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Where Are the Joysticks For Retro Gaming?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the ch-flightstick-pro-was-aces-for-x-wing dept.

Classic Games (Games) 262

Doctor O writes "With all those nice emulators for classic gaming around (such as MAME, VICE or Stella) I want to establish monthly retro gaming evenings with some friends. The problem is I can't find any good joysticks for that purpose. There's a new version of the legendary Competition Pro, but judging from the many one-star reviews on Amazon, it's terrible. I found the USB version of the classic Atari Joystick, but it doesn't seem to be available and would have prohibitive shipping costs to Germany anyway. So, Slashdot to the rescue — where are the suitable USB joysticks for retro gaming?"

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262 comments

Gravis? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848138)

For anything older than Super Nintendo (SNES, Genesis, SMS, NES, GB, GG, etc) that mostly used a digital joypad (rather than analog stick), the Gravis Gamepad was pretty darn good, though they did wear out fast.

Retro NES USB Controller (2, Informative)

Straker Skunk (16970) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848150)

Is this [thinkgeek.com] what you're looking for?

Re:Retro NES USB Controller (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848180)

might as well complete the slashvertisement... i play all my retro game backups on the dingoo [thinkgeek.com] . best $99.99 i've ever spent on gaming.

Re:Retro NES USB Controller (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848272)

How does this compare with, for instance, the GP2x Wiz or a hacked PSP?

Re:Retro NES USB Controller (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848574)

way better than GP2x/Wiz... probably worse than PSP because of it's smaller screen, and less powered processing units, but the dingoo only costs $99.99. the dingo has an impressively long lasting USB rechargeable battery, has 4GB internal storage with fast response, and supports SDHC and other standard storage cards. it has a great screen that is bright enough to play in complete dark or direct sunlight. the smaller screen and less power hungry processing units lead to less battery consumption.

again, i fully acknowledge this as a response to a slashvertisement response to a slashvertisement story... but these things are so good i bought one for my brother and sister for christmas last year. there is a native linux distro for it (dingux)... lots of homebrew games that take full advantage of the hardware. then on top of all that it has audio video out cables to plug it in to a tv. plus a built in speaker that sounds great, a stereo headphone jack, and a microphone for taking notes... i think the PSP can do all that, and i think there is a way you can get linux running on a PSP too, but with the dingoo, the installation of linux is endorsed by the hardware manufacturer and is made simple (just run the installer, hit OK)

the controller on this is one of the reasons it's better than the wiz... everything is in the right place and directional pad rolls just right and the buttons are just firm enough... L/R triggers are good too. just a great package, and standards compliant hardware ready to play all of the most popular video and audio codec formats, and has a built in FM tuner.

i've seen videos on youtube that show PSX4ALL (a playstation 1 emulator) running at 100%... so the dingoo is at least powerful enough to emulate intensive playstation 1 games (such as quake 2) at full resolution and framerate.

basically, it does everything great. atari controllers are not comfortable or feasible for portable gaming... that might not be what you're going for, but the dingoo control interface works very well for any kind of gaming platform, AND it all fits combined with a powerful gaming system in a portable form factor that fits in your pocket.

if you want retro gaming, you want a dingoo.

Re:Retro NES USB Controller (2, Interesting)

Reed Solomon (897367) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848314)

interesting device. It'd be nice if they sold something like a motherboard that was just the software and video output. I've got an empty NES case sitting here, and while I could put an atom motherboard in it, it'd be neat to plug in a usb gamepad and an SD card slot into such a motherboard.

that said, the "dingoo" seems to offer a mini usb plug. I wonder .. would it be possible to plug in a regular usb hub into that port and then use it with a usb controller or two?

Re:Retro NES USB Controller (1)

madddddddddd (1710534) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848800)

the new dingoo A330 has a 2.4ghtz receiver and supports 2 wireless controllers... it's $95 and the controllers are $15 each. it also has 64MB of high speed RAM instead of the 32MB the A320 has. they both have the same 4GB internal storage and 400mhtz processor that runs completely stable overclocked to 460mhtz running dingux. thinkgeek should really offer these, but i'm guessing they're scared of sony claiming the packaging looks too much like a PSP.

Re:Retro NES USB Controller (1)

shimage (954282) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848410)

I think he wants a stick, but I could be wrong. MAME is an arcade emulator, after all.

