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Games Entertainment Hardware

Gamepads for Console/Arcade Emulators? 85

Posted by Cliff
from the call-your-gamepad-and-raise-you-one-joystick dept.
Mortimus asks: "I'm looking for a gamepad that is best suited for arcade and console emulators. The problems I've experienced with a previous gamepad like the Gravis GamePad Pro resides in the directional pad not being precise enough and misinterpreting directions, even with proper calibration, which can be very frustrating. I'm aware of the X-Arcade joystick, but that isn't what I'm looking for. I'm more interested in gamepad like the Logitech Dual Action, Guillemot Thrustmaster Dual Analog Gamepad, and perhaps even an original Sony Playstation gamepad with a USB adapter. What have you all found works best with most emulators (MAME, FBA, ZSNES...) and the most precise without being finicky?"
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Gamepads for Console/Arcade Emulators?

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  • USB all the way (Score:2, Informative)

    by Jukashi (240273)
    I bought a dual psx/usb adapter off ebay for like 10 bucks, works perfect. handles ps2 controllers/analog sticks with just the standard usb modules.
  • Yes...
    I've been playing a few games under Linux recently through WineX (Morrowind , Max Payne , Vice City etc) ,and also some of the classics under emulation (mainly zsnes and Mame). I recently tried cannibalising an old Megadrive pad to use via the parallel port. Needless to say I think i screwed the soldering up !

    So Since I have numerous Playstation controllers lying around I wondered if anyone here (since we are on topic) has got the PSX->USB adaptor running under linux and tested it with any real wo
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:28PM (#7992879)
    I got a PlayStation joypad adaptor from RadioShack a while back. It works beautifully. With it I was finally able to clear Snatcher for the SegaCD (using GENS), something my Gravis Gampad Pro couldn't handle. It works great, and the new ones are around $10. Very precise control in ZSNES, SNES9x, GENS, NESticle, FCE Ultra, and Nestopia. Not sure about MAME but I see no reason it shouldn't work there.
  • The original Gravis Gamepad is a very precise, simple gamepad. The directional thumbpad is equally as good as the Nintendo SNES controller (plus you can screw a little joystick into it but I don't know why anyone would) and the buttons are big, easy to press, have a good feel, and are far enough apart that you won't press the wrong one by accident. You can actually do Street Fighter uppercuts to the left and right with this gamepad.

    The only downside is that it's only got 4 buttons. It's perfect for NE
    • The original Gravis Gamepad, as well as the Pro (at least the non-USB one, I haven't bought anoyhrt since I picked up that clunker), are ridiculously finicky controllers, at least in my experience under Win2k). Even after adjusting the size of the dead zone and such, calibrating it was a nightmare. It had a nasty tendency to assume I had some sort of perverse obsession with intermittently moving to the right. Ugh, terrific headache. I wouldn't bother with anything but a USB controller nowadays, and woul
      • I speak from experience, you're full of shit. The Gravis Gamepad Pro is one of the best selling gamepads for a reason, and I've been emulating SNES for almost a decade using it. The "imprecise" D-pad is a myth. Maybe you should learn how to put your thumb in the right spot, and perhaps it will improve your gaming performance. ;) In fact, I find it better than the real thing because I can map the controls any way I want.
        • Gamepad Pro problems (Score:2, Informative)

          by OgdEnigmaX (535667)
          I, as I mentioned, was using the non-USB Gamepad Pro...black controller, four main buttons and what I thought were two other configurable buttons but turned out to be simply autofire for buttons one and two. Completely unconfigurable, in fact...no bundled software or anything, which is odd given the fact that my original Gravis Gamepad at least came with a small sampler floppy with, like, Commander Keen on it :). I assure you that my complaints come not from an error in thumb placement but from no effort
        • My gameport Gamepad Pro was pretty much exactly as the OP described. Rarely would I get the thing to be stable (non-jittery) after doing all the calibration. The pad was less than impressive but I really prefer more definition in the cardinal points.

