Whether you grew up in the all-night pizza parlor video arcades of the 1980s or are just looking for an authentic complement to the classic video games on your computer or consoles, the X-Arcade Dual Joystick delivers on the classic American style arcade experience. Resembling the front of most arcade machines you might have seen between 1980 and 1998, albeit with a lot more buttons, this device isn’t trying to give you an edge or deliver on bells and whistles, only to replicate the arcade experience at home. Indeed, this probably ought to be the first part purchased for anyone looking to make their own homemade arcade cabinet.

Featuring two joysticks, each with nine buttons per side as well as labeled player 1 and player 2 start buttons, as well as a mode switch button in the back with four different programmable layouts for on the fly adjustments, the X-Arcade can adapt to almost any classically controlled style game. The ninth button on each side are actually located on the sides of the box in order to replicate the feeling of pinball flippers, which is a very thoughtful touch for those that are interested in digitally playing the silver ball.

The unit itself is somewhat heavy, but that’s a good thing as any arcade operator can tell you that when you put two people at a machine to compete or even cooperate, the machine’s going to take a pounding. The stick is backed by a lifetime warranty, including free shipment of replacement switches, buttons, and sticks if required so you can go under the hood and get it up and running in no time. Each of the buttons depresses with a satisfying click of the microswitch, and use the concave style most popularly found in American arcades. The stick ships with cables to connect to a PC either through PS/2 or USB ports, and adapters are available to use the stick on Wii, Playstation 1, 2, and 3, Xbox, Xbox 360, Gamecube, and Dreamcast.

Personally, I’m not a massive fan of the spacing between buttons or the nearly grid-like arrangement of them, and they can make more complex games like Street Fighter II more difficult until you get accustomed to playing in that style, but like almost all controllers, it becomes second nature after a while. I also dislike the fact that the controller basically functions as an alternate keyboard. Obviously, this makes mapping controls in games and emulators a snap, but in less than the first hour of inactivity, I had set it on the floor next to my PC and while typing my foot wound up pushing a couple buttons down and put out some extra letters and numbers I had to delete while typing.

Bottom Line: The X-Arcade Dual Joystick is a really great way to sit down and play some classic or simple games with a buddy, loved one, or child. You might be shoulder to shoulder at times, but that’s how it always felt while playing in the arcade. It may be a little primitive in terms of execution and design, but like any retro-themed peripheral, that tends to be the point.

Editor’s Rating

Rating: ★★★★½

Excellent

Pros:

  • Perfect arcade feel for two players, right out of the box
  • Compatible immediately with any PC, and can be added on to work with most major consoles of the past two generations
  • Sturdy construction backed by a lifetime guarantee

Cons:

  • Tight spacing between joysticks and buttons means you better like getting cozy with your Player 2
  • Heavy box means that designated desk space or similar area is required to keep the stick from bouncing between two laps
  • Keyboard mapping means leaving the joystick plugged in may result in unwanted keystrokes when nudged

The X-Arcade Dual Joystick is available from ThinkGeek for $99.99.



Michael Radon

 
Born in the Midwest, living in the Southwest, Michael Radon grew up wanting to make video games for a living before finding his calling as a writer. Though he often heads out on spur-of-the-moment adventures with little to no preparation, he's just as sure to remember his toothbrush as he is at least two portable consoles, a laptop and five to ten games on his person at all times just for those lulls in the action where he can squeeze in a few levels of gaming.