Re:Retro NES USB Controller (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848540)

Don't be silly. If he had wanted a joystick he would have asked a simple unambiguous question such as: "where are the suitable USB joysticks for retro gaming?"

Re:Retro NES USB Controller (1)

Dencrypt (1068608) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848432)

oh, if that only were a joySTICK...

Try searching 'joystick' and then 'joypad' on google images and you will see my point. Two very different things.

Re:Retro NES USB Controller (1)

Fumus (1258966) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848724)

That's a gamepad, or joypad. He wants a joystick. Like this [thrustmaster.com] .

Why go retro when you can just buy a nice one in Germany without the hassle of import taxes and high delivery costs? Just go buy it on amazon [amazon.de] and you'll have two for the price of one of the retro ones.

Prohibitive shipping costs? (1)

dwillden (521345) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848164)

The linked USB device costs $16.99 One shipping option to (I picked Bayern) Germany was 16.95. So you get a retro joystick for under $35. They also have another shipping option that runs $28 so you'd be looking at $45. Still not what most people would consider prohibitive.

Re:Prohibitive shipping costs? (1)

vyvepe (809573) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848502)

That is not much. I got a quote on shipping costs from Germany (seller: Deluxecable GmbH) to Slovakia (air distance in the order of 550 km). It was 60 for about 1 kg item, size about 10 cm x 25 cm x 25 cm including packaging. Standard shipping. That was prohibitive. Shipping was significantly higher than the item price. I typically get quotes in the range of 5 - 10 for something like this.

Re:Prohibitive shipping costs? (3, Informative)

Dr. Hok (702268) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848598)

The linked USB device costs $16.99 One shipping option to (I picked Bayern) Germany was 16.95. So you get a retro joystick for under $35. They also have another shipping option that runs $28 so you'd be looking at $45. Still not what most people would consider prohibitive.

Plus import tax (14% IIRC) plus VAT (19%) plus "customs handling fee" (20%).

That's what I had to pay (on top of both the price and shipping) when I bought stuff at thinkgeek and had it shipped to Germany. So this $17 joystick would cost you $52, over 3 times the price. OTOH, $35 might be under the limit, so you might get along without paying taxes at all.

Re:Prohibitive shipping costs? (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848750)

The limit is fairly complicated. IIRC, anything below 20 EUR (~25 USD at the time of posting) is tax-free; beyond that it depends on how many different kinds of things things you order, how each of these things is taxed and some other factors. I had a 700 USD group order from ThinkGeek arrive without any additional taxes and for a similar one I had to pay more than 100 EUR in taxes and tariffs because we ordered too many different kinds of things.

Importing stuff is complicated.

I hear ya.... (5, Interesting)

cormandy (513901) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848170)

How timely, as I have been asking the same question... I used to have an Apple //c, and although I have indulged in retro Apple // gaming on various emulators over the years, it was never quite the same without using a traditional Apple analogue joystick. I have since decided to tackle this obvious problem with some electronics hackery. I recently (as in last week) purchased an original Apple // analogue joystick at auction on eBay, and I plan on building an Apple-joystick-port-to-USB-human-interface-device adapter circuit using a microcontroller such as the Microchip PIC. Should be straight forward, and if I am successful I will publish a how-to online, with schematics, parts list, microcontroller source code and Gerber data for the PCBs. Wish me luck!

Re:I hear ya.... (3, Funny)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848202)

I recently (as in last week) purchased an original Apple // analogue joystick at auction on eBay, and I plan on building an Apple-joystick-port-to-USB-human-interface-device adapter circuit using a microcontroller such as the Microchip PIC. Should be straight forward, and if I am successful I will publish a how-to online, with schematics, parts list, microcontroller source code and Gerber data for the PCBs. Wish me luck!

Luck? I am wishing you a girlfriend.

Re:I hear ya.... (2, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848340)

First things first - where do you get the schematics for a girlfriend-to-geek-interface-device?

Re:I hear ya.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848364)

Luck? I am wishing you a girlfriend.

Ah, the clichèd put-down. Someone too stupid and incompetent to achieve anything of similar complexity or skill lashes out with the intellectual equivalent of "well, I didn't want to do that anyway... and you're a doody head"

I'm even more concerned about the people who think it's funny, I mean it isn't like we've all heard it a million times before... oh, wait.

Re:I hear ya.... (2, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848556)

Exactly. And what's sad is that his "joke" has a better score than the original post. For shame, mods.

