Archive for the Peripherals Category

RetroBit RetroPort Review

Posted in Hardware, NES, Peripherals, Retro Gaming, Reviews, SNES on June 5, 2012 by satoshimatrix

We’ve been seeing a lot of NES clones on the market these days. Given the age of the NES hardware, many people have been turning to new clone hardware solutions to play their old favorites. There is certainly no shortage of choice – there are literally hundreds, if not thousands – of these devices that all play 8-bit Nintendo cartridges.

But what if you have an SNES or SNES clone and don’t have desire to buy a standalone clone unit to play NES games? It might seem strange but now, RetroBit has you covered with their standalone RetroPort for Super Famicom, Super NES or Super Famiclone systems that will allow you to do something never thought possible – play your NES games right on your SNES!

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RetroPorts from Retrozone Review

Posted in Gamecube, Hardware, NES, Peripherals, SNES on December 22, 2010 by satoshimatrix

Add NES/SNES ports to your Gamecube/Wii!

I love controller adapters that allow you to use dedicated controllers from old systems on completely different systems. I own at least a dozen such adapters, and some work better than others. I’ve been asked about Retrozone’s NES and SNES RetroPorts and feel its due time to give them each a proper, in depth review.
Retrozone has been selling what they called “Retroports” for several years now. Each RetroPort is advertised as allowing you to use either an NES or SNES controller on your Wii and play Virtual Console games “the way they were originally designed.” How well do they work? Any shortcomings? Let’s find out.

Overview

Despite claims that these adapters are for the Nintendo Wii, they really are just Gamecube adapters that map the NES/SNES controls to those of Gamecube buttons. As such, these adapters are 100% Gamecube compatible and also function on the Nintendo Wii via the Gamecube ports atop the system.

Build Quality

Both RetroPorts come in a beautiful package that shows off the product really well – not bad for a single sourced products like this.

Once out of the package, you’ll quickly grow to appreciate that these adapters are among the best out there in terms of built quality. No visible screws pleasing colors and durable plastics. SNES controllers slide easily into the port, but I found it somewhat difficult to correctly insert NES pads into its Retroport. In order to do it correctly you need to do it slowly and make sure it goes in flush; its a very tight connection. You may even wish to simply insert a controller and leave it plugged in permanently.

Button Mappings

the mappings for the SNES to Gamecube are as such:

SNES to GC

+pad — +pad
Start — Start
A —- A
B —- B
Y —- Y
X —- X
L —- L
R —- R
Select — Z

and NES to GC

+pad — +pad
Start — Start
Select —- Z
B —- B
A —- A

Performance

Both RetroPorts actually do their jobs exceedingly well – there is absolutely no lag when playing games using either adapter with original controllers. Every controller I’ve tried also works with it, front he NES-004 boxy pad to the NES Dogbone and the Advantage joystick, even third party controllers work! Same deal with the SNES – the RetroPorts allow all controllers for your old Nintendo systems to be used.

There are even some Gamecube and Wii games that greatly benefit from solid digital controllers. For instance, most people find Megaman Anniversary Collection for Gamecube to be utterly unplayable due to Atomic Planet “reversing” the controls – B now jumps while A shoots. When using a SNES RetroPort, you can slightly fix this problem. Anniversary Collection also maps Y to be turbo fire and X to be auto-slide. Since the button placement of the SNES controller puts Y where the Gamecube’s B button is, you now have natural reach to auto fire and standard jumping, making at least Megaman 1-6 playable.

Other examples where the SNES pad helps are in fighting games such as Soul Calibur II. Not only does the SNES pad fit the game beautifully, it also allows you to remap controls to be whatever you like. You can even use the NES controller to play Soul Calibur II for lulz.

As I see, here’s a short list of games that strongly benefit from these adapters:

NES RetroPort:

  • Any Wii Virtual Console NES game that doesn’t require select. Examples include Super Mario Bros. 3, Punch-Out!!, Megaman 2, Wario’s Woods, etc.
  • Any Wii Virtual Console game for Commodore 64, Sega Master System, or TurboGrafix-16, and a few early Genesis games such as any of the Sonic games.
  • Gamecube’s Gameboy Player playing any Gameboy or Gameboy Color game that doesn’t require select. Examples include Super Mario Land, Tetris, Megaman IV, Pokemon, Shantae, etc.
  • Sonic Mega Collection (Gamecube)
  • Sonic Gems Collection (Gamecube)
  • Nintendo Puzzle Collection (Gamecube)

