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View Full Version : Best Joysticks and Gamepads for Retro PCs



NayusDante
08-15-2010, 04:13 PM
What is your favorite joystick for DOS games? What about your favorite gamepad? Anything that uses the MIDI/Gamepad port goes.

Trebuken
08-15-2010, 04:45 PM
I always liked my Microsoft Sidewinder. Never used it much - generally have always been keyboard/mouse gamer when playing on PC.

c0ldb33r
08-15-2010, 06:03 PM
yupp sidewinder. I used a gameport version for years until I upgraded to a usb version :D

*I wonder what ever happened to my usb version, I'd love to use it again!*

Jorpho
08-15-2010, 06:37 PM
http://www.digitpress.com/forum/showthread.php?t=74797

Discussion of spiffy gamepad at http://www.digitpress.com/forum/showthread.php?t=80872&page=2 (I still want one)
http://www.watch.impress.co.jp/akiba/hotline/20031206/image/kem3.jpg

But the nicest pad I've seen in a while is the PC Propad4, which has an actual + pad on it that probably infringes on Nintendo's patents.

p_b
08-18-2010, 11:58 PM
I always used the standard Gravis gamepad. Worked a treat.

Gapporin
08-19-2010, 12:37 AM
Microsoft Sidewinder and the Gravis Gamepad are both two classic choices. I use the former for Windows games (since you can't use it under DOS unless you have a specific third-party TSR driver) and the latter for DOS. I also have a Kraft Premium III (http://www.vintagecomputing.com/wp-content/images/retroscan/kraft_joystick_large.jpg) I use whenever I need a joystick, or the classic Gravis Joystick (http://www.szenenight.de/images/fbfiles/images/joystick.jpg) as well. Sometimes I throw in the PC Fighter 6 (http://img248.imageshack.us/i/img1445v.jpg/) for good measure. One pad I have that I haven't been able to test out yet is the Interact PC PowerPad Pro (http://cgi.ebay.com/InterAct-PC-POWER-PAD-PRO-BLUE_W0QQitemZ320552034028QQcategoryZ139969QQcmdZV iewItem#vi-content), which really looks like it should be on a platform more complicated on the PC (there's also an additional button on the back, unseen).

Anybody tell I have a slight controller fetish?

cyberfluxor
08-20-2010, 09:58 AM
For joysticks I use:
[Gameport] Logitech - WingMan Extreme
[USB] Logitech - Attack 3 (ATK3)

I also have an F-15E Hawk Tactical Control Stick [Gameport], but no drivers at the moment as I don't use it and planned to do something else with it.

On the stick side I use:
[Gameport] PC Arcade

http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c196/cyberfluxor/Collections/Computer/comp_controllers.jpg

I have no game pads, really need to pick one up and wanted to go the Saturn controller route; just haven't gotten around to it. Cheaper alternative is to pick up a decent one at a thrift store or something as they do generally sell for under $1.

Jorpho
08-20-2010, 09:27 PM
How do you feel about the Mad Catz Panther?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panther_XL

Aside from that one pictured above, it's the only controller I've ever rather desired.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/94/Pantherxl.jpg

Ze_ro
08-22-2010, 12:12 PM
How do you feel about the Mad Catz Panther?

I have both the Panther XL and Panther DC. They're decent controllers, but it doesn't seem right working a trackball with your left hand. The whole idea of the stick was that it was supposed to be designed for FPS games... but I was so used to WSAD+mouse that I couldn't handle things being reversed. YMMV.

I recently bought one of these USB Saturn controllers, and I'm liking it. They're all over eBay from Hong Kong sellers for about $20 each, and they're official Sega products (at least, some of them are... look for the Sega Logistics Services logo on the back). I know I'm cheating by mentioning a USB controller when the OP was talking about DOS... but it's great for retro gaming on modern PC's at any rate.

http://s243.photobucket.com/albums/ff44/Riceandbeans01/Games/Controllers/SaturnUSB.jpg

On my actual DOS machine, I usually use either a Gravis Analog Joystick or a Gravis Gamepad. These were both pretty popular around here back in the days, and I find them all the time in the thrift store. They're not great, but they usually get the job done.

http://www.szenenight.de/images/fbfiles/images/joystick.jpghttp://img222.imageshack.us/img222/2612/gravispcgamepadxp9.jpg

--Zero

Syzygyst
12-13-2010, 07:32 PM
One pad I have that I haven't been able to test out yet is the Interact PC PowerPad Pro (http://cgi.ebay.com/InterAct-PC-POWER-PAD-PRO-BLUE_W0QQitemZ320552034028QQcategoryZ139969QQcmdZV iewItem#vi-content), which really looks like it should be on a platform more complicated on the PC (there's also an additional button on the back, unseen).
I have and like my InterAct MakoPad PC, which is identical to the PC PowerPad Pro except for color and the name on the top -- it's black instead of blue; both are model SV-234. I had a very difficult time getting it to work on my Windows 98 SE (w/ some WinME components) machine until I happened upon the ONE driver website that has an older (probably the first) driver for it. There's also a very hard-to-find patch for it that I picked up, but the patch crashes my system just like the common driver version. I'd upload the files here but they're all much larger than this site's miserably tiny upload limits.

