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Gear Review: X-Arcade’s Tankstick

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Setting what has to be a record for the world’s heaviest arcade stick, X-Arcade has released the Tankstick, which more than lives up to its name. Durable, loaded with features, and possibly able to withstand a direct nuclear attack, the Tank is a fantastic piece of hardware for those looking for an arcade experience at home.

Taking their two-player dual joystick and adding a trackball in the middle, this latest controller is easily their best. The extra space side to side is more comfortable to use with another player. Buttons are laid out as they are on X-Arcade’s other sticks, and remain well placed to go along with enough of them to handle any game you’re throwing at it.

The trackball is the obvious draw here. Heavy, thick, and set on top of smooth rollers, this piece can handle everything from retro titles such as Centipede to recent titles like the popular Golden Tee series. There are no complaints as to its performance or accuracy, and with a sharp matte black finish, there are likewise no issues with its appearance.

Hooking the stick to a PC (with adapters available for other home consoles as well) is a simple USB connection. For this specific model, you’ll need two open USB ports to connect, which could be a problem for some. Windows XP and Vista both recognized the piece immediately.

The trackball doubles as a mouse, so navigation is easy and accurate. The joystick is recognized as a keyboard, so with some practice, navigating menus in arcade emulator MAME will become second nature without any additional hardware hooked up to your PC. A button on the back of the stick removes the ability to move left or right with the trackball, a easy way to ensure straight shots in golf or bowling games that use a back/forward motion. It’s cheap, but it works.

Included in the box are two free retro compilations, so if getting MAME up and running seems daunting, you can still play with a Midway or Atari classics disc. These are mostly games that take advantage of the stick’s best features such as Smash TV, which utilizes the dual joysticks.

The price can be brought into question, as the standalone trackball offered has a usual price of $70 (on sale as this is being written for $50), and the dual stick is $130. For the same price, you can have these pieces separate and lose some of the bulk. The Tank seems geared more towards users looking to slap this into a cabinet set up, not those looking for some quick games of Golden Tee when the need arises.

With its sharp look, wonderful functionality, and ease of use, the Tankstick is the way to experience arcade games outside of their original cabinets. With other attachments for the Dreamcast, Xbox, PS2, PS3, and GameCube, it opens up even a larger realm of games to choose from.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for His current passion project is the technically minded You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.