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 lard pirates dawt cawm  §  X-Arcade Tankstick Review / by Spoony Spoonicus
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 ~Spoony Spoonicus on 07:22pm 06/04/11 (02:27pm 03/31/11) in 1h43m55s  §  4291 eyeballs
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Like many, I was pretty unimpressed with many of the "official" fightsticks being offered by Hori, MadCatz and others - for around $100, you get a crummy joystick with limited motion range, sticky buttons, and various other problems. Sure, there were custom parts available, but those ended up driving the cost up even further and voiding your warranty, so if you had problems with anything you put in there, you were pretty much screwed.

The other option available is to use one of the numerous "fightpads", and while considerably better in terms of responsiveness (and cheaper), they just feel... wrong after you've spent so much time playing these games with a joystick. I could never quite adapt back to doing quick and precise movements on a tiny D-pad.

So, with my tax rebate this year, I went and bought one of these:

The revered X-Arcade Tanksticks, known for their arcade-quality construction and extreme durability. All I have to say about that is that it's very, very true - buttons and joysticks are crisp and responsive, the thing is constructed of high quality, durable materials, and it generally just works like a dream.

So what else came in that big box? Let's take a look.

  • A USB cable for plugging it into your PC or Mac. there's also a PS/2 end for use on PC or operating systems without USB support, though I'm not sure why anyone would still be using one of those.
  • That other cable with the monitor plug at each end is for connecting it to any of its various system adapters, which I'll detail below.
  • Not one, not two, but THREE manuals! Guess they wanted to make sure you always had spares.
    (Actually, two of those are for adapters I bought and catalog their use in greater detail).
  • A disc containing six classic Midway arcade games modified to run on PC: Gauntlet, Rampage, Joust, Robotron, Defender, and Smash TV. Other gaming peripheral companies, take note: Free bonus item when you buy an expensive toy? Always a good idea.


    Hooking this thing up is a breeze, too - just screw the appropriate cable into the plug at the top of the unit, plug it into your system, and you're good to go. It's designed to be treated as a USB keyboard by a computer, so if you want to use it in MAME, you just have to assign the appropriate buttons and you're set. However, some of the default "keys" it uses are mapped to CTRL, ALT and the like, so if you want to use it with windowed programs you'll have to remap the buttons a bit. Fortunately, this is a relatively simple process and is documented quite well in the manual. You'll need to plug in an old PS/2 keyboard to do it, though, so you may have to make a trip to Best Buy or something first.

    A shot of it hooked up and ready to play on MAME. Screen sloppily censored to avoid being sued.

    As mentioned, I also picked up two console adapters for the thing. They're not cheap, ranging upwards of $25 apiece, but when you consider that fight sticks can average nearly $100 a pop and generally only work with a single console, it's a pretty damn good bargain. Also worth noting is that each of these adapters is designed to work with more than one system - further savings!

    The top adapter functions with both the Playstation 3 and original Xbox, whilst the bottom works with a whopping five consoles - PS2, PS1, Gamecube, Wii and Dreamcast. Ah, the joys of backward compatibility.

    Once again, setup is a breeze, just requiring you to screw the cable into the adapter box, then plug it into your system. However, as with another controller converter I've previously reviewed, you're forewarned to plug everything in BEFORE the console is powered on. Otherwise.... well, I'll just let the manual explain.

    Now, you might be wondering why they didn't include Xbox 360 support to go along with the Xbox/PS3 adapter. Well, the answer to that is that the console itself contains an annoying Microsoft security measure enforcing a monopolistic policy on who can and can't produce peripherals for their console. So legally, X-Arcade's hands are bound. They do offer a workaround device that requires the use of one of their PS2 system adapters, but for now, there's no "clean" way to connect an X-Arcade to the 360.

    These converters are a slight bit suspect - they're not made by X-Arcade themselves, but rather just seem to be cheap things built in either China or Hong Kong by a nameless company. They work, though, so I can't complain too much.

    Aside from that, the X-Arcade is well worth the investment if you're a big fan of fighting games and classic arcade titles - solidly built, extremely responsive, and the nearest we're likely to get to universal compatibility with any controller.

     rawks  §  rad comments, dogg.
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