Over the last few years a new phenomenon has emerged on the PC. Emulators. Whether for your favorite old arcade games or old 8-bit console titles, emulation is definitely here to stay and is a big factor in many gamers' lives, mine included. Emulators like MAME and Kawaks offer perfect renditions of old arcade favorites from Pacman to Mortal Kombat. The only thing missing is the arcade cabinet... Happily, someone out there agrees with me and that someone is X-Gaming.
Over the last few years a new phenomenon has emerged on the PC. Emulators. Whether for your favorite old arcade games or old 8-bit console titles, emulation is definitely here to stay and is a big factor in many gamers' lives, mine included. Emulators like MAME and Kawaks offer perfect renditions of old arcade favorites from Pacman to Mortal Kombat. The only thing missing is the arcade cabinet. Mad uncle George always told me 'use the right tool for the job' but then mad Uncle George also claimed that he was the reincarnation of Marie Antoinette so what did he know? He was right about the tools though. You wouldn't use a screwdriver to pound nails and you wouldn't use your Dremel to trim your toenails, yet people still persist in using the wrong tools for old school gaming. A gamepad just won't cut it for playing Defender and just try doing "half circle forward" fighting game combos on a keyboard. Providing the audio visual arcade experience is one thing but the tactile feedback is just as much a part of the retro gaming experience. While some people have gone the whole hog and constructed their own arcade cabinets not everyone has room for one of these behemoths in their living room. A middle ground must found. Happily, someone out there agrees with me and that someone is X-Gaming.
The X-Arcade controller certainly wasn't the first arcade controller on the market but it does have one very important feature that the others lack. Programmability. Previous products have usually come out of the box set up for MAME and done it rather well. That would be great if MAME were the only thing I wanted to use my controller for but I use more than one emulator