Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The X-Arcade Arrives

Rarely do I race home for something left on my doorstep, so last evening was exciting. My X-Arcade controller arrived (read my post from yesterday if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

My kids and I were pretty excited to crack it open.

It was well-packed.Link

The model I ordered is called the Dual Joystick. It lets two players go at it head-to-head or take turns, depending on the game. It came with a manual, two cables, and a CD-ROM with six classic Williams arcade games. Free games... a valiant effort, but surely a drop in the bucket compared to the sickeningly huge game assortment I already have via MAME on my PC. Yes, insert maniacal, Simon Bar Sinister-esque laughter here.

Me and my X-Arcade

The Dual Joystick is about 25 inches wide. And just like I figured, it is solid, weighing in at a meaty 12 lbs. The weight in conjunction with rubber feet on the bottom reduce the level of slippage to a degree but still, if you buy this and plan on gettin' silly with it, you would be wise to secure it to a table surface or better yet, mount it to a cabinet, because otherwise it does move on you.

Set-up is pretty straightforward; you take your keyboard cable and plug it into the back of the X-Arcade, then connect a secondary cable (included) from the the X-Arcade to the keyboard jack on your PC. Start up MAME and select "X-Arcade" from a list of controller options. The company even offers a test utility program so you can make sure everything works.

Okay, so how does it perform? Well let me tell you, David Cop-A-Feel would be impressed, because this shit is like magic! The joystick and the buttons feel -- and even click -- like the ones found on commercial-grade arcade machines. And the beautiful thing is, all of the control configurations were in place for every single game I tested. From Mr. Do! and Asteroids to Robotron and Crazy Climber, the controls worked 100% flawlessly!

One great thing about the whole game emulation thing is, you don't need to be super computer savvy to pull it off (trust me, I'm proof of that, haha) Another nice thing is, you can cobble together a workable setup with very little money. I'm currently running MAME on an old-ass Dell (circa 1998) with a Celeron limping along at 700MHz. And since there's no need for a lot of processing power to run most of the older game ROMs, I'm in business. You can pick up an old PC for around $25 or $30 at garage sales and thrift stores. An old monitor will set you back another $50. Add the Dual Joystick for about $140 and you have yourself a dy-no-mite, J.J. Walker-approved GOOD time for less than three hundred bucks!

I'm gonna be blunt. I don't care if you're freaking Rain Man and can count 647 toothpicks when they fall on the floor, you will not be able to tell the difference between these controls and the ones found in the arcade. You simply will not. So, if you are even remotely repping your old-school gaming roots... if you have a single ounce of retro gaming respect inside your spoiled, X-Box-360-graphics-lovin' soul... you need to go to the official website and order one of these as soon as possible.

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1 comment:

  1. I have had one for about 6 months and I agree with you, it truly is a killer piece of kit! You can bang on it for hours at a time and it just takes the punishment like a champ!