Re:I hear ya.... (5, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848434)

That's nice of you, but can you wait until after he's published the schematics? Girlfriends tend to have a terrible impact on geek productivity...

Re:I hear ya.... (1)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848684)

Grass always being greener and all that, there are days when I'd gladly trade mine for a quality joystick.

Re:I hear ya.... (5, Informative)

MerlinTheGreen (180976) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848462)

Devices based on V-USB (software only USB implementation for AVR microcontrollers) are probably worth a look because designs you can copy are so numerous.

This is one of the most versatile. I doesn't support the Apple IIc yet but the BBC joysticks had a similar capability so the only difference is likely to be in the adapter lead:

http://denki.world3.net/retro_v2.html [world3.net]

Perhaps you don't want to make your own circuit board. If so, I had a quick look at the retro's schematic and reckon you should be able to get the retro firmware running on an off the shelf board such as the one adafruit sell.

http://www.adafruit.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=16&products_id=174 [adafruit.com]

I've got one of these and its a great little board. I built a temperature logger using one and I got it running (hardware and software) in about four hours. That said I did spend another three building the programmer!

Finally there a gallery of lots of HID devices made using cheap AVR controllers:

http://www.obdev.at/products/vusb/prjhid.html [obdev.at]

Rewire a usb keyboard controller Re:I hear ya.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848732)

Edmontonian traveled around the world and couldn't leave my geek behind...

I took apart a usb keyboard ( the flexible one.. it was crap as a keyboard ) and fit the usb controller inside a 'classic' non-analogue joystick and wired it up so I could play mame games on my N800 on the 9 hour 100km bus rides in India ( or was in Indonesia... whatever ).

As an aside.. I remember walking into a hostel in Kuala Lumpur wondering if I'd be too out of place taking out my soldering iron in the common room. I was shocked to see a guy sitting there working on a circuit board.

If you want *good* - arcade controllers (4, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848184)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcade_controller#In_the_home [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namco_Arcade_Stick [wikipedia.org]
etc. (there are also resources to build them)

Generally quite close to classic joysticks, only much better. They are slightly on the expensive side, but OTOH will be, most likely, the only link with you for your great-great-great-great-grandchildren / etc.

Re:If you want *good* - arcade controllers (3, Informative)

Mprx (82435) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848508)

2nding this. I have an XBox 360 Mad Catz SFIV Fightstick modded with real Seimitsu arcade parts and it works great. It's tough and responsive and it works on Linux. Best controller I've used.

I followed these instructions: http://pineconeattack.com/2009/08/06/how-to-mod-the-madcatz-fight-stick-with-seimitsu-parts/ [pineconeattack.com]

In the US and Japan you can buy a Hori Real Arcade Pro EX-SE with Seimitsu parts already included, but with import taxes it would have been too expensive for me. Or if you prefer you can use Sanwa parts, the other popular brand.

xgaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848216)

http://www.xgaming.com/ Been thinking about those ever since the dreams of my own little arcade heaven in the basement started :)

The one and only joystick ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848238)

... is The Arcade [wikipedia.org]

.... Question is just if you can get something jury-rigged with a serial-to-USB converter or something.

Great site! RetroUSB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848242)

Has nice stuff for almost any system from USB joysticks and adapters, plus much more:

http://www.retrousb.com/index.php?cPath=21&osCsid=f1647d5dde457e9508ed04cd632c0dcb

Another one (1)

mvar (1386987) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848252)

This is something i've been looking for a while too, i had a serial-interface joystick labeled "multijoy" by Micro-Technica, which for some weird reason stopped responding a few years ago. Unfortunately i can't find any info for this or its maker on the web. I'm planning to try the following: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2007/05/decent_cheap_us/ [wired.com]

Keyboard may be best for some things (2, Interesting)

VShael (62735) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848260)

I use Mame quite a bit for the classic arcade games of my youth.
Those old games had every type of joystick. From the wireframe starwars game, which had a double handed pivotal 4 button thing, to the Outrun steering wheel and pedals, to the 6 button knob and stick Mortal Kombat. (And the track and ball of Missile Command, but I never did play that)

No one USB joystick controller is going to be suitable for every game you want to play.

On the other hand, I've found that keyboard and mouse are sufficient for about 95% of my gaming needs, with only the slightest hint of a readjustment to my style of play.

