Jump to content
IGNORED

Joysticks, which ones do you like and why? My 2 Cents.


RamrodHare
 Share

Recommended Posts

So, I've been watching review videos and reading about quite a few different joysticks that were/are availible for the 2600. Different people have different opinions on what they like and why they like them. I'm sure threads like this have been done over and over, but some people may have gotten different controllers or changed their mind since the last time a similar thread was started. What I'd like to gain out of this is a little bit of insight into "WHY" people like one joystick/controller over another, so that I, or others, can possibly put that information to use while searching for our own "favorite" controller. I know nostalgia plays a large role in some people's decision and that's fine, but for this thread, I'd rather we all stick to the actual features and design of the joystick. In other words, the things that make it work well.

 

I'll start with the controllers I have in my possession right now.

 

The Atari CX-40. In standard form (no upgraded parts), It seems to have a little more play in the joystick than I'd like. Also, it really doesn't have a definitive stop position. I'm sure I push it much harder than I need to, because there's no feedback telling me the switch has been activated. These things have held up to 30 or more years of abuse and most of them still work. Anytime your hand wears off the factory paint and the joystick is still working, that's a win in my book.

 

The Atari Flashback Joystick. This one had me on the fence for a while. I liked the feel of it more than I liked the CX-40, because there was just a bit of feedback letting me know I had activated the switch. Also it took less force to move, but at the same time, it had more play in it. I used this joystick for a while though. The build quality isn't great, but I feel like these would last if you don't get carried away and break the stick off.

 

Epyx 500XJ. This one had good reviews from a lot of people, but I'm not sure I will ever be one of them. It does have nice clicky switches and almost no play in the stick. The issue I have with it, is the placement of the fire button and the size of the controller. The fire button feels awkward. This may be due to the placement, I'm more used to using my thumb, or it could be that I have a hard time holding it well due to it's size/shape. I can't knock it's build at all. The set I have are in great condition despite their age and how many hands they passed through before I ended up with them.

 

The Wico, Command Control (Bat). This is another one with a lot of people standing behind it. It's well built and has the added feature of using the standard fire button on the base, or switching to the one on the end of the joystick. I really wanted this one to be my favorite, but after using it, I just wasn't sure about it. I felt like it was too large overall and the throw of the stick was more than I wanted. It just ended up feeling a little clumsy and awkward. If you like actual arcade controls, this one has that feel. I just don't think it has the precision I want when playing.

 

Modified NES gamepad (For 2600 or 7800 with both fire buttons working). This was meant to be the go to controller for me, since it has a nice precise directional pad and very responsive fire buttons. In the end, it turned out that it wasn't as comfortable as I remember. I hadn't held one in over 20 years, so my memory of it being comfortable were either wrong or my hands are just too "OLD" to use it. I even went so far as to add a tiny ball top joystick to the D-pad to see if it would be easier on my thumb, but it didn't help.

 

Modified SMS gamepad (again, 2600 or 7800). Another try at making a gamepad that I remembered as being comfortable to use. The D-pad is really sloppy on the Sega Master System controller. There's no precision at all with it. The basic shape is the same as the NES, so it just didn't agree with my hands.

 

7800 Prolines. I wasn't a fan of them at first, but they started to grow on me. I shortened the sticks on them, which lessened the throw. This was a big improvement. The stick and the buttons have a nice tactile click to them, so you don't just keep forcing it like on the factory CX-40s. I haven't used these for extended periods of time, so I'm not sure if they would cause my hands to cramp up, but I'm guessing they would, just because of the odd shape and the fact that my hands aren't happy with NES or SMS controllers anymore.

 

There's not a lot to say about the paddle controllers really. I guess if I were to make one point about them, it would be that the "Gemini" paddles are stiffer feeling than the Atari ones. That means for me, the Gemini ones are more precise, but there are many factors to this. My Atari paddles may be more worn or the pots may be different in the Geminis. My advice on the paddles is, don't pay any attention to my experience with the ones I have, since it may not apply to all the paddles out there.

 

The driving controllers and keypads I have, haven't seen much use, so I don't even have an opinion on them.

 

Now, Here is what I consider to be my favorite Joystick/controller, right now...

