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Thread: Best Joysticks and Gamepads for Retro PCs

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    Default Best Joysticks and Gamepads for Retro PCs

    What is your favorite joystick for DOS games? What about your favorite gamepad? Anything that uses the MIDI/Gamepad port goes.

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    I always liked my Microsoft Sidewinder. Never used it much - generally have always been keyboard/mouse gamer when playing on PC.

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    yupp sidewinder. I used a gameport version for years until I upgraded to a usb version

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

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    http://www.digitpress.com/forum/showthread.php?t=74797

    Discussion of spiffy gamepad at http://www.digitpress.com/forum/show...t=80872&page=2 (I still want one)


    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.
    Last edited by J'orfeaux; 08-15-2010 at 07:39 PM.
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    I always used the standard Gravis gamepad. Worked a treat.

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    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 I use whenever I need a joystick, or the classic Gravis Joystick as well. Sometimes I throw in the PC Fighter 6 for good measure. One pad I have that I haven't been able to test out yet is the Interact PC PowerPad Pro, 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?
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    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



    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.
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    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorpho View Post
    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.



    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.



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    Last edited by Ze_ro; 08-22-2010 at 01:16 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gapporin View Post
    One pad I have that I haven't been able to test out yet is the Interact PC PowerPad Pro, 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.

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    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.

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    the original:



    and these are great for flying sims:
    Last edited by tom; 12-14-2010 at 03:54 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Syzygyst View Post
    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 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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tom View Post
    and these are great for flying sims:
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tom View Post
    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.
    Last edited by cyberfluxor; 01-02-2011 at 08:50 PM.
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    Has anyone picked up or tried one of these yet?



    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.

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    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...


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    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.

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    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?

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    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.
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