SNES RetroPort:

  • Any Wii Virtual Console SNES game that deosn’t require select. Examples include F-Zero, The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong Country 2, F-Zero, Axelay, Zombies ate my Neighbors, etc.
  • Any Wii Virtual Console Genesis and Neo-Geo games, as well as all arcade games that support Gamecube input
  • The Legend of Zelda Collection (Gamecube)
  • Soul Calibur II (Gamecube)
  • Capcom Vs SNK 2 EO (Gamecube)
  • Megaman Network Transmission (Gamecube)
  • Megaman X Collection (Gamecube)
  • Megaman Anniversary Collection (Gamecube)
  • Alien Hominod (Gamecube)
  • Namco Museum 50th Anniversary (Gamecube)
  • Resident Evil  (Gamecube)
  • Resident Evil 2 (Gamecube)
  • Resident Evil 3 (Gamecube)
  • Meramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii)
  • Castle of Shikigami 3 (Wii)
  • Cave Story (Wiiware)

Availability & Price

Each of the Retroports are exclusively available via Retrozone for $19 each. Remember, their site is retrousb.com, not retrozone.com. They have a great payment system are are trusthworthy. Shipping might be a bit high if you’ve not in North America, but these adapters are well worth the extra cost of shipping.
Overall

Good

  • Well built and durable
  • Excellent button mapping for the SNES controller
  • Both controller adapters are lag-free and completely responsive
  • A good number of supporting games makes these adapters a good investment

Bad

  • These are Gamecube adapters, not Wii; this is misleading on Retrozone’s part
  • They are sold separately from each other
  • NES RetroPort maps Select to Z rather than Select, meaning Select cannot be accessed with this controller
  • $19 plus shipping is somewhat pricey as these are barebones adapters

Conclusion

All in all, Retrozone’s RetroPorts do their jobs exceedingly well and greatly add to the playability of a number of games. I would even argue using a Genuine SNES controller is a better choice over the Wii Classic controller! The lack of using either controller’s Select button to play Virtual Console games does sort of suck, but the pros greatly outweigh the cons and seeing as these are Gamecube adapters, not Wii adapters, there’s nothing Retrozone could have done about this.

One final note is how the RetroPorts compare to the 4-in-1 controller adapter you might find on ebay that also allows you to use Genesis and N64 controllers on your Gamecube/Wii. I don’t personally own one of these, but I’ve noticed all the problems the RetroPorts avoid: the 4-in-one is laggly, built cheaply, and it doesn’t even get the button mappings correct. Avoid and pick up the RetroPorts. You’ll be glad you did.

NES Power Pak Review

Posted in NES, Peripherals, Retro Gaming, Reviews on August 23, 2010 by satoshimatrix

 

Ever wish you could have every NES game? Now you can

 

Stretching all the way back to the mid to late 1980s, Famicom gamers have had the opportunity to buy unlicensed multi-carts rather than official games. The draw to these carts is obvious – they cost a fraction of the price and often contain unique, rare or modified games, or it might simply be that they contain many good games in one place without forcing the player to constantly swap out cartridges.

However, multi-carts also have their share of flaws. More often than not, the games they contain are among the Famicom’s most simplistic. Multi-carts are infamous for the likelihood of containing crappy games as well. Worse, carts that claim to have dozens, often hundreds of games really only ever house a small fraction of that with the small number of real games just repeating over and over. But the biggest problem with any multi-cart is that no matter what games it contains, it will never replace your entire collection because they never contain battery back ups or large games and because the individual gamer has no say in which games are on any one multi-cart.

Now all of that has changed thanks to an ingenious device known as the Power Pak. Simply put, the Power Pak is a NES cartridge dev tool that can convert FAT flash memory from a standard compact flash card into 6502 assembly code, allowing it to read .nes files. The Power Pak is fitted with virtual mappers, allowing it to read and play theoretically every NES or Famicom game ever programmed.

Available exclusively via RetroZone at retrousb.com, the Power Pak is the answer to all the problems with current multi-carts for both the NES and Famicom. Designed to eliminate the wear and tear that occurs to the aging 72 pin connector of the NES through constant use, the Power Pak is the ultimate companion to any NES or Famicom.

This is my first review of this nature, so bare with me as I hammer out a hardware review format.