    • The original Gravis Gamepad and the Pro version both have the same circular d-pad. Circular d-pad's are terribly inprecise, as they make it incredibly difficult to move directly across the pad without accidentally hitting another direction along the way.
      • I can't speak for the Pro, but the original Gravis' circular thumbpad is very precise and "snappy". It takes a good push to get the direction to "click". My dual analog Logitech Wireless Wingman Rumble has a circular thumbpad that really blows. With my Gravis I never ever miss.
  • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:41PM (#7992985) Homepage Journal
    Depends on what you are emulating. For emulating arcade games, get the X-Arcade or build something similar. If you are playing on a SNES emulator, get a SNES controller. Just set up your front end to recognize the correct controller for each emulator.

    Seriously, none of the original controllers are that expensive, and is going to give you the closest feel to the original. That is what you are after, isn't it?
  • Xbox controller (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zork the Almighty (599344) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:42PM (#7992993) Journal
    I really like the Xbox controller, and I'm aware of the hack which allows it to be used as a joystick under Linux. Has anyone actually tried this ? How well does it work ?
    • Re:Xbox controller (Score:3, Insightful)

      by quinkin (601839)
      Yeah I have done it. The only real problem I had was getting a non-standard extension cable with odd cable colours, took a bit of experimentation (and a lot of solder).

      It works like a dream, the only problem being that you have to either not use the trigger buttons or set them to digital - no PC games/emulators seem to support analog buttons. Which is a shame as I love driving games...

      Q.

      • Re:Xbox controller (Score:3, Interesting)

        by iainl (136759)
        "It works like a dream, the only problem being that you have to either not use the trigger buttons or set them to digital - no PC games/emulators seem to support analog buttons. Which is a shame as I love driving games..."

        Really? My Gamecube to USB adaptor (the bizarrely named Joybox 13) maps the analogue L/R buttons to slider axes, and so work as full-analogue accellerator and brake on my PC driving games. Mind you, I've also got my PS2 Logitech Driving Force installed as a force-feedback wheel and pedals
  • by Calmiche (531074) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:42PM (#7992995)
    Seriously, the best purchase I ever made was a USB adaptor for my Playstation controller. It functions perferctly. 99% of the games I've ever played find it perfectly. Both analog sticks work, and you can turn them off and on.

    Make sure you get one that is recognised by Windows.

    I use something called a Yobo game adapter, but I'm not sure if you can find them still. Mine is about 4 years old.

    I can also hook in all kinds of other adapters, including my dance mat. (For dance dance revolutions.)

    Calmiche,
    • We bought a bunch of some no-name USB adapter so we could plug PS2 controllers into development PCs. They worked but the update rate was only about 15Hz so it was easy to have missed button presses.

      I'm sure there are many different models - this particular one also had an N64 controller port with a slider to choose between them and two LEDs to indicate which was active (red for PSX, green for N64).
    • This one [merconnet.com] is about perfect. Windows XP even comes with the drivers for it.

      I even use my PS2 controllers to play emulated N64 games. I just had to get used to where I moved my Z trigger to.

      For games like Street Fighter and the like I recommend using an old PS1 controller as extensive use of the shoulder buttons on the anolog controllers tends to break the hinges making them less responsive.
    • (Aside: sold my HotRod in hopes of getting an X-Arcade soon... having the one stick for most of the systems I have is a big bonus in the wife-doesn't-want-stuff-cluttering-basement dept.)

