Retro Gaming: Classic joysticks.

I’ve just brought a couple of reissued Competition Pro 5000 joysticks (modern USB interface) and it got me thinking about all the sticks I’ve used over the years.

Atari Joystick

Probably one of the most recognized joysticks around is the iconic Atari 2600 joystick. Small, responsive and comfortable to hold. Sporting a standard 9-pin d plug, I still use one with my Commodore C64 & Amiga. The only down side is that sadly, the white plastic contact ring inside the body is prone to break.

Sun Com Slik Stick

Another great joystick of mine and a very popular alternative to the classic Atari  stick. Slightly smaller that the TAC-2, its ball top design is reminiscent of many arcade machines.

Cheetah 125+

Most folk hate it but I’m certainly not one of them. The Cheetah 125+ was/is one of my all time favorites and have owned more of these sticks than any other model. The autofire toggle switch has got me through some of the most intense toughest shooters but alas, games such as Daley Thompson’s Decathlon and Combat School have wrecked more than I care to admit!

Quikshot I & II Turbo


Similar to Cheetah, the Quikshot I&II joystick was another firm favorite of mine. I must have a thing for leaf switch joysticks! To be honest, I probably say I prefer the Cheetah due to the inclusion of the additional buttons on the base, but none the less, still a great joystick that gets quite a lot of use today. Prompted by a magazine article in the late eighties, I remember savagely butchered one by replacing the stick with a plastic Uzi machine-gun toy to recreate my favorite arcade title at the time –  Taito’s Operation Wolf.

Konix Speedking /Epyx 500XJ

The Konix Speedking is favored by most folk I speak to who have owned one but personally, I’m not a fan. In hindsight, I guess it’s got a lot going for it. Small, lightweight, has a very responsive micro switch based joystick, autofire toggle and buttons just in the right place when held (unless you’re left handed). There’s just something about it that I’ve never liked about it (this also including the Cheetah ‘Bug’)

Powerplay Cruiser

The Powerplay Cruiser has to be one of the most colorful joysticks around (the blue, red & white edition looked terrible).  Having quite a large base it’s not the most comfortable to hold for long periods of time. However, with the inclusion of large sucker pads positioned on the bottom, it’s much better to use when planted down on a desktop. One of the best features of this joystick the adjustment collar   (the blue bit in the picture) that allows you to set how loose/stiff the joystick is. Loose for driving games, and stiff for twitch gaming!

Competition Pro 5000

I’d say, this is one of my favorite classic joysticks of all time, sporting two very responsive buttons and microswitch based stick. Later models included an auto fire toggle switch and a clear plastic base so you could see all of the inner working inside. My only criticism of these sticks is that they were often very stiff and wrists would ache during bouts of intense gaming. On the upside, it’s one hellava robust stick and even the waggle-tastic sports games couldn’t break it.  I’m still looking for the ‘Deluxe’ model which contains an extra couple of fire buttons and a  stunning chrome stick.

Super Pro Zipstick +

Similar to the Competition Pro, the Zipstick + is also a damn fine joystick and is my weapon of choice when using my Amiga…and rescently my Atari ST. I took the picture below at last years Retro Reunited event, looks like it’s still a popular stick!

…and finally, here’s an old photo of my  Sanwa joysticks I  use in my MAME arcade cabinet.

Got a favorite classic joystick, I’d love to hear your comments.

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10 responses to “Retro Gaming: Classic joysticks.

  1. I have always loved the speedking and the bug, but never had a competition pro 5000. I like the sound of nearly indestructible though as I used to get through atari joysticks like they were going out of fashion. Might have to get one.
    The Speedking and Bug have lasted bloody well and have just got some spare ones off ebay just in case!

  2. For Decathlon I use to turn the joystick on it’s side and just shake it.
    Less Pressure on the sticks and if you got it in sync it would work great.
    I also made a small box with a 2 pole push button switch so pressing one button would allow me to run and then another button for things like jump.
    Effectively, when the button was up it was left when it was down it was right.
    Really made the games a lot easier and enjoyable.

  3. Always great to hear about the ingenious ideas that folk had back then.

    Thanks for sharing

    Kind regards

    StiGGy

  4. Ha ha, @Albert, we did a fair bit of drilling and glueing in our time to swap attach autofire circuits/switches to better joysticks which sorely needed them!

  5. Thanks fr this, been going loopy this past decade trying to remember the suncom slik stik that I used to have on my Vic20!!
    Found em on eBay now 🙂

  6. Hey there,

    Great stick wasn’t it – great for quick reflex games. I’ve always wanted it’s bigger brother, the TAC-2.

    Happy gaming.

    StiGGy

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