Design

The Powerpak is housed in an attractive transparent red NES shell with a port for a Compact Flash card in the top right corner. Once inserted, the Compact Flash card lays flush with the top of the cartridge.

The Powerpak imploys a brilliant yet simple latch mechanism that manually slides up and then allows the user to push in to eject the CF card effortlessly.

Although dark red transparent and housing a CF card port, the shell of the Powerpak mirrors a standard Nintendo cartridge perfectly. It will fit in perfectly on a shelf of other NES cartridges.

The only negative point of the Powerpak is that it comes in an NES 72-pin cartridge only; there is no 60-pin Famicom design. Therefore, to play it on a Famicom you need to use an adapter and have the large cartridge face backwards as per usual for NES games on a Famicom.

Durability

While I  wouldn’t recommend treating the Powerpak with excessive abuse, the cartridge is about on par with the standard durability of original gray NES game cartridges. The Powerpak should be able to put up with years of use and wear without issue. As we all know, NES games are tough.

Functionality

The Powerpak works like a dream; all you need to do is install the system software onto a CF card and then load up your favorite .nes ROMs. Currently, the Powerpak supports nearly every NES mapper there is with the notable exception of MMC5. This means there are well over one thousand fully playable, bug free games with more arriving with future firmware updates.

As the Powerpak reads .nes files, the entire library of NES, Famicom, and Famicom Disk System games are theoretically playable on any NES or Famicom. The Powerpak will even read PAL games on an NTSC NES or Famicom, although the added speed of the processor will make the PAL NES games about 12% faster than they should be.

Another welcome feature is the ability to load and save RAM data via flash memory for games that originally saved with a battery, such as the Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy. All you need to do is create a dummy save file for each game, rename it to the name of the game, and then save to it when prompted.

This little bit of extra work ensures that you will never lose your save data to a dead battery of the NES’s notorious saving error that occurs when you turn off the system improperly.

When you load up the Powerpak, you’re greeted to a simple to use menu interface to select the game you wish to play, just like any Multicart. Once a game is selected, you can also choose to load RAM save data and input up to five Gamegenie codes. That’s two more codes than even the real NES Gamegenie!

Since the Powerpak has the ability to reduce the entire NES library to a mere menu to select hundreds of games from, it brings up the morally gray issue of emulation.

Is the Powerpak a  tool of evil piracy or is it the ultimate collectors tool and the holy grail NES games have been looking for? Depending on who uses it, it’s both.

While you can load up all the Mario and other Nintendo titles up on it and play them for free, most of the games you can play on the Powerpak were developed by companies that no longer exist, or at the very least, are no longer making any profit from their 20+ year old games.

I myself have a large collection of NES, Famicom and FDS games, and have actually used the Powerpak to demo games before buying the cartridges. I’ve even used this process before buying a few NES games on the Wii’s Virtual Console.

Ultimately, the choice of how one uses the Powerpak should be left to each individual gamer.

In addition to running games, the Powerpak can also read .nsf (Nintendo Sound Format) files naively. NSF files  are the raw data the 6502 processor of the NES uses to produce noise. With the ability to run nearly any nsf, composers can test out their work in Famitracker (an NSF composer for modern computers) and everyday chiptune fans can enjoy their favorite NES tunes without pressing a button sequence to load up the hidden sound test in their favorite NES game.

Value

At a base price of $135 USD plus shipping, the Powerpak isn’t exactly pocket change for most gamers. However, from an economical standpoint, the Powerpak is quite a good deal considering all it offers. If you’re an NES gamer, chances are you have dozens if not hundreds of NES games you’ve bought over the years. What if you’re an NES owner also interested in Famicom games? FDS? Homebrew and game reproductions? You see what I’m getting at?

Just how much money has your collection cost you to build? Is it even complete? For the price of only just a few rare games you can own everything. The Powerpak also gives the ability for owners of sealed games to play the games they’ve been thinking of opening. Since it also can run nearly every 8-bit Nintendo game ever made, it has the benefit of severely reducing cartridge pin connector wear and tear, saving you money and the hassle of replacing 72 pin connectors.

Overall

The Powerpak is a great value, offers endless variety and is a good long term investment as the stream of NES homebrew games, worthwhile hacks and even fan translations continues to flow.

While the Powerpak doesn’t do anything a decent PC emulator won’t, the reason why one would buy it is the same as any flash device – to be able to experience everything the original hardware had to offer, on the original hardware.