It's the CX-40, but not in it's factory state. I'm talking about the ones I've upgraded with the Best Electronics Gold PCBs, new fire buttons, springs,boot rings, boots, and new handles. I don't want to sound like an advertisement for Best Electronics, but it's hard not to, if you've tried out their Gold PCBs. However, i didn't buy the other parts from them, since I found a much better price for upgrade kits (everything but the PCB) on eBay. I actually had a small issue with one of the Gold PCBs, but it was easily corrected with a couple of emails to Brad (Best Electronics), It's not even important enough to go into detail about, since it was probably a one in a million issue.. What makes the new PCBs so nice, are the new domes. The old ones didn't click and were kind of mushy feeling to me. Of course they were old, but I don't think the original dome contacts were much better new.The PCB feels more substantial and there's a nice thick plastic layer that keeps the domes from "walking", then a thinner protective layer on top that adheres to everything, making a nice enclosed set of switches. As far as the gold coating goes, I know it's important, but it has nothing to do with how the controls respond. Once I had the joysticks reassembled with the new parts, there is almost zero play in the stick. There's a nice click in each direction and when you press the fire button. It's extremely easy to tell that you've activated the switches. I'm sure these are better than they ever were, even when brand new. I have around $40 total in the two joysticks, not counting the initial cost, which was basically zero, since they came with my 2600. If you have an old set, I feel it's worth $40 to rebuild them, but I don't know if I'd feel as good if I spent much more than that. Keep in mind, I'm on a fixed income, so $40 to me is equal to $100 for most people. Best Electronics sells NEW CX-40s with upgraded PCBs, but I couldn't justify spending that much when I already had a pair of them here that I could rebuild for less money.

 

Now, that's my opinions on joysticks and controllers. I want to hear from other members here. I'm always willing to try a different joystick if it's something I can hunt down for a reasonable price. :)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have the Best Electronics gold joysticks. They are good joysticks. However, I play a lot of 7800 Centipede and the CX-40s just don't respond fast enough for that game. Therefore, I use Tac-2 joysticks. The response is better than the CX-40 and they are just good all around joysticks for the Atari 2600.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll second the Competition Pro as the best of the older joysticks. The Wico bat is good, too. For 7800, I exclusively use UberArcade's custom joystick. I couldn't be happier with it.

 

Edladdin Super Twin 78 has that beat. Not sure why the default button orientation is north-south though. I made sure that the buttons were east-west when I ordered mine. I used the Super Twin 78 to play 2600 games that require a second button like Stargate.

 

14160861548702059738775.jpeg

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with your reviews of the Epyx and Wico sticks for the same reasons. The Tac-2 is ok but I don't find it significantly better than the CX-40. I haven't rebuilt any of my CX-40's though it is tempting. I did modify one with tactile micro switches to replace the dome switches which worked pretty well. Overall I use my Atari Pro CX-1000 stick the most. I don't have to worry about breaking it and the micro-switches give nice feedback. The throw on the stick is nice too.

Some folks find using different sticks for different games helps. For games that require button mashing like Boxing etc. the Epyx is hard to use (carpel tunnel nightmare).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeap...by far my favorites to use are the Epyx 500xj as I really how it fits in my hand for playing. Using my index finger for the fire is a bit odd at first but no different than using the 7800 painline controllers are. Only without the hand cramping. I also didn't know how much I would like the Tac-2 controllers until I actually found one and used it. They are built like tanks and work every bit as good as the originals only with I feel even better response. The slik - stik is nice, but the construction just doesn't match up to the Tac-2. So my overall favorites would be the Tac-2 controllers. I grab them anytime I see them for a good price! I've got about 4 or 5 of them now on hand I think?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My go-to controller on the 2600 or 7800 is the 4/8 version of the Supreme 78:

* dual button pairs allow switching which hand is on the stick

* switchable restrictor plate allows easy changing between 4 and 8 way

* the case is so heavy that I'm not fighting to hold on to the controller, so a light touch on the controls

 

These days I can only use the old hand-helds for a few minutes on high intensity games and shooters. My hands just can't take it anymore. ☹️

 

All of that said, the CX-40 will always have a special place in my heart.

post-40253-0-86822800-1498169149_thumb.jpg

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

With the PointMaster stick I was unbeatable in Defender. I'd sit their with my stick pointing at all angles and sometimes contorting so much I was holding it upside down. And then I would find myself upside down and sideways under the chair itself. Spinning, gyrating, jerking, stuck in a hi-energy fuge that only increases in intensity.

 

I've said it before, and I'm gonna say it again! My PointMaster Joystick grants me papal dispensation from the laws of physics when playing 8-bit Defender. With this joystick my ship is capable of reaching super collider velocities on every level. When I show up to a competition there IS no competition. My buddies know not to even challenge me with this controller.

 

I like it because it has a linear resistance force that suddenly clicks the membrane button. Unlike the Wicos which have these sloshy and rubbery leaf-springs. Might be built well and look the part, but you have no snap-feedback. Once you know you sent the command down the wires, you can move on to the next movement.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a kid I wore out more than one CX-40 until I spent some hard-earned cash and bought a WICO Command Control. That was my go-to stick for the rest of my 8-bit days at the time, along with a WICO Trackball (I know, not a "real" Trak-ball!) which made Missile Command and Centipede at least FEEL more authentic, even though control was still basically like using a joystick.