BTW, there's more than just "an additional button" unseen in the auction photo you linked. Shown on the face of the pad are 6 buttons, A-B-C-D-L-R. Not visible on the shoulders there are duplicate L and R buttons. Lower on the left, where your middle finger should naturally rest, is yet another L button. On the right shoulder below that R button, is a throttle control. Unfortunately, this controller can only activate either the L and R button sets or the throttle control, not both at the same time (you select either "6-button" or "4-button w/ throttle" under the Windows control panel, as well as a switch on the controller itself).

Also perhaps not obvious from the auction photo, the thumbstick and cross-pad are really the same control; you select which to activate by another switch. Naturally the cross-pad is digital only, but the thumbstick is true analogue.

Blanka789
12-13-2010, 08:24 PM
I'll second the Gravis Gamepad and the USB Saturn pad, they're both great. Also, if you use Windows 95 w/USB or Windows 98 for DOS games, you can get the Saturn controller working usually.

tom
12-14-2010, 02:52 AM
the original:
http://roomofdoom.powweb.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=200236&g2_serialNumber=1


and these are great for flying sims:
http://roomofdoom.powweb.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=341025&g2_serialNumber=2

Gapporin
12-14-2010, 10:54 AM
I have and like my InterAct MakoPad PC, which is identical to the PC PowerPad Pro except for color and the name on the top -- it's black instead of blue; both are model SV-234... <snip>

Yeah, I've played around with it since that posting and I really like it. I thought that the button layout would have been complicated but it's actually pretty intuitive. I like how that the same type of button is placed in different points around the controller, leaving it up to the user to decide which is more comfortable. There's a lot of different options to choose from when you use that controller.

FWIW, I posted a thread (http://www.digitpress.com/forum/showthread.php?t=148623) sometime ago about using classic gameport controllers on modern PCs. It's a great product, and very user friendly to use and install. Now if only someone could make something reliable for digital gameport controllers, I'd be set.

diskoboy
12-31-2010, 05:26 PM
and these are great for flying sims:
http://roomofdoom.powweb.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=341025&g2_serialNumber=2

The Wingman Extreme's are great little sticks. I have one of these, myself. But I lost my USB adapter ages ago, and my PC doesn't have a serial port.

The Wingman Extreme was also good for MAME. Especially the System 16 Sega titles like After Burner, Space Harrier, or Galaxy Force.

cyberfluxor
01-02-2011, 07:47 PM
http://roomofdoom.powweb.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=341025&g2_serialNumber=2

Are you about to play Virtual On or some mechwarrior game? It's looking like I'll need to find a second Wingman, which is a good thing they are common. Saw a CIB one the other day at a thrift store but didn't bother looking at the price tag. Controllers can eat up space fast.

Flack
01-02-2011, 09:02 PM
Has anyone picked up or tried one of these yet?

http://www.reflexaudio.com/red-stick-reflex.jpg

Clear, USB, and available w/red or blue LEDs.

I would have bought a couple already but, with only one fire button, it's somewhat limited.

NayusDante
01-02-2011, 10:31 PM
Perhaps I'm a bit too young to appreciate it, but an Atari joystick seems rather useless for PC games. They're not analog, instead they're functionally like a D-pad with a large shaft jutting out of the center. Any PC gamepad is going to be more comfortable and more useful than that.

I think that even the early PC joysticks had analog control...

http://www.old-computers.com/museum/hardware/ibm_pc_junior_joystick.jpg

Flack
01-03-2011, 10:10 AM
I suppose it all depends on what you grew up with and what you got used to using. I hate using gamepads for playing Atari and C64 games almost as much as I hate using Atari joysticks for playing other games with.

I currently use a PS2 Mad Catz RetroCon for emulation gaming, but it still doesn't feel right when playing old C64 and Atari games.

vintagegamecrazy
04-04-2011, 08:29 AM
Just saw this thread and glad I did as I was about to start one of my own. I am looking for recommendations for my 386 Dell System 310, it only has the 9 pin ports for the mouse and the game pad and not the 15 pin like I hoped it had. What good 9 pin game pads are recommended? Are there some good adapters from 15 to 9 pin if not?

Thanks

calthaer
04-04-2011, 10:44 AM
OK, so, couple of questions there, and I'll answer them in the order I think makes sense for you to get the answer I think you're looking for:

-I believe you are referring to DA-15 and DE-9 ports (15-pin and 9-pin, respectively). Correct me if I'm wrong. Link to pics here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D-subminiature

-Once you have the actual name of the ports, you can search for the answer to the question of adapters...you might be able to find (or have someone make) this, but the question of whether it will work or not is another matter entirely.

-I would imagine that you're looking to run DOS on this box, which means you'd need DOS drivers. It's easy to forget in this age of plug-and-play goodness, but once upon a time, peripherals (printers, mouse, keyboard, gamepad, whatever) could be pretty picky about whether or not they'd be "found" by the drivers, depending on how they were plugged in.