Re:Keyboard may be best for some things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848644)

From the wireframe starwars game, which had a double handed pivotal 4 button thing

That was an awesome controller. Playing Star Wars on Mame without that doesn't capture the same thrill of speeding down the Death Star trench. Now if only I could get one of those controllers for the PC...

USB Digital Joysticks Suck (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848264)

I've tried several USB joysticks - not joypads, joysticks. The only kind I can ever find are optimized for playing Street Fighter type games and they totally suck for arcade gaming. They only have 8-directional movement which absolutely cripples you in some games. The joystick registers a mechanical "click" whenever it engages. It's either on or off, no middle ground. This is fine for Pac-Man but absolutely sucks at Joust and Gyruss. I've never seen a good analog stick, those are all optimized for flight sims. I did once see a nice arcade two-stick set with an integrated trackball for a sky-high price, advertised as the ultimate arcade stick...again, the same digital joystick optimized for Street Fighter.

Re:USB Digital Joysticks Suck (2, Informative)

Bob_Sheep (988029) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848320)

There are a few analogue joysticks of the type you are looking for here:
http://www.gremlinsolutions.co.uk/arcadejoysticks.php [gremlinsolutions.co.uk]

The best joysticks for this sort of gaming are the ones intended for use in proper arcade cabinets.

Re:USB Digital Joysticks Suck (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848634)

That is a really good option.

This being slashdot, I would recommend GP constructing his own joystick. This one [gremlinsolutions.co.uk] (from parent link) is an analog joystick with USB interface. It supports 8 buttons and has 360 degree sensing capabilities (not 4 or 8 axis).

With that, 8 cheap buttons [gremlinsolutions.co.uk] and some woodwork you can have the ultimate joystick

Re:USB Digital Joysticks Suck (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848336)

The only kind I can ever find are optimized for playing Street Fighter type games and they totally suck for arcade gaming.

What does that even mean? SF2, SF2CE and turbo all ran in a standard Capcom CPS-2 cabinet with the same joystick and button types as all other contemporary Capcom arcade games. Basically, streetfighter cabs and parts were more or less the same as everything else out there at the time. In other words, a joystick suitable for streetfighter will work well for many, many other games.

Exceptions may include defender, missile command and tempest.

Or perhaps you are referring to much newer arcade games?

Re:USB Digital Joysticks Suck (3, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848428)

Weren't Joust and Gyruss purely digital inputs? I'm trying to think of any non-trackball / non-wheel / non-paddle stick-based arcade games that used analog controls from a retro time-period, and the only one I'm coming up with is Afterburner.

Re:USB Digital Joysticks Suck (1)

shimage (954282) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848490)

I thought most arcade sticks were 8-way digital ones? I was going to say that maybe analog sticks became more common after I stopped playing at arcades, but my experience covers most of the games that run well on MAME. Most of those games were designed with 4 or 8-way digital sticks in mind, so I'm not sure what the problem is. For example, I find it difficult to believe that Gyruss uses an analog stick, given that basically all shoot 'em ups (even the new ones) use 8-way digital sticks.

Re:USB Digital Joysticks Suck (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848754)

If he wants to play emulated C64 or Amiga games that's what he'll want. Those were the sticks we used in those days. In fact microswitch joysticks were a godsend after years of crappy rubber contact pad sticks most companies made previously.

360 fight sticks, or build your own (1)

deweyhewson (1323623) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848280)

If you're looking for plug and play, this, or similar fight sticks, could work nicely as they are plug and play with Windows: http://www.amazon.com/Xbox360-Fighting-Stick-EX-Xbox-360/dp/B000V02P6Q [amazon.com]
If you're wanting a bit more genuine experience, though, and are willing to put some time in to build your own panel (it's easier than it sounds), Ultimarc [ultimarc.com] makes some of the nicest controls around. The owner, Andy, is one of the greatest guys to deal with when it comes to support, as well.

~Someone whose built his own arcade specifically for the purpose of reliving the classic.

what an odd coincidence (1)

Reed Solomon (897367) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848290)

I was attempting to use a Nintendo Wii controller with a NES emulator under ubuntu the other day.. mednafen .. but I got frustrated and put it on hold for a bit. linux recognizes it alright, but mednafen is looking for something in /dev/input/js*, and the wiimote is of course a bluetooth device.

mednafen is the only nes emulator I tried that ran mario adventure, a hacked SMB3 rom with new levels so thats why I didn't just try a different emulator.

I'll probably try again later.