The Powerpak is the best thing to happen to the NES in years. Step aside Mario. The NES has a new killer app.

Mayflash NES/SNES to Wii Adapter Overview

Posted in NES, Peripherals on April 20, 2010 by satoshimatrix

This generation of consoles has made retro new again. Brand new retro-style games like Megaman 9 and 10 are popping up and it’s almost as if the NES era is getting a renaissance. The only problem is that playing them with modern controllers pulls one out of the experience.

Late last year Mayflash, my new favorite Chinese peripheral manufacturer,  released an interesting controller adapter for the Wii. With this adapter, one could use NES or SNES controllers on the Wii by connecting them to the adapter and then the adapter to a Wiimote, essentially fooling the Wii into thinking these older controllers are in fact the Wii Classic Controller. This means all those classic games can be played with a real classic controller.

Mayflash package design has come a long way in the past few years. No Engrish and pretty good graphic design!

Getting the adapter to work is simple and easy – Just plug in the adapter to the Wiimote and your classic console controllers into the adapter.

While this all sounds great to most of the people who read this, some of you might be asking yourself “Why would I want to use an NES controller on the Wii? Those things are so uncomfertable!” or “Why bother with an SNES pad when there’s the Wii classic controller?”

In both cases, it’s really a matter of preference and nostalgia. Holding the Wiimote on its side emulates the style of control that the NES provided. Holding a real NES controller is a lot more satisfying. If you didn’t grow up with an NES, getting used to the brick design can be difficult. The Wii Classic Controller is basically a dumbed down copy of the SNES pad with two thumbsticks attached. Most games that support the Classic controller do not need either thumbstick and they just sort of get in the way. Most retro gamers agree that the original SNES controller is one of the best ever designed, so why wouldn’t you want to use it on the Wii?

Unlike many prior mods that allow you to use an NES or SNES controller on the Wii, this adapter doesn’t require you to padhack your old controllers. They can still be used on your classic consoles and the Wii as well.

This may sound all too good to be true, and unfortunately there is a snag. While original Nintendo made SNES controllers work on the adapter without a hitch, Mayflash designed their adapter with a DB-9 pin connector for NES controller functionality. In Asia, most NES-clones (commonly called Famiclones) use this type of controller connector.

Because the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) used a proprietary 7-pin controller plug,  DB-9 Famiclone controllers cannot be plugged into the real hardware and 7-pin NES controllers cannot be plugged into Famiclones.

Thus, out of the box you can only plug in SNES controllers and DB-9 Famiclone controllers.

Connected are a Handy FamiEight Famiclone DB9 controller (left) and an OEM SNES controller (right)

This may sound like no big deal as Famiclone controllers are dime a dozen and cost even less than that. Many also feature build in turbo fire.

However, Famiclone controllers are made as cheaply as possible in China, and are thus universally of poor quality. Using real controllers is much more preferable.

Being unsatisfied with just using my Famiclone controllers on the Wii, I set out to take my Mayflash NES/SNES to Wii adapter apart and rebuild it with actual NES functionality.

In my next post I’ll detail how you can do what I have done: modify your Mayflash NES/SNES to Wii Adapter with a fully operational NES 7pin controller, allowing you to use your classic NES gear on your next-gen system.

Stay tuned.

Mayflash Hori Mod

Posted in Mod Projects, Peripherals, Tutorials on January 6, 2010 by satoshimatrix

At this point, I have a lot of console arcade sticks. From the awful Naki-Tec Mini stick to the fantastic Hori Real Arcade Pro, I’ve got arcade sticks for most of the consoles I own.

The Hori Real Arcade Pro 2

As much praise as I heap on the PS2 RAP2, it has one main problem: the stick is simply too big and to fit comfortably in my lap. It’s great if you set up a table or if were to be mounted into a custom arcade cabinet, but the majority of the time I want to use an arcade stick, I simply want it to rest in my lap without any additional setup required. My Sanwa modded Hori EX2 for the 360 fits that bill perfectly, but since I also still play my PS2 and Xbox 1 a lot, I started to look for an arcade stick for that system of around the size of the EX2.

After hearing really good things about the Mayflash arcade stick, I asked a friend for one for Christmas. The Mayflash Arcade Stick is a standard home arcade stick with an 8-button layout and connections for PS2 and PS3 & PC USB.