      Besides a real stick, I agree that the PS1/PS2 USB adaptors are the way to go. I've had good luck with the one I have (don't remember the name off the top of my head, but you can find a good list here [stepmania.com] on the Stepmania site. Those DDR freaks know their PSX adapters!
  • SNES! (Score:3, Informative)

    by nidx (583973) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:50PM (#7993107)
    I found some directions somewhere on the net for modifying snes controllers to use the lpt /db-25 / parrelel port. not the most advanced solution but very funn for playing emu games

    Resources:

    mod instrustions [emulationworld.com]
    XP Driver [mysite4now.com]


    also psx with usb adapter is very nice ... espically for tony hawk games.
  • The Catweasel Mk3 [jschoenfeld.de] is a PCI card with, amongst other things, two old-school 9-pin sub-D digital joystick ports. I believe there are Linux drivers, so this may help plenty of /.ers, but I'm still a Windows person and I'm hanging out for Windows drivers for these ports. Anyone feel like making my year?
  • As far as gamepads go, my recommendation is the Saitek P880 Dual Analog pad [saitekusa.com]. It is ergonomically designed, and it comes with programmable software.

    It is superior over the Playstation pad for a number of reasons:

    • The PSX's D-pad is stiff and rigid, not suitable for fighting games. Diagonal movement is cumbersome to achieve. This gamepad has a fully rotatable D-pad
    • 6 right-side buttons on this gamepad, as opposed to 4 on the PSX's. This is handy when you are playing Capcom arcade fighters, or Sega Genesis
    • What on Earth are you doing, man? If you want to play Capcom-style fighters on your PC, get a Dreamcast Arcade Stick and one of the latest DC-USB convertors. Its pretty much the same components as you'd find on a Naomi cabinet, and ideal for the job. I can't stand playing fighting games on a pad, to be honest.

      Alternatively, the Hori Soul Calibur II stick through a GC-USB box works almost as well (its just that defining the L and R buttons without it picking up the analogue axes as well is occasionally glit
    • Yes, I'm also a fan of Saitek pads.

      I have the P2500 [saitekusa.com], which is identical to to P880 except it has rumble.
      Of course, rumble isn't supported in most emulators of older systems, but it works great for N64 emulation and most recent PC games.

      Or there's the P3000 [saitekusa.com]. Same design , plus it's wireless. Downsides are the price, batteries, and no rumble.

      (not advertising, just a satisfied customer)
  • I recently purchased a Logitech Dual Action and found that the left analog joystick had calibration problems. It fluctuated from dead center and I was not able to play driving games properly. Imagine going down at 200mph and the steering is constantly twitching. Anyway, I wanted to exchange it for another but the place where I purchased it (Best Buy) didn't have anymore. I ended up with a Logitech WingMan RumblePad. Drivers are the same and it adds dual shock.

    I would have preferred the Dual Action over the
    • FYI I got a USB Dual Action as well, and I don't have calibrations with any of the buttons. I'm running DX9 under WinXP, and the drivers that came on the Logitech CD. I don't know if that's got anything to do with it, but I play NFS Hot Pursuit 2 all the time and I've never had any problems with it.
  • I picked up a Saitek P880 [saitekusa.com] at Circuit City for $19.99 about 2 weeks ago since my new PC doesn't have a gamepad port, making my old reliable Sidewinder useless. It spat out a $10 rebate at the register. (Not sure if it still will, but the terms on the rebate say it must be mailed in by 1/31.)

    It's a bit light in weight compared to a PS2 pad, but for what I've played on it so far, it's definitely good for the price. I haven't even installed the optional customization software, and it works great with MAME an
  • Nostromo by Belkin (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ubrkl (310861)
    I have 2 USB Belkin Nostromos [belkin.com]... They've been configured for MAME, ZSNES, Visual Boy Advance, and a bunch of others with no problems.

    Half the trick I found was with the emulator configuration. Get your controllers working well, then configure the emulators around them. These controllers work natively under XP, and have excellent drivers for 2K. I don't know about *nix support.
    • I have 7 of these, 6 of them for a 3 monitor emulation system that I use as part of some of my exhibitions, they are awesomely programmable, and super compatible with every Emu that I have ever used one with. You can also use them as a mouse controller, to access your GUI while playing, if you need to. They stand up to some heavy abuse, and you can get them for 20 bucks. They are the alpha and omega of Playstation 2 style controllers, hands down
    • I'm a new convert to them as well - bought myself an n45 for xmas to replace my original-model Sidewinder gamepad.

