reviews\ Jul 9, 2002 at 8:00 pm

X-Arcade - PC - Review

Home video game consoles will never replace the quarter-draining experience of a full stand-up arcade game.  While younger gamers may never have stood up for hours on end, slipping coins into thin vertical slots, or even stepped foot into a noisy, flashy video arcade, many veteran gamers miss the feel of solid controls in their hands. 


The home console joystick went the way of the dodo bird after the extinction of the Atari 2600, and many people were happy to see it go.  Without a stable base, joysticks were maneuvered by one hand, and stabilized by the other, making it difficult to make a frog jump across the freeway or outwit ghosts while gobbling pellets to advance to the next stage.  With the increasing popularity and potency of the D-pad, joysticks looked to be on their last legs, confined only to video arcades.  Joystick peripherals for home consoles have been attempted before with lukewarm results, mostly because of their flimsiness and compact size, but X-Gaming’s X-Arcade does the job quite nicely and should keep all you Pac-Maniacs well entertained, no matter what next-gen console you own. 


Universal controllers are rare these days, but the X-Arcade works with the Playstation 1 and 2, PC, Macs, GameCube, Xbox, and the Dreamcast by virtue of various adaptors that can easily be purchased from X-Gaming’s website.  Simply plug in the controller to your console and you’re ready to go.  It’s as simple as that. The X-Arcade is really two controllers in one.  Both joysticks and sets of buttons are on the same unit, side-by-side, and the unit plugs into two controller slots on the console it’s being used with without a hitch.


Right out of the box, the X-Arcade is an impressive sight.  It has a fair amount of girth to it, leaving other joystick peripherals with a bit of joystick envy.  Weighing in at ten pounds, the beefy X-Arcade is the Pavarotti of joystick peripherals.  And at two feet wide and one foot deep, the X-Arcade easily dwarfs the consoles it will be controlling while legitimately simulating an arcade experience.


The X-Arcade comes complete with buttons and joysticks that seem to have jumped off a Streetfighter 2 video arcade machine.  The feel of each joystick is weighted perfectly, with just the right amount of resistance.  The spring-loaded buttons give in to fingers with all the nostalgic feel of the first Space Invaders game.  Each unit has two joysticks, twenty buttons, and solid high-quality injected wood, just like a real arcade machine.  Two start buttons complete with the single and double human silhouettes akin to the icon found on men’s rooms grace the top of the unit, and two pinball-style select buttons are on the sides of the unit.  Getting used to the position of the buttons may take a while, but the payoff is worth it. 


Using the X-Arcade with a PC or Mac is simple and incredibly customizable.  All twenty buttons are programmable, making it perfect for macros and games that require all sorts of keyboard strokes.  The controller is MAME compatible meaning that revisiting arcade classics with a real arcade feel is easy as pie.


On home consoles, the X-Arcade is best suited for arcade style games, such as Maximo, and some sports games, like EA’s FIFA series.  Maximo plays like a dream on the X-Arcade, and really returns to its gritty Ghosts N’ Goblins feel.  Simple platformers that require little more than a jump and attack button were made for the X-Arcade.  FIFA 2002 plays even better with the X-Arcade than the standard issue Dual Shock 2 controllers, with an increase in pinpoint passing and easy maneuverability.  Fighting games such as DOA 2 also play extremely well with the X-Arcade.  The button line-up and joystick make combos easier and really bring back that Streetfighter 2 arcade feel.  Just for kicks, my buddy and I rented an old-school track and field button mashing game for the Playstation and gave it a run with the X-Arcade.  The buttons stood up to the test, and the inevitable hand cramps from the carpel-tunnel inducing button pushing frenzy that would have occurred with a standard controller were nonexistent with the X-Arcade. 


As great of an arcade feel the X-Arcade offers, it is important to note that the X-Arcade is a controller with only a left analog stick.  What this means is that many of the first-person shooters that require you to look with the right analog stick won’t be much fun.  In fact, any game that requires a right analog joystick won’t be of much use.  The buttons are also not Dual Shock compatible, so games such as Gran Turismo 3 or Stuntman won’t have the variable acceleration and Madden 2002 won’t have the range of jukes on the X-Arcade. 


With kits ranging from $149 to $179, the X-Arcade isn’t exactly something you can buy with your allowance.  However, with its cross-platform versatility and being a two-person controller, it potentially is equivalent to buying eight controllers (two for each next-gen console) at once.  Add to that lifetime guarantees on the joysticks and buttons, the ability to work with consoles with a simple adaptor, and you may be able to use this thing with the Playstation 9 and anything else that comes out fifty years down the road.  It’s an investment, but one that’s worth it for fans of arcade-style games. 




The X-Arcade is the most durable controller I’ve ever encountered and should stand the test of time.  It’s ability to adapt to any console or computer will have anyone fortunate enough to own every console overjoyed.  This is an authentic arcade controller, and a must for those with a tear in their eye for old arcade games.



Being more expensive than a Gamecube, the X-Arcade isn’t for everyone.  If you’re using it with a friend, you had better hope they have taken a shower recently as you’ll be sitting thigh-to-thigh with them.  The X-Arcade can’t be used with every game.


Verdict: 8

This controller works wonders with specific games.  However, its lack of playability with certain genres hurts its overall versatility.  This controller is for those who long for games like Joust, Dig Dug, and Defender, or those who want to add something to their fighting and sports games. 


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