"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy", at least that's what Jack Torrance (Nicholson) in "The Shining" told us. What he was trying to say is that we all need a break from the usual grind every now and then. Even here at HotHardware, where we're usually knee-deep in testing motherboards, video cards, and the like, once in a while something comes along that really grabs our attention, even if it is a little bit off of the usual radar. We were actually a bit excited when we were asked to review the X-Arcade Joystick and we thought that you, our faithful readers, would be interested as well.
What we've got for our show-and-tell here today is the X-Arcade Dual Joystick from XGAMING, a company that wants to help create the "ultimate gaming experience" for the end user. Now, for some of us older gamers, that "experience" probably revolves around afternoons spent at the local arcade or convenience store, lining up quarters along the edge of an arcade system's marquee or screen. There was a certain "feel" that arcade systems had - the way the knobby joysticks fit into the palm of your hand or the tactile clicking of the buttons (when they worked) that has been lost for the most part with today's modern peripherals. A quick glance at the X-Arcade's box allowed us a peek at the controller, which looks almost as if it was ripped from a defunct arcade machine.
The oversized box tells you almost everything you'll need to know. While we will be focusing on the PC for the most part, the X-Arcade joystick is a universal controller, and different adapters can be purchased separately for use with the Sega Dreamcast, Sony Playstation One or Two, Nintendo GameCube, Microsoft XBox, and even a Macintosh (or PC) using a USB connection. This holds true for the future as well, as the XChip technology allows for compatibility with yet-to-be released consoles, say an XBox 2 or Playstation 3, for example. Thus, the cost of the joystick can actually be mitigated by realizing that it can be used in place of multiple controllers for each console.
Out of its box, it's quite possible that the Dual model which we received is just as large as an actual console from an arcade machine, and certainly looks the part. The dimensions come out to roughly 24.25 inches wide, 11.25 inches deep x 7 inches tall, with a hefty weight of just about 12 lbs. There are two joysticks, each accompanied by eight programmable buttons. XGAMING also provides a "SOLO" version of the X-Arcade joystick, which is smaller and obviously a bit cheaper. The package includes a setup manual, serial cable, PC Conversion cable, and a CD-ROM with some of ATARI's greatest hits. You might have noticed that there isn't a driver CD - that's because none are required. No installation, no messy drivers to work with, just plug it in and go.