      It was awful to configure at first, until i downloaded the latest drivers/utilities from the belkin site, but since then it's been smooth sailing.

      Now i can start looking at building a Mame controller using the old sidewinder!

      (Tried a thrustmaster pad as well, before getting the Belkin one, but had a godawful time trying to find the drivers, since they didn't come with the new gamepad and i co
    • I can't reccomend the n45 enough. I've had mine for over a year now, and its still the best PC gamepad i've ever used, and I have a pile of various failed gamepads in the corner of my room. (sidewinder dual strike, gravis somethingorother, 3d-pad-pro, some thrustmaster thing with force feedback that doesn't work because only the win98 drivers support the motors.... etc..) also, I'm thinking of getting a second one so I can set it up for multiplayer MAME. my friends and I love the ninja turtle and Simpson
  • Just to add mine, Sidewinder is a pretty good controller I have used for all emulators and doesnt require drivers for windows 2000-xp since is MS based is already on the install files.
    The only big problem is a big stupid button which actually turns off the controller and is in the midle of it, who thought of that? MS motto: we will screw up something in our product somewhere, guaranteed.
    • There's more than one model of MS Sidewinder. I don't know which is which, but I know the one I'm stuck with (being too lazy to go buy a new controller) has rather lousy d-pad--frequently i push left only to see my protagonist move diagonally up and left. Very sad.
  • I bought a playstation / n64 usb adapter that is awesome. I use an n64 controller with mine, but plan to pickup a playstation controller eventually.

    I'm extremely happy with the purchase and it is much better than any of my old gravis controllers were (Gravis Gamepad and Gravis Gamepad Pro). As other have said, the Gravis directional pads are horrible - sadly, they still haven't fixed this within the past 8 years.
  • I got the N64+PSX adapter [nathell.com], and it works great. This is the first time I've ever owned any PlayStation system (I've been enjoying my GameCube too thoroughly for 12+ games to care about a PS2 ^_^ But I finally got one so I'd have an extra DVD player and be able to play DDR), so I never really noticed, but the controller is perfect for SNES games. It's got the perfect layout and shape, and even has an extra L and R button which I set to the fast-forward button. Very slick. Unfortunately I don't have the right
  • the problem with most pc joysticks is that the plastic for the arrows is shaped into one big circle. the innovation that nintendo came up with, the plus pad, is the only way to go. look for those kinds of gamepads. accept no substitutes.

    btw, who was the guy who invented the plus pad? and what was the original name given to it?
    • According to this comment [slashdot.org] the plus pad is patented or otherwise protected IP. This seems like a credible assertion when you look at the PSX and X-Box controllers. So I imagine any PC gamepads with a plus pad will be cheaply made by the sort of folks who ignore patents (i.e. you're not going to see a plus pad on a Logitech controller any time soon).
  • PC Gamepads are way behind the console market (quite obviously) as the only viable input for them has been a gamepad. Therefore you might as well use a USB PS2PC adapter. There's really just no contest.

    PS Joy Converter [lik-sang.com]

    That and a Playstation Dual Shock controller will do you real well (also works with ddr pads... woot for stepmania! [stepmania.com])

  • I, too, was in search of a good controller to use for emulation, so i picked up a Gravis Eliminator Aftershock [gravis.com]. At first it was pretty cool. It has lots of features, like mouse and keyboard emulation, that make it so that your hands don't have to leave the controller to select a new game in your emulator. The overall position of the buttons and sticks got annoying after extended use, and the D-pad doesn't seem to be calibrated correctly. I would much prefer to have bought a PS2 controller and an adapter
  • This gamepad [ebgames.com] is probably my favorite. It's a little harder to use than the standard PS2 Dual Shock controller, but the retro value more than makes up for it.

