|Min OS X: Any Version Requires: USB Port|
With the advent of high-powered gaming consoles and internet-capable computers, itís no small surprise that the arcade industry hasnít been quite as robust as of late. Not only is it easier to stay at home to get your game on, but the arcades of today are quite different from those of the past. I recently visited a local arcade only to be confronted not with the expected stand-up coin op cabinets, but by complex machines that actually require gamers to perform complex feats of physical activity in order to play, including rowing, boxing, kicking, and dancing (you ALL know what Iím referring to here).
In other words, there was almost nary a real honest-to-goodness joystick in sight. Having played video games since the days of Pac Man, I can recall when most arcade machines came with a joystick and, if you were lucky, a button or two. Even as games got more complex, with pioneers like Street Fighter introducing a six button format, one thing remained the same Ė the ubiquitous joystick Ė made so because of its exclusivity in arcades. Oh sure, plenty of companies claimed to make arcade-quality joysticks for home use, but most of them failed to live up to the coin op standard. Even after gaming consoles started receiving acceptable joysticks, computer users were still left out in the cold, valiantly attempting to pull off a dragon punch motion on a cheap thumbpad.
Well, thanks to the fine folks at XGaming, now computer gamers can live the true experience of the arcade without separating themselves from their chairs. This is all thanks to the X-Arcade, quite possibly the last joystick youíll ever have to buy.
Introducing the X-ArcadeThe description for the X-Arcade is something out of a hardcore gamerís wet dream. XGaming maintains that the unit is made out of real arcade parts, right down to the wood. A standard X-Arcade unit is a behemoth of a controller that sports two joysticks with 8 buttons between them, two more buttons on either side of the unit, a load button on the back, and even 1 and 2 player buttons right where youíd expect them to be.
As if this wasnít enough, the X-Arcade also sports a feature which makes it even more attractive Ė multiplatform compatibility. With the right adapters, this monster can be interfaced with Macs, PCs, PS2s, Xboxes, GameCubes, and Dreamcasts. For gamers who own multiple systems and moan and groan about the controllers that invariably pile up, the X-Arcade presents an elegant solution by providing a one-size-fits-all solution.
Arcade ExperienceDuring my high school and college years, I worked part time in two different arcades. During my tenure at both, I had the pleasure of attending to many an arcade machine, which naturally included maintaining and fixing umpteen control setups. Given this experience, Iím pretty critical when it comes to judging what is truly arcade quality and what is not. As I mentioned earlier, plenty of companies claim to make arcade quality joysticks, but one only needs to crack one open and examine the contents to prove these claims false.
So naturally, when I received an X-Arcade in the mail, the first thing I did to it was take a screwdriver to it and crack it open. Interestingly enough, the XGaming folks actually encourage this little activity and even provide instructions on how to do it.
And folks, straight up, the X-Arcade is the real deal. All of the parts, including the buttons, switches, and joystick assemblies, down to the e-rings, are all the same parts found in arcade machines. Even the wood base used to hold everything together seems to be made of the same material as your typical arcade cabinet. If anything ever broke down, I could haul the X-Arcade to the backroom of any arcade and swap out the defective parts for new ones with no problem.
Given that itís made out of arcade parts, the X-Arcade truly feels like the console of a typical arcade machine. Itís hard to describe the experience, but for those who love arcade joysticks, this is it. Iím talking about obelisk-shaped joysticks like the ones found on most fighting games Ė not the ball and stick assemblies sometimes seen on other arcade machines. The addition of the 1 and 2 player buttons is a nice touch that just makes the arcade experience at home even more convincing.