We all hark back to what many call the golden era of games, those moments spent putting 50 pence in the latest arcade, the annoyingly unreceptive joystick, those cheap plastic buttons. Following what seems to be a current urge to relive those days, one company has decided to start manufacturing the console panels from those classic arcades and allow you to bring it into your home.
The X-arcade Controller from a replica point of view is hard to fault; everything from that dodgy joystick to even the surface that the whole unit has been encased in is sure to bring those memories flooding back. There are a number of different models and versions available from single player to double player to even a tracker ball model (a la Missile Command and Centipede). We tested the double player variant.
As standard, the controller comes with a PC serial connection and a PS2 (keyboard) connection to allow you to connect it to a PC. At an additional cost you can get adapters for Xbox, PlayStation2, Game Cube and even Dreamcast. We tested our unit with the PC and surprisingly we didn't need any drivers to get the device working with the multitude of games we tried.
While the controller will happily work with the latest first person shooter or flight sim, we downloaded an old arcade emulator and tested it with Street Fighter 2. The results were retro heaven.
While the memories are fond, the device unfortunately isn't without its problems. The first is the size. This device is massive, so large and true to its form that it's as large as a standard arcade machine.
Then comes the price, at £100 you would be able to pick up two very good joysticks on any format for this price and certainly ones that offer far more precision and accuracy- or the console you might want to use to connect them with.
The other problem we encountered when we where playing with two people is getting two chairs close enough to both be comfortable. It sounds strange, but if you think about it for the most part arcades are played standing and to get the most out of this unit we also had to stand.
While the controller does what it sets out to do, we can't see it being anything more than a five minute wonder for a console or PC user. The only way we can see any longer use from it is to actually build it into a cabinet as if it were the real McCoy and for some that's just a step too far for a bit of casual gaming.