    Along with the PS2 -> USB adaptor [lik-sang.com] and a NES PC [junkmachine.com] (although I had built mine before I ever heard of this gent), it's almost like having a real NES, and every game ever made to play on it. =D

    Disclaimer: I do actually own all of these products. Not shilling.
  • PSJOY is the best PSX USB adapter that I've heard of. I have one, works like a charm. In windows it operates on DirectInput as well I think, so pretty much anything that uses DirectX should interface to it. I primarily do NES, Game Boy, SNES, N64, and Arcade emulation and haven't had a problem

    I don't know about Linux support.

    Also, it's the preferred PSX adapter according to the Stepmania [stepmania.com] site which has a nice analysis of the PSX adapters, at least in terms of DDR Simulation/Emulation.
  • I decided, as an after-thought, to add console emulation to my MAME cabinet [www.upup.tk]

    Initially, I bought a pair of these [compgeeks.com] for Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and Playstation emulation. They're an inexpensive ($5/ea) playstation 1 controller clone (but in pretty translucent blue, which matched my cabinet nicely) but with much better action/feedback than the original playstation controllers. These worked great for the console emulators, and some MAME games, but there really is no substitute for a joystick and a handful of ar

    • I've heard really good things about the adaptoid, and just how the drivers for it along with the testing program works really well. Like most people have mentioned, getting the usb to controller adapter is the best, esp if you play a lot of console games. Personally, I like the gamecube controller best for playing the old NES, so I used the superjoybox 13 adapter.

      And at first I was having some compatability issues between certain programs and the joystick, but I ended up just getting a keyboard emulator
  • Hanaho's [hanaho.com] Hotrod SE recently dropped in price from the well-nigh ludicrous $249 to the completely reasonable $100. The controller is a full-sized, double arcade joystick setup with seven buttons per player, plus a "coin insert" and "start" button for each player. It functions as nothing more than a standard PS/2 keyboard, and has a passthrough for your actual PS/2 keyboard. As such, it's driverless and keys are easily remapped/rebound without the need for any peculiar software. The whole thing is assembl
  • I've used a Thrustmaster Firestorm Dual Analog 2 for about a year now with my various emulators. I'm very used to the PS2 controller, and from the PC gamepads on the market right, this gamepad is the closest it gets to the same feeling as a PS2 pad.

    I've had no major problems with it, other than the fact one of the back buttons (comparable to the dreamcast trigger buttons) is broken. But I never used it anyways.

    Unfortunately, I haven't seen it at EB for a few months now...I don't think it's all that popu
  • I've found the Adaptoid [ztnetstore.com] to be a very useful product. It's simply a Nintendo 64 controller to USB adapter, but it is the best of any console controller USB adapter out there.

    There are drivers for it for Windows at it's original manufaturer's site [wishtech.com] but they are only needed if you wish to use functions such as memory pak backup and force feedback. It is a standard HID compliant device and will work under Linux. It should also work with a USB enabled Mac, but I have not tested this personally.

    If you are usi
  • Apparently, lik sang is looking at making an SNES to USB adaptor.. that'd probably be the best solution, if and when it comes out.

    But for me, I just have my SNES hooked up to the bedroom TV (and a pair of wireless snes controllers)... emulation may be cheaper, but nothing compares to having the actual system and carts.
    • emulation may be cheaper, but nothing compares to having the actual system and carts.

      Your SNES includes hq2x resolution enhancement, does it? And fast-forward/rewind buttons? And save states? And high-res filtered mode 7?

      Nope, emulation doesn't have anything to offer that isn't there in the original platform...
  • I bought a copy of Super Street Fighter II from a clearance pile at Electronics Boutique and it came with a 6 button controller. A "PC Fighter 6", it's an old school 6 button controller. It's very similar to the later 6 button controllers for the Sega Genesis. Same size, shape and feel. It work very well for fighting games.

    Not bad for a "Free" controller that came with a $5 purchase.