 

As an adult hobbyist, my preferences are the aforementioned TAC-2 (had I had one of these as a kid I'd have been in heaven!), a WICO Command Control, a CX-40 and then the FB CX-40 knockoffs from my FB2. I have 3 PainLine controllers but don't use if I can avoid it; I have one of Ed's Seagull 78 adapters and use a Genesis pad for anything requiring two buttons. Someday I want one of his twin stick controllers but that'll be awhile, unfortunately.

 

And of course, these days I also have a CX-22 for those wonderful TB hacks and rewrites available in modern times, as well as A8 Missile Command.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been using the Epyx 500xj for quite a while now for 2600 and Colecovision games. Yes, I agree that some games requiring lots of button presses aren't well suited, but I play a lot of maze games.

 

Lately, most of my 2600 playing has been on the FBP, even though I really don't like using a d pad as much as a joystick...quite a few games are really frustrating that way, imo.

 

I'm most likely going to upgrade to one of edladdins controllers soon for both 2600 and Colecovision (a big change for me is I'm going to need to make more table space in my playpen, for that to work, including spousal negotiation...so the cost of my new joystick will likely include some expensive dinners or something).

 

Forgot to mention, I have a few wico sticks, all of which seem very solidly built, but I just don't like the way they feel...

Edited by fiddlepaddle
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tac-2 joysticks are getting mentioned a LOT. :-o

That makes me want to grab at least one of them to try out. The thing I'm noticing though, is the price. It's almost up there with the Competition Pros. However, the Suncom Starfighters are much cheaper. Does anyone here have both? If so is the Starfighter as good as the TAC-2? Do you know if the internals for the joystick are the same? I'm also considering the Slik Stik, since I can easily source the necessary parts to bring it back to "new" condition for a lot less than I can grab a Tac-2 for.

 

With the PointMaster ...

OK, your post was , well, interesting. :-D I haven't heard anyone say much about the Pointmaster, but if you are being serious about thinking it's that good, then I'm tempted to get one to try out. The price on them is extremely cheap, even for new old stock. So, if you are kidding, tell me now, so I don't waste my money on one. :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The PointMaster is a cheaply built unit. It's rather light but it fit my gaming style though. I liked flicking the base one way, and the stick the other way. The fire button has minimum throw or push distance. The stick is cheaply built so keep that in mind. Joysticks are a highly personal thing.

 

People dislike the scissors laptop keyboards for gaming, I love 'em!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The PointMaster is a cheaply built unit. It's rather light but it fit my gaming style though. I liked flicking the base one way, and the stick the other way. The fire button has minimum throw or push distance. The stick is cheaply built so keep that in mind. Joysticks are a highly personal thing.

 

People dislike the scissors laptop keyboards for gaming, I love 'em!

I knew it was cheaply built, hence the low prices on them now. My goal is to find the best all around joystick for me. I figure that if enough people like one certain stick, it increases the chance of that same one working well for me. All the aftermarket ones I have tried so far, I tried because I got them for almost nothing, so there's no buyer's remorse. I can grab a nice Pointmaster for $10, so even if it was horrible, I wouldn't feel too bad about it, but I think I'll hold off on that, since that would be $10 less I'd have to put toward better joysticks. :P

 

I think based on the majority so far, a Tac-2 is probably the way I should go, if I can find them for a decent price. I'm really hoping someone who knows about the Tac-2 and the Starfighter will jump in and tell me the joystick is just as good on one as it is on the other. If that happens, I'll be able to grab 2 Starfighter joysticks for the price of one Tac-2 and have them in hand in 3 days. If I have to hold out for the Tac-2, that's fine. Of course, I could go with what already works for me and pick up a set of CX-40s cheap and then put the Gold PCBs in them... It's a tough decision. :?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been using my Wico Bat since the 80s. In the 90s I bought a few more "just in case," but I've never needed any of them. Mine just keeps going and going and going...

 

As far as the size, it's perfect for my hands. And I like the throw, etc.

 

Of course, I've been using it so long that a lot of my preference for it probably has to do with familiarity and habituation. At this point, using anything else to play a compatible system feels wrong.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Epyx 500XJ is pretty decent, but I've been pretty fully converted to using a Sega Genesis pad. It has a good size and nice curves to hold on to, without sharp corners; though the edges on the D-pad start to irritate my thumb a bit if I'm playing something particularly intense like Millipede.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...