I’m too old and jaded to believe “the hype” any more. Be it hype for the latest blockbuster film or high profile videogame. X-Arcade Joysticks are nothing new. They’ve been reviewed a billion times by a billion publications. I haven’t come across a negative review. How can this be? I decided to take things into my own hands (pun intended) and see what all the raves were about for myself. Forget what you’ve heard and read elsewhere, this is the real review, the only one you’ll ever need. This is a review for the 15-pound, made of bullet proof and “pro” arcade materials X-Arcade Dual Joystick (for those couldn’t read the title). My creative question upon plugging in was: does X mark the spot?
Playing MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) with an X-Arcade Dual Joystick is about as close to playing real arcade games as you can get. The claim is that the buttons and joystick are made with real arcade parts and they truly feel that way. I’ve had other sticks in the past crap out on me from prolonged use and abuse. I bashed, I mean tested, the X-Arcade Dual Joystick on numerous games, especially shooters. Everything held up perfectly like an arcade stick on a $2000 cab (arcade cabinet) would. I was pleased and impressed. When I first began using the X-Arcade Dual Joystick it was a bit too tight. With little trouble I was able to loosen it which made gameplay much more enjoyable. Why it came so tight is beyond me.
I tried the X-Arcade Dual Joystick with every videogame genre MAME supports and was pleased with the results across the board. I’m a huge 2D vertical and horizontal shooter fan so naturally I gravitated towards all the classics like Raiden and R-Type. There’s no better way to play. Because you can replace parts easily (so I’m told) I really went to town. No alien invader was safe I tell you! The button layout accommodates all the classic Capcom and SNK fighters. If you’re a Mortal Kombat 3 orUltimate MK3 fan fear not, they even have a Run button in place too. The joystick has an oval head as opposed to the round heads you’d find on a Pac-Man cab. I prefer this style of joystick and it works well with all of the games I tried.
I was shocked to find that the X-Arcade Dual Joystick didn’t come with a standard USB plug. They all should, damn it. X-Arcade does sell a USB adapter as well as console adapters but that will run you extra. I had to plug the X-Arcade Dual Joystick in through my keyboard port and then plug my keyboard into the stick in order to map buttons and do certain commands in MAME. Laptop-only users may want to check with X-Arcade before they buy to make sure they can play without a hitch. I downloaded a version of MAME 32 and was happy to find an X-Arcade joystick setting in place which meant I didn’t have to map any buttons which is always nice. That handy setting saves a lot of time.
The X-Arcade Dual Joystick is pretty big for a single player but it’s meant for two. I’m a big guy and felt restricted while playing with a friend. If the sticks were spaced out two or three more inches away from one another it would be perfect. To be fair I’ve felt this way while playing real arcade games, especially mid-90s Capcom stuff. I’m generally pleased that the X-Arcade Dual Joystick faithfully recreates the arcade experience at home – besides this minor pain, of course.
I hate to agree with other critics but the X-Arcade Dual Joystick is the real deal. Minor gripes aside this is the only joystick you really need. Sure it’s a bit more expensive than anything out there but you get what you pay for. I don’t have an Xbox 360 but it’d be grand if this stick was compatible with Xbox Live arcade games. The X-Arcade Dual Joystick truly creates an authentic arcade experience. All that’s missing is a smoke-filled room with sticky floors and people coming up behind you slamming down 50 cents for a challenge. Damn I miss those days.