I'd just like to interject (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848378)

What you're referring to as Linux, is in fact, GNU/Linux, or as I've recently taken to calling it, GNU plus Linux. Linux is not an operating system unto itself, but rather another free component of a fully functioning GNU system made useful by the GNU corelibs, shell utilities and vital system components comprising a full OS as defined by POSIX.

Many computer users run a modified version of the GNU system every day, without realizing it. Through a peculiar turn of events, the version of GNU which is widely used today is often called "Linux", and many of its users are not aware that it is basically the GNU system, developed by the GNU Project.

There really is a Linux, and these people are using it, but it is just a part of the system they use. Linux is the kernel: the program in the system that allocates the machine's resources to the other programs that you run. The kernel is an essential part of an operating system, but useless by itself; it can only function in the context of a complete operating system. Linux is normally used in combination with the GNU operating system: the whole system is basically GNU with Linux added, or GNU/Linux. All the so-called "Linux" distributions are really distributions of GNU/Linux.

Re:I'd just like to interject (1)

Reed Solomon (897367) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848412)

that is to say, even if I cared one way or another about terminology, I was in fact clearly referring to the kernel itself in my original post.

Re:I'd just like to interject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848546)

Sorry dude, but you got trolled [slashdot.org] . I was one of the idiots who replied to him :-(.

XArcade. (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848304)

I have a dual XArcade joystick. It acts as a old fashioned PS-2 keyboard and you need to buy their keyboard to USB adapter, since most generic ones can't deal with many simultaneous key presses.

It's built like an arcade cabinet and is quite expensive as a result.

It's absoloutely fantastic. It can take a real punishing.

Re:XArcade. (1)

Tobias Lobster (169833) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848612)

Very much agree about the XArcade, it's a really nice bit of kit. The only downsides are the price and the amount of space it takes up. I bought one years ago with the intention of using it as a removable controller on a Mame cabinet that I never built.

Re:XArcade. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848638)

I also play with the X-Arcade Tankstick. However,

  - if you play Frogger, tapping it hard right or left will cause the stick to bounce back enough to get you a counter-movement and die
  - if you play Track'n'Field, it runs too wide from center to left and right to allow top performance play
  - 4-way movement for Crazy Kong / Donkey Kong is more difficult as the Tankstick has 8-way movement
  - its buttons tend to be a bit hard to press for my own taste

It's basically true that no single joystick will allow you the best absolute play style.

[post by the current (still unofficial) WR holder of the fastest hour of MAME Frogger - played on my laptop's buttons]

Get something ergonomic and do yourself a favor. (1)

JDeane (1402533) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848316)

Just buy a nice Logitec Playstation 2 style USB pad and enjoy 99% of the games if you set it up right.

MAME works well on it, some games will require fiddling with no matter how good your controller is.

As some one who remembers when the 2600 was still on the shelves... I can honestly say, just buy a newer style controller, don't torture your hands like that and if you use a pad like the NES do not do it!!! You will end up with Nintendo finger like I did... lol (At least it hasn't seemed to effect me in any really bad way that I can tell, now if I get bad arthritis in just those 2 fingers I might complain a little)

PS3 Controller (1)

lwatts (1749500) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848318)

There are plenty of tuts [google.com] for getting a PS3 controller working on a PC.

Re:PS3 Controller (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848476)

Except the Playstation's controller is a horrible, anti-ergonomic piece of junk. In fact, that was the main reason I never got a PS2 -- I just can't stand that controller!

So, for a fine gamepad, I'd instead suggest a wired Xbox 360 controller; but an arcade-style joystick is usually the best way to play old-school 2D games. I have a cheapo generic one, and it's pretty sweet (search for "wrestle joystick").

Re:PS3 Controller (2, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848630)

N64's gamepad was the best ever made, imho. And it even has the NES gamepad-like directional cross. Now, if I could just stop being lazy and build an adapter :|

They're making a comeback (1)

kanto (1851816) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848346)

A product I recently heard of (haven't tested myself, bought the speedlink competition pros); basically an adapter for atari compatible joysticks http://atariage.com/store/index.php?l=product_detail&p=267 [atariage.com] . So just dust of the good old grenade joystick from the attic, bring it down to the basement where you live and let the games begin.

p.s. The competition pro clones are alright for the occasional SWOS-match, a bit clunky compared to the working order original but that may pass with time.