-My suggestion would be to see what expansion slots you have available (if any) and spring for some sort of cheap Sound Blaster or other gameport to insert into your machine. Will probably be of comparable cost and my guess would be that it might make things a lot easier for you than trying to rig up a 15-pin gamepad (which almost all the old DOS ones were) to a DE-9 COM port.

vintagegamecrazy
04-04-2011, 10:59 AM
Those are the D sub connectors I'm talking about. Thank You. For OS I have Windows 3.1 and MS-Dos 6.22 if that helps.

So did the Sound blaster cards have a 15 pin D sub port on them? If so then I have several open slots on the back of the PC that I could install the card in. Do you have a link somewhere or an ebay link for a good card?

If I get one of the 15 pin pads can I generally find drivers easily enough for it online and copy it to a floppy and install it on the 386?

Thanks for the help!

calthaer
04-04-2011, 03:12 PM
Yes, Sound Blaster cards from that era usually had a 15-pin "game port" on it. See this (there's even a note on here on game ports in DOS):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_port

The game port typically doubled as a MIDI port, for those who wanted to hook up their electronic keyboards to their computer and do some sort of MIDI recording.

It would appear that you have 6 16-bit ISA expansion slots, and 2 8-bit ISA expansion slots.
http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/DTA/310/00000004.htm
http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/DTA/310/00000005.htm

I would recommend getting an original Sound Blaster / Sound Blaster Pro / 2 card. The Sound Blaster 16 and above appears to require a 486 / Pentium or higher processor.
http://support.creative.com/kb/ShowArticle.aspx?sid=5800

This means you should search for models CT1350, CT1330, or CT1600 (or some variant thereof), and not anything later than that.
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/124944

The few eBay auctions I could pull up all listed at least $20 as the price for a card. It's hard for me to believe it's that much, but apparently there's a market. Searching for a simple game port may yield less results. I'll poke around in my (not-too-large) stash when I get home; not sure if I have anything below a SB16, honestly (got rid of my 386 years ago, and do DOS on something a bit heftier), but if I do I'll PM you. I'm sure my wife will appreciate the opportunity to get some of it out of the house.

But you should check the auction sites. There may be other sound card or game port manufacturers out there, but Creative Labs was the most popular. The fact that you have a 386 limits you to some of the earlier iterations of some of the hardware, unfortunately. Hope this helps.

vintagegamecrazy
04-04-2011, 03:35 PM
Thank you so much calthaer! You have been a great help for sure. Actually everyone who's helped me in the Classic Computing Sub Forum has greatly helped me. I've been having a blast fixing up this old PC as it's been a trip down memory lane for me for sure. It's been a good 15 years now since I last used Dos and Windows 3.1 so I'm loving it! When I get this thing up it its full blown glory then I need to take a few pics of the setup with the games I got for it.

Now it's off to find a CRT monitor for it that's not all blurry like mine is!:)

Jorpho
04-04-2011, 06:53 PM
I am looking for recommendations for my 386 Dell System 310, it only has the 9 pin ports for the mouse and the game pad and not the 15 pin like I hoped it had. What good 9 pin game pads are recommended? Are there some good adapters from 15 to 9 pin if not?I've never heard of 9-pin pads working on a PC. I'm pretty sure those are exclusively digital and thus very different from the typical joystick supported by the vast majority of PC games.

(There was once a series of shareware arcade remakes (http://www.champ-em.com/) that would let you use a 9-pin joystick with a special cable - which you could make yourself if you wanted - that plugged into the parallel port, but those were special.)

Flack
04-04-2011, 08:36 PM
I'm guessing that's just two COM ports, not a COM port and a game port. I specifically remember my old 386 had two 9-pin COM ports, one for the mouse and one for my external modem.

I must be about the same age as Jorpho. I don't ever remember a 9-pin joystick for the PC either. Best I can remember, they went from 15-pin (game/MIDI ports) to USB, at least as far as PCs are concerned. I do remember some goofy 25-to-9 pin adapters for (I think) Amigas.

NayusDante
04-04-2011, 08:58 PM
I do believe that some early PCs had proprietary joystick ports. I know for a fact that the Apple IIc has a 9-pin joystick, but it's reverse gender from a COM port (joystick end is male, plug on the computer is female).

If it's specifically labelled as a joystick port, try a Genesis pad or something. Worst case, nothing happens. Otherwise, it's likely just a COM port.

Jorpho
04-04-2011, 09:47 PM
I do believe that some early PCs had proprietary joystick ports. I know for a fact that the Apple IIc has a 9-pin joystick, but it's reverse gender from a COM port (joystick end is male, plug on the computer is female).Sure, the same thing was used on the Spectrum, I think. By "PC" I for one usually mean IBM PC or compatible.


I do remember some goofy 25-to-9 pin adapters for (I think) Amigas.If I'm not mistaken, 25-to-9 adapters were simply used with older 25-pin serial ports (which were pretty much functionally equivalent to 9-pin ports, just with some largely redundant pins).

kedawa
04-06-2011, 07:13 PM
Amigas used 25-pin serial ports.