The Mayflash PS2/PC Stick

The stock components are pretty awful on the Mayflash. Not the
absolute worst, but they do have that cheap feel and design. The arcade stick shaft and balltop are one piece and cannot be separated!

The buttons, rather than be cheap microswitches, are even cheaper and are simply pushbuttons, meaning an entire PCB is below the eight main buttons.

The Mayflash is the perfect size to fit in your lap, has a great curved to the human hand 8-button layout and is lightweight but sturdy. It even works with my PS2-to-Xbox adapter! The only problem with it is the feel and response of the stock parts.

One of the nice bonuses of my Hori EX2 to Sanwa mod upgrade is that since I had to remove theEX2’s stock parts to replace them with the improved sanwa parts, I of course was left with the Hori parts that were in the EX2. Since I had those parts onhand and although they are not as good as sanwa parts, the hori components are still much much better than the Mayflash stock components.

Luckily for me, both the Hori EX2 buttons and the Mayflash stock buttons both are the same non-standard size of 28mm instead of the usual 30mm. This meant that the Hori buttons could simply be dropped in without any modding at all. Sweet!

The one issue was that the EX2 was a six button stick while the Mayflash is a full eight button stick. Without two additional buttons onhand, I was forced to keep two of the eight Mayflash buttons in place.

This presented a bit of a problem internally. The six EX2 stock buttons are microswitch buttons that send electrical signals via wires to the main PCB. In contrast, the Mayflash stock buttons are push buttons, the same kind as found on a normal sized controller. These buttons work by pressing against a PCB and sending a signal along a trace.
Therefore, inside of the Mayflash stick behind the eight stock push buttons was an oversized daughter PCB. That PCB would collect the signals from each button and relay them to the main PCB via a small connector.

the board for the eight buttons

Because I planned on using the Hori microswitch buttons, the PCB was both unnecessary and simply in the way. But before I could cut it and scrap it, I realized that I would still need at least part of it since I intended to use two of the eight stock Mayflash buttons.

By simply using a knife, I was able to cut away the PCB that would sit behind the last two Mayflash buttons. Lucikly for me, on both ends of the PCB were points where it was screwed into place by default design, so I didn’t even have to worry about keeping it in place somehow. All it took was exposing small trace points for the PCB and soldering to it to convert it and its push buttons into pseudo microswitch buttons. Hurrah!

Again luckily for me, the old stock eight button PCB for the pushbuttons was held in place by screws, and the part of the PCB I needed to keep has a hole for one of those screws. One screw alone is enough to hold the small amount of the main PCB that remains, so once more no glue was required.

The cut PCB and two Mayflash buttons remain while the other six Hori buttons snap into place

Now that all the buttons were in place, I needed to figure out how to connect them to the actual PCB. The mayflash daughter PCB had all the buttons interconnected and were thus common ground. For my purposes, without that PCB I would need to connect all the buttons together with wire, a process called “daisy chaining”.

The most challenging aspect of the project was figuring out which inputs on the PCB controlled what, and where.

After much experimenting, I finally got it down :

With this figured out, I soldered it all in place.

Once everything was in place, it was just a matter of putting the case back on and testing it out. I’m now happy to say that the Mayflash arcade stick with six Hori EX2 buttons works flawlessly!

And we have here the finished stick. Total mod cost: $0

Since the stick itself was a gift and I already had the Hori buttons, this arcade stick cost me a grand total of $0.00 and is almost as good as my godly RAP2. Maybe someday I’ll upgrade the Mayflash once again to full sanwa. In the meantime, happy gaming!

NES to Xbox

Posted in Mod Projects, Peripherals, Tutorials with tags , , on September 19, 2009 by satoshimatrix

Over the years and getting good deals on mixed gaming odd and ends on ebay, I’ve acquired quite a few NES controllers. You know the kind – the iconic boxy less-than-comfortable-yet-so- nostalgic-we-accept-them-anyway ones.

Amongst all my NES controllers I had one that wouldn’t work – its 4021 Control Chip was apparently shot. Being useless to the NES now, I thought of other usages – decoration on my car rear view mirror or maybe on my backpack. Hack it up to work like those NES controller mp3 players we’ve all read about. Or maybe just keep it around for spare parts.