The Same Answer as for Any Game System (1)

nz17 (601809) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848352)

The answer is the mighty (expensive) X-Arcade joystick [xgaming.com] . Buy two of the two-player models or four single-player models and you'll be set for four players: from one-button games to eight-button games and trackball games like Millipede. And they have plenty of adapters, so you can use them with non-serial or non-USB systems as well. I know they have adapters for Dreamcast (out-of-stock, *sigh*), GameCube/Wii, XBOX/360, PS2/3, etc. I wish I knew of a superior - cheaper or "more universal" (NES, Genesis/MegaDrive, SNES, and such) quality joystick - but as with most goods, the high-quality gear requires high-caliber materials, workmanship, knowledge, and engineering, so you have to pay the price for them.

Competition pro is not that bad. (1)

Knoeki (1149769) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848366)

The competition pro is decent as far as I know. I've seen it survive a rough game of Decathlon. If you know that game, you'll know what I mean.

Wii Remote (1)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848370)

I use a Wii remote + Classic pad for most PC gaming purposes, while not "retro" it works for most games and works for Linux/Windows using a small app and a USB bluetooth adapter. I guess it works with Mac too.
Except for N64(which I rarely play) games, it kind of works for all. For most consoles you just need a d-pad and a few buttons, and after years of physical labor my hands aren't as agile to hold a square/flat pad like when I was a kid, so this is a good solution for me. It being wireless helps a lot with "party"/hotseat gaming, too.
I used to have a PSX/PS2 pad with an USB adapter for two pads before that, but all the wires were a bit of a pain when passing the pad around.

www.dealextreme.com has a lot of controllers and n (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848382)

www.dealextreme.com has a lot of controllers and no shipping cost.

You can't beat the originals. (1)

lightversusdark (922292) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848384)

The original is always the best.
I bought all the adapters I need from Lik-Sang before Sony shut them down, but there must be other retailers.
Probably a bunch of original controllers plus adapters will cost less than any fancy "Arcade" stick anyway.
For convenience' sake, a PS2 controller covers almost all bases.
Points to note if you are on a Mac:
Most emulators (i.e. Richard Bannister's stuff) won't enumerate multiple identical adapters. Neither will the various joypad-to-keypress utilities I tried that I forget the name of.
I have a 4-way PS2-USB adapter that doesn't get around this either. Perhaps buying different adapters will help, unless as is likely, they are the same guts inside.
Finally, PS3 Bluetooth controllers simply wouldn't work on OS X due to a limitation of the OS X Bluetooth stack. It is possible to get them to work cabled over USB.
This may be different in Snow Leopard, but I wasted so long trying to help code around it I swore I would never go back to it.

Avoid that joystick (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848390)

If that is the USB joystick that I purchased a few years back, it is roundly terrible. Sticky and unusable. Avoid.

If you're really into sticks and emulation, remember that Xbox 360 controllers basically out of the box all work as PC controllers. A solid fighting stick would give you a great ball for Pac Man. If that doesn't suit your fancy, building a stick setup for your games is a time-honored tradition that doesn't require much skill, but always comes out looking badass.

Of course, you'd need a stick, a trackball, a ring, etc... But those are solvable.

Pinouts.ru (1)

cloudscout (104011) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848414)

Check out the Videogame Connector Pinouts at Pinouts.ru [pinouts.ru] . Many of them include suggestions for connecting them directly to a PC.

You could also get something like the Ultimarc U-HID or I-PAC. Many MAME users have been using these for years to adapt the controls in their arcade cabinets to work with PCs. You'll have to wire up a connector to let you plug in whatever kind of joystick you want but the flexibility means you can use it with several different controller types.

PS3 arcade sticks (1)

mattbee (17533) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848450)

Well if you want a digital stick & buttons like an arcade machine of yore any wired PS3 peripheral will do as it has a USB connector and presents itself as a joystick e.g. I bought one of these [amazon.co.uk] the other day and it has a great feel. The only weirdness is that the buttons come up in an unexpected order, so you need to be able to reprogram your emulator to recognise that - MAME certainly supports that though.

make yer own... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848460)

Buy your prefered original joystick on ebay or whatever and then get:
http://www.legacyengineer.com/storefront/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=35&products_id=86

You should be able to hook it up pretty easily....