    LK
  • The Nyko AirFlo, despite being somewhat gimmicky, has a pretty good lock on being my favorite PC controller of late. It uses basic HID drivers, so no messing around with worrying about a driver disc. Only drawback is that it's somewhat tricky to set up in the emulators I use (ZSNES, UltraFCE, Gens); and trying to use it with my Nostromo Speedpad is a nightmare, generally I have to have only one or the other plugged in at a time. But a decent pad, physically identical to the PS2 version, with the exceptio
    • I agree -- the AirFlo [nyko.com] is pretty good. My only real complaints are:
      1. I don't like that the d-pad is considered a "hat" by most applications. It can be a bit of a pain to configure.
      2. The d-pad is a little too close to the left analog stick, which makes certain input sequences (shoryuken!) difficult.

      Other than that, it's a solid Playstation-like pad, and the fans inside it actually are pretty good for keeping the palm-sweat under control.

      -W

  • What I've done is use Linux's excellent support for console joypads (see the documentation in the Linux source in Documentation/input/joystick-parport.txt). This allows you to use e.g. Atari/Amiga joysticks, or Sega MegaDrive/Genesis joysticks, even PlayStation joypads are supported !

    Now what I've done is use a defective SNES multiplayer adapter, take an parallel printer cable and soldered everything according to the documentation mentioned above. No resistors or shit necessary. You can see the result on m [darkdust.net]

  • Works flawlessly with full analogue and rumble on ePSXe / 1964 / MAME / anything else, is dirt cheap and fits in with my transparent green PSX pad.

    Linky [nathell.com]

    - Chris
  • I found one at Walmart for $18 that was almost an exact PS2 controller. An adapter wouldn't work for me. I let the kids play "safe" class Nintendo titles on the computer, Donkey Kong Country, while my wife and I play FFX2. I works for me.
  • My suggestion has already been said in part, but it doesn't hurt to reinforce it.

    USB adaptor for PSX pads, to start with. The PSX controller is closest to the SNES in style, so you've also got your SNES and NES covered nicely. Then you go grab a good PSX arcade stick like the Blaze Twinstick, and you've got your arcade games covered-- get the arcade stick for PSX as you'll have more buttons to work with as compared to Saturn. If you also get a USB adaptor that does Saturn, you've got your Saturn and Genesi
  • BlackChopper has a multi-controller USB adapter coming out. It'll be compatible with SNES, NES, Genesis (other DB9), N64, etc. The root module is USB and then cable adapters plug into it.

    It works like a HID-keyboard so it works fine under Linux.
  • I was looking for a pad for just the same purpose. Everyone keeps hyping USB console pad adapters, but I personally like keeping my console pads and my PC pads separate. The only thing I use my PC gamepad for is emulators, so that was critical in buying one. I have to recommend the Logitech Dual Action [logitech.com] out of the ones you listed - cheap, durable, easy to set up, feels great, durable (I throw mine around a lot)... did I mention durable? The included software is teh suck so I didn't bother with it. XP foun
  • I'd get a PSX-USB adaptor. The Playstation controller's layout is essentially the same as the SNES', adding analog sticks and two more shoulder buttons, so it's great for SNES games. As for other systems, I'd think it'd be a little akward with Genesis/Saturn(not too much experience with those, though) and I know it's a little akward for N64 games. Still, if you already have a Dual Shock lying around, it's a great deal.
  • I have been on a similar quest, and found that the original SNES gamepad is the best...go to www.deepdarksea.com to order a SNES gamepad adapter. It works as advertised! Before I got that I was using a Logitech Wingman Wireless rumblepad, a heck of a unit witha excellent directional pad but it has some quirks that make it unusable in certain emulators (something to do with the analog controls on it.)
  • Most of the posts so far have been about windows gamepads and usb adapters. I really only want to use my ps2 gamepads since i already have them and they are perfect for just about everything except arkanoid, the problem is I still have no idea which adapters work with emulators running on OSX (esp macmame, snes9xcustom, bannister's emulators.) If anybody can point me in the right direction that'd be sweet.

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