which is even heavier, and also more ideal for us 20-30yr olds who need more elbow space when playing side by side. The Tank Stick also has a trackball in the middle which operates like a standard 3 button mouse. This is the next item on my "to-buy" list in case you havent already guessed!

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The weak points

If you buy the 1 player joystick and connect it with a PS/2 adapter, you might want to play with or against another person using the keyboard controls. Well, most amiga-gamers will know about the dreaded "keyboard conflict" problem, whereby certain combinations of keys cannot be held down at the same time. So, while playing together your characters may not respond fluidly.
A solution to this problem could be either using the USB adapter, getting a 2 player stick, or just finding keys that wont conflict with each other.

The other problem is that arcade gamers are used to the joystick being stuck rigidly in front of you. So while using the solo player x-arcade stick, you may move the unit around your desk slightly and accidentally, and it may get into angles that make it difficult for you to operate your player properly. Having said that, once you get used to the joystick not being fixed in front of you, this becomes less of a problem. Also, the Tank Stick should help in this regard because its much heavier as well (an extra 8 lbs over the 1 player versions, 20 lbs/9 kg in total). There are 6 rubber feet underneath the solo player stick, but they are not the suction cap kind which are featured heavily on old Amiga joysticks.

In conclusion

This stick feels so great that I prefer it to a real arcade machine now. The AmigaOne will play most games at a silky smooth rate of 60 fps. It's built to last. AND it's compatible with all recent gaming consoles and computers!

Official X-Arcade Site: http://x-arcade.com

Current prices, as of July 2007:
1 Player Joystick $69.95 USD
2 Player Joystick $129.95 USD
Tank Stick $199.95 USD

  0   Article ID : 19

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