Whats wrong with the USB Competition Pro? (2, Interesting)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848492)

I own one and it gives exactly the same gaming experience as back in the good 'ol days of my beloved C64. (From the time I got rid of those floppy Quickshots IV)

Re:Whats wrong with the USB Competition Pro? (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848774)

FWIW I think the USB Competition Pro is OK too. It's got those annoying extra buttons near the shaft (don't mess with a classic!) but is otherwise fine. Hey if it can survive me playing Speedball II on it, it's ok by me.

Re:Whats wrong with the USB Competition Pro? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848798)

The problem is it's low sample frequency. The USB Competition Pro polls axis/buttons only 12.5 times per second, which is 1/4th of the frequency of an original C64 (50 times/seconds).

It's impossible to play games like Decathlon or other games, where quick reaction is needed, with thr USB version.

Re:Whats wrong with the USB Competition Pro? (2, Informative)

Ravenger (715905) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848820)

It's not bad, but it can't handle rapid joystick waggling. Try playing Wizball on a C64 emulator and waggle the stick to activate a power-up. It doesn't work half the time.

Make Your Own! (1)

yerktoader (413167) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848510)

Seriously, you guys:

Listen to CMDR TACO: http://cmdrtaco.net/jubei/ [cmdrtaco.net]

However, you don't have to build an entire cabinet-

According to Slagcoin.com: "What matters most is the gaming experience. You should be open to using parts and settings that may be different from the familiar standard."

Now-

I have the Interact Dreamcast Alloy Arcade Stick. It's not as popular as other normal Street Fighter Sticks, but I'm a Soulcalibur guy. I preferred 8-way action to 4, and the Interact stick never let me down. Whooped many an ass with this bad boy: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=IRo&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&q=interact+dreamcast+alloy+arcade+stick&aq=f&aqi=m1&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai= [google.com]

Point being, people are divided on what stick is best for them. The only thing I find consistent in arcade sticks is that basically everyone loves a real arcade stick to an aftermarket. Accordingly:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcade_controller [wikipedia.org]
http://www.slagcoin.com/joystick/attributes_brands.html [slagcoin.com]
Sanwa: http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sanwa-d.co.jp%2F&sl=auto&tl=en [google.com]
http://www.happcontrols.com/ [happcontrols.com]
MAKEZINE! http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=Ut8&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&q=happ+site%3Amakezine.com&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai= [google.com]

No matter everyone else's opinion, find what controller works for you. 4Way, 8Way, find what you like best. Maybe you can buy an old console arcade stick and convert it. Maybe make one from arcade parts. Put in the effort and you will not be disappointed.

JoyAdapter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848534)

Use the original, you only have to build an adapter. http://www.student.uni-kl.de/~dittrich/joyadapter/index.html

A couple of options I use (2, Informative)

necronom426 (755113) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848538)

I use one of my original Zipsticks with a Stelladaptor (http://www.stelladaptor.com/), so you could get an old Zipstick, Comp. Pro, etc. from eBay, then use the Stelladaptor to connect it to your computer with a USB lead.

The other thing I use (for games that require more than one button) is my home-made arcade controls (http://homepage.ntlworld.com/paul.a.kitching/mamecp/cp1.htm).

You didn't look hard enough. (1)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848548)

If this [thinkgeek.com] doesn't work for you then I recommend that you hunt down a USB version of any Thrustmaster controller, such as the Thrustmaster Firestorm.

Re:You didn't look hard enough. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848718)

If this [thinkgeek.com] doesn't work for you then I recommend that you hunt down a USB version of any Thrustmaster controller, such as the Thrustmaster Firestorm.

YOU didn't read hard enough - that was already suggested, and responded to.

Re:You didn't look hard enough. (1)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848760)

Well, sorry then. Perhaps it's worth noting that I also have a hand-made game port controller for MAME purposes.

Mad Catz or Hori (1)

shimage (954282) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848554)

Off the shelf, these have the best reputation. The Mad Catz ones are pretty easy to mod, if you don't like the parts. That said, the Mad Catz Tournament Edition and Hori Real Arcade Pro sticks come with real high-end arcade parts. I think they are all designed with consoles in mind, but some come with a USB plug. I have Mad Catz's TvC stick and Hori's Wii Fight Stick and they both work fine for me (via cwiid). The Hori stick is one of their "cheap" ones, so it doesn't have good parts and they aren't easy to replace, but probably it's better than anything off of DealExtreme, and it wasn't that expensive before it was discontinued. The X-Gaming ones are probably ok too (though impressions seem more mixed), but I didn't want two sticks attached to each other (the solos have been listed as out of stock for some time now).