I didn’t like any of these ideas all that much and I really just wished I could use it in some way. It wasn’t long before I got the idea to use it as an interface device with my Xbox 1. To interface the NES controller with anything else would require removing the 4021, and since mine was shot anyway, there would be no loss. For the project I wanted to use a controller that wouldn’t matter, so I purchased a Madcatz controller.

Copied controller make for great hack projects

Copied controller make for great hack projects

When it arrived, the fun began. The first thing you need to do is open that NES controller up – its held together by six small star screws and the back plate easily comes off when the screws are removed.

The stock NES controllers inner beauty

The stock NES controller's inner beauty

In the middle of the PCB is the NES 4021 Control Chip. Mine wasn’t working, but regardless you’ll need to remove it. There are a number of ways you can successfully remove it. First, you could simply cut off the pins and then use a soldering iron to loosen and drop the remaining bits out, you could use a soldering iron and a solder sucker/braid and drop the chip out that way, or you can go overboard and use a heatgun like I did. At the time I did this, I didn’t have a solder sucker yet, so I was unable to use that approach.

If using a heatgun, first wrap the entire PCB in thick plastic – the kind of waterproofing walls, not grocery bag plastic. Then, use a marker to outline a box around the 4021 chip. Remove the PCB and use an knife to cut out a small rectangle. Tape the plastic tightly over the PCB. Next, wrap the entire board except for where you want the heat applied with tinfoil. By doing this, you will ensure you do not damage any part of the board. This is a risky process, so don’t blame me if you destroy your NES PCB.

Your NES controller should now look like this.

Your NES controller should now look like this.

With the 4021 chip removed, yo can now clearly see the trace lines. I had the fun time of mapping the NES controller’s 4021 pinout. Since the NES controller’s cord had only five wires (thus the need for the 4021 chip to decode those few wires) and yet the need for 9 (eight for the buttons and one ground) I had to replace the cord too. Use anything you can find that has at least nine wires. old printer cables work great here. Because you won’t be using the old cord, this means that only nine of the sixteen pins matter.

My crude diagram showing which pins are which.

My crude diagram showing which pins are which.

Once traced, The fine small soldering began and after a bit of work, I was able to wire an NES controller right to the Xbox 1 controller!

Here you can see the points where you need to solder to in order to do this project on the Madcatz Xbox controller:

Marked in red are possible solder points. Choose which buttons you want to use.

Marked in red are possible solder points. Choose which buttons you want to use.

Before soldering, you need to consider where the cord to the NES controller will go. I thought the best place would be where the memory card slot was, so I removed the memory card pins (since you will never need them anyway). Feed the cord you will use for the NES through the hole and hot glue it in place so it doesn’t move. Once this is all done, you will end up with a setup like this

an NES controller wired to a Madcatz Xbox 1.

an NES controller wired to a Madcatz Xbox 1.

Next carefully fold the wires on the NES side into place where its old cord was and put its back on and screw it in place. On the Xbox Controller tape down the face buttons as they will now be nothing more than decoration. Carefully reapply its casing and screw it back in place. If everything went according to plan, you should now have a working NES controller on your Xbox!

Use it with emulators, collections, and even some Xbox 1 games that don’t require a ton of buttons!

And here it is! Ready for some NES action?

And here it is! Ready for some NES action?

Arcade stick roundup

Posted in Peripherals on September 9, 2009 by satoshimatrix

Today is September 9th 2009. The first day of college again. Yay. But enough of that boring stuff, onto my first post!

Ah…the arcade. Nowadays, hardly anyone frequents them anymore, what with the quick and easy console market. As a result, many of my [and chances are, your] favorite childhood places to visit have vanished over the years. To try to recapture some of that arcade magic, companies have released many home console arcade sticks over the years that emulate the arcade experience with varing degrees of success.

Some of the oldest sticks I own

Some of the oldest sticks I own

This is to show off several of the sticks I own and have collected over the years. This isn’t all of them, but this is all the ones I have that are NOT in peices.

