Which C64/Amiga joystick should I get for retro gaming bliss?
October 31, 2007 7:47 AM   Subscribe

I'm on a retro gaming binge, actively hoarding games from simpler times, mainly through emulation (C64, Amiga, MAME mostly). I'm looking for a couple of good old-style digital joysticks for the perfect experience. Suggestions?

I've already got the fantastic two-player X-Arcade joystick, but given its arcade-centricity, it's not the best fit for all types of games.

To try and remedy that, I previously bought the new Competition Pro replica USB stick, but I'm not happy with the way it feels and plays. Since then, I've been eyeballing the Stelladaptor Atari 2600 to USB adapter, given that C64/Amiga joysticks use an identical 9-pin connector and should "just work".

Trouble is, I don't know which joystick to buy, and where. I've only ever used Quickshots at my friends' houses nearly 20 years ago, having never owned a C64 or Amiga. They did the job, but apparently they weren't the most reliable joysticks you could buy. Tastes in joysticks vary, but any recommendations are welcome (Quickshots included).

Once I've got a list of joystick models to look for, I'll obviously scour eBay, but can you recommend any good retro gaming shops that would have the types of joysticks I'm looking for in stock? My Google-fu failed me, partially due to my lack of expertise on the types of joysticks available.

Of course, modern USB sticks are acceptable as well, provided they're digital, close to the original C64/Amiga feel, and not the Competition Pro.
posted by lifeless to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The Wico Command Control was what the 2069 household picked up to replace the beaten-to-death stock controllers. Excellent, IMO.
posted by Orb2069 at 8:07 AM on October 31, 2007

Yes! Wico, all the way. The Red Ball is the granddaddy of all home and arcade gaming.
posted by eschatfische at 8:37 AM on October 31, 2007

The Atari Flashback 2.0 tiny-retro-console comes with two old-style single-button Atari joysticks that appear to be the same or better build quality that I remember from my youth.
posted by mrbill at 8:46 AM on October 31, 2007

I'm going to go the oddball route and suggest the Epyx 500 XJ (made by Konix). I _loved_ that thing. I know most people hated it.
posted by tcv at 9:02 AM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's a matter of taste. The Wicos mentioned above are well-nigh indestructable, and a good "compromise" stick -- you can safely use it fist-wrapped-around style if you're a "forceful movements" style player, and also use it with a few fingers on the lower shaft if you're the small precise movements" style player. The caveat is that Wicos are a little heavy to hold in your hands for long, which is why I eventually gave up on them.

I settled on on Gemsticks and Slik Sticks by the time the c64 came around and never felt the need to get anything else. The Slik Sticks were the most comfortable and precise stick I ever found, but I frequently had to open them up and work on the fire buttons; the Gemsticks had the most precise fire button, but the stick itself was basically a stock 2600 and only good for games without a lot of precise direction changes. If anyone had ever merged the two, I'd have been in heaven.

The links above lead you to a store like what you asked for, additionally. You can view many other sticks there!
posted by Pufferish at 9:12 AM on October 31, 2007

I'm not a gamer but I always see that old stuff at thrift stores - the big ones mainly - Salvo, Saint Vincent de Paul, etc.
posted by MiffyCLB at 9:22 AM on October 31, 2007

I've always liked the Slik Stick that Pufferfish mentioned.

Risking sacrilege, for games that are notorious joystick breakers (Speedball 2) it is sometimes handy to have a couple Genesis game pads around. They also fit in the 9-pin connector.
posted by Gary at 10:24 AM on October 31, 2007

That is, Pufferish ... without the third f
posted by Gary at 10:25 AM on October 31, 2007

posted by martinrebas at 11:22 AM on October 31, 2007

+1 on Slick Stick, and I raise you a TAC-2, made by the same folks.
posted by toxic at 12:23 PM on October 31, 2007

I knew QuickShots, and had TAC-2s and a "The Arcade".

Among my friends, QuickShots were scorned for their shoddiness. TAC-2 a had good reputation but I found their buttons to eventually become unresponsive.

The Arcade was ugly, but not even those horrible joystick-abusing sports games could kill it. I also particularly liked how smoothly the stick rolled from one position to another, with a pleasant little click at each step.
posted by Anything at 7:18 PM on October 31, 2007

Ah, good times!
posted by Anything at 7:29 PM on October 31, 2007

Oh, I'd completely forgotten about that crazy EPYX joystick. I totally hated it! If you ask me, the joystick's place is on the table, so you can lean on it as you, inch by inch, draw your face towards the screen. :-)

I also broke its button.

But I do have to give points for uniqueness.
posted by Anything at 7:42 PM on October 31, 2007

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