Getting into the game and our conclusion
Now that we've covered the basics, it's about time we got to actually using the X-Arcade joystick. For the most part, we've got nothing but rave reviews. There's simply no way to compare the playing of some of the arcade oldies with the X-Arcade to any other joystick we have come across. A prime example would be the button-smashing in Konami's Track & Field. For the unacquainted, Track & Field consists of a series of track events, where you need to qualify for each event to move on to the next. Bashing on your keyboard is probably the quickest way to find yourself shopping for a new one, and the small buttons on most gamepads offer little hope for your Olympic dreams. The X-Arcade joystick handled Track & Field like a Pro, and we were busy moving along through the events with no complaints. The buttons felt just like they did back on the arcade system, and we never had any concern that the unit couldn't take our speedy button pressing. The buttons are also spaced just right, allowing for perfect placement of our hands. Other games performed admirably, with few exceptions. One of our few complaints appeared to be in games that required four-way controls, such as Ms. Pac-man. We usually had no problems navigating through the mazes, but occasionally we would get locked in place when trying to move quickly from one direction to the next, almost as if we were blocked by the diagonal. Making sure the X-Arcade was selected in the controller list in MAME helped a bit, but we still found a few moments where we didn't feel completely in control. Switching the controller to 4-Way mode, should alleviate this problem, however.
Another major feature not to be overlooked was the simplicity of programming and re-programming the buttons. There are four modes that the joystick can be set at, the first being the default, but the other three are instantly programmable. Using the Mode switch on the back of the unit, simply move it over to the right from one to three times to switch modes. Programming a button is as easy as hitting the previously unused black button on the back, holding down the button you need to map, then hitting the relevant key on the keyboard until the light in the upper right blinks back on. All buttons can be re-mapped, and the configurations are saved automatically. If another game requires a different layout, switch to another mode and repeat the process.
The X-Arcade Dual Joystick is an instant classic. It claims to bring the arcade experience home, and we completely agree. The sturdy construction means you won't have to worry about getting too rough with the controls, especially during a heated battle. In addition, XGAMING includes a lifetime warranty on all parts, even going so far as to pay for shipping for replacement parts or a defective unit. Without getting overly nostalgic here, the X-Arcade joystick made us feel like we were back in the 80's, playing our favorite coin-ops. Everything had that authentic feel to it, from the clickety-clack of the buttons to the throw of the joystick to the solid wood backing. The only thing missing was a coin-slot to complete the illusion. The price of the X-Arcade two-player unit might seem a bit high at $149.99, but this is a joystick that will probably last you for a long time, and can actually be used on all modern consoles as well as the PC or Macintosh.
We're giving the X-Arcade Dual Joystick a '9' on the HotHardware Heat Meter as well as an Editor's Choice award for innovation.
•Authentic Arcade Styling
•Large price-tag for a joystick
•Some problems with 4-way games
• 2-players can be too close for comfort
• Button placement could be a bit better