Famicom HJ-7 Arcade Stick (Famicom/AV Famicom/Twin)/FDS)

Was once white

Was once white

The oldest stick by far is the Famicom arcade stick. I don’t even know what to call it. Interestingly, it was made by famed Arcade marker Hori and carries a copyright date of 1984. It has as you can see, yellowed in the same way most Famicoms have over the years. This stick is small and with its oversized joystick yet undersized and oddly shaped buttons, it was probably made for young children rather than adult players. The very small Start and Select buttons don’t help against this theory either. The stick features a 4-way/8-way switch (that seems to be broken on mine) and a Player 1 or 2 slider. There are no extra buttons, no turbo. This being a Famicom controller of course means it has a DB-15 plug so this is not NES compatible as is. Even if it was though, the next controller totally blows it out of the water. Price paid: $10 Est. Value: $25 Overall: 6

NES Advantage (NES)

The NES Advantage was released in 1987 and quickly became a hot item. It is made of sturdy thick plastic with a metal plate bottom for extra weight. It features an excellent custom joystick oversized angled A and B buttons and smaller Start and Select buttons. But what really set this controller apart from others of its day was its turbo feature. Not only could you toggle turbo on for each button, you could also select on a dile just how many times a second the button would be resister as being pressed! The Slow-mo button is actually just a rapid fire Start button, but for games that allowed you to quickly pause it really did feel like playing in slow motion. Price paid: $20 Est. value: $25 Overall: 8

ASCII NES Joystick (NES)

Just what in the hell is this?

Just what in the hell is this?

This is a odd stick I bought for $5 as it reminds me of the sticks from my childhood computer, the Commodore 64. Outside of slower paced shooters, I wouldn’t recommend this stick for anything. Novelty only. It doesnt even have start and select buttons! Price paid: $5 Est. value: $5 Overall: 5

ASCII Fighting Stick (SNES)

Great for SFII, Gradius III, and lots of other classics

Great for SFII, Gradius III, and lots of other classics

This arcade stick released around 1993 is similar to the SNES Advantage but much smaller and much less useless space. There are turbo switches for each of the face buttons and the Start button. It’s decent. Price paid: $$15 Est. value: $20 Overall: 8

ASCII Fighting Stick (Genesis)

Great for Thunder Force and Mortal Kombat

Great for Thunder Force and Mortal Kombat

The Genesis version of the stick above, it is exactly the same. Great for the many shooters on the Genesis and Sega CD. Price paid: $20 [new in box!] Est. value: $30 [new] Overall: 8

GameStar Xbox Arcade Stick (Xbox 1)

With so many great fighters on Xbox, its too bad this stick isnt better

With so many great fighters on Xbox, its too bad this stick isn't better

This is another used game store find. It was dirty and cheap, and complete, but honestly its a step backwards from the ASCII 16-bit sticks I own. The joystick on this thing is loud and unresponsive and the buttons are extremely mushy. I don’t recommend you buy this stick. Price paid: $7Est. value: $15 Overall: 6

Naki-Tec Mini Stick (PS2)

This is probably the worst arcade stick ever

This is probably the worst arcade stick ever

Ugh. What a piece of shit. I have TWO of these but thankfully I didn’t pay for them; they were a free gift when I bought two controller adapters. Even free these controllers are a rip-off. They are made of poor quality buttons and the stick is awful. DO NOT buy. Price paid: $0 Est. value: $-20 Overall: 0

Hori EX2 (Xbox 360/Windows XP)

A decent stick, but could be made better

A decent stick, but could be made better

This stick is an official Hori product, so you know you’re getting quality. Unfortunately, Hori uses their own parts in this stick so while good, they aren’t the god-like Sanwa parts. Luckily, this controller can be modified with sanwa parts to increase the performance to a professional level for around $50 in parts and tools. I’ll be trying this sometime this month. Wish me luck! Price paid: $40 Est. value: $60 Overall: 7 (as is)

Hori Real Arcade Pro 2 (PS2)

The holy grail of console sticks

The holy grail of console sticks

And here it is: the best stick I own. This beast uses real sanwa buttons and a sanwa JLF stick. It has turbo switches for each button making Gradius V and other PS2 and PS1 shooters a snap. The controller is very very large and extremely well built. Words can’t express how good this stick is. You want it. you want it now. So….go buy one! Price paid: $150 Est. value: $150 Overall: 10

PS2 to Xbox and Gamecube adapter

You want one of these. You need one of these. Or two

You want one of these. You need one of these. Or two

If you get a RAP2 and have a Gamecube or Xbox, you’ll want to pick up one of these little gems so you can use the awesome PS2 stick on your other consoles. This handy adapter is plug-and-play and is a great alternative to the Gamecube’s semi-crappy controller design for its fighters. Price paid: $10 Est. value: $10 Overall: 9

I also have a youtube video detailing the same. Sorry for the shitty audio.