This might do the trick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848592)

Designed for the retro games on Xbox Live, it's USB compatible, the Mad Catz Arcade Gamestick:

http://gear.ign.com/articles/765/765614p1.html

Use ORIGINAL joysticks! (4, Informative)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848596)

The best joysticks for retrogaming are of course the original ones with a Retro Adapter [world3.net] .

It has support for most original joysticks and gamepads: C64/Amiga, Atari 8-bit computers and consoles, Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis/Megadrive, Saturn, Neo Geo, MSX, BBC Micro, PCE/TGFX, NES, SNES, N64, PSX, PS2, 3DO, CD32, PC Gameport, you name it.

Get an Arcade Cab (1)

mooterSkooter (1132489) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848600)

Honestly, getting an arcade cabinet and sticking a PC inside was the best (gaming related) move I ever made. Obviously you need the space but it results in a 99% perfect arcade gaming experience. I bought mine over a year ago and I've yet to become bored with it (unlike every other (purely) gaming device I've ever owned, WII, XBOX etc). Having the correct controls for arcade game is simply unbeatable. Bombjack, for instance was simply not designed for DPads or keyboards it works so much better using a proper arcade stick.

Another factor in recreating the genuine experience is the monitor. You have to have an old style, low-res 15Khz display. Again, the old arcade were designed with the blurryness of these displays in mind. Some games look awful on an LCD or razor-sharp CRT yet look incredible on a 15Khz arcade monitor

I love my cab and will be very sad when the monitor eventually and inevitably dies...and CRT's are becoming as rare as hens teeth.

Amazon reviews? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32848616)

Amazon reviews?

Well, if you believe them, shame on you.

The USB competition pro is really quite good. Remember it's a fast 8/16-bit home computer style click-click joystick, not a mushy slow arcade stick designed to stand up to abuse from drunkards though.

I've always wondered... (1)

Kuukai (865890) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848642)

Why did joystick buttons switch sides? On old sticks like this one, the buttons (in this case button) are generally on the left side (in this particular case it's easily re-positionable if you run the cable from the right side rather than the back, but the general design of old joysticks has buttons on the left), but for modern arcade sticks and joypads all the buttons are on the right. It's kinda weird, isn't it? One would think that since most people get better fine motor control out of their right hand it never would have changed...

Help for Sidewinder Force Feedback Pro? (1)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848696)

Related, if perhaps not quite so retro:

I recently recovered my old MS Sidewinder Force Feedback Pro joystick (PC gaming joystick, not meant for console use). It's a wonderful joystick, but only offers a GamePort connection and the driver CD is 32-bit only.

Is it worth trying to get it working on a modern 64-bit Win7 laptop that doesn't have a GamePort? I know there are GamePort/USB adapters, but from what I've read the Sidewinder joysticks used both digital and analog signals, plus had to receive signals from the PC (for force feedback), and apparently most (all?) adapters can't support the full functionality. Are there any that are worth getting? Beyond that, drivers are of course a concern; if I can get enough driver support for flight sims that's fine, although the full analog control + lots of buttons + force feedback experience would be very nice, and ideally the configuration utility would be available (to account for the fact that a lot of games don't actually have direct support for joysticks anymore).

Thanks for your help, seriously. I'd love to get this thing working again, and I can't be the only person with a similar hardware/software situation.

Build your own? (1)

Hellahulla (936042) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848730)

In the days gone by when I was really into retro gaming I had no trouble finding designs, work-logs and ideas for building my own joysticks for MAME gaming. They usually used a hacked keyboard controller or cheap joypad board built into a wooden case with arcade quality buttons. Search engines seem to still return plenty of results for "mame controller" or "arcade controller".

USB to game port convertors..... (1)

Ponder Stibions (962426) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848816)

Used to see loads of these being offered fairly cheaply a few years back. Surely there's someone still making them or 2nd hand via ebay? Then plug in an old joystick, buying one if you have to, but try looking at your local freecycle group and you can probably get a free one! Then simply plug and erm play.

Hack a PS3 pad (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 3 years ago | (#32848832)

It's hard to do your first time, but if you're really having trouble there are forums for it. Try Shoryuken.com's tech/hardware section [shoryuken.com] . There are many people who will build a custom controller for you. Happ controls [happ.com] has pretty much any arcade joystick part you could ask for. As for compatibility, I don't have a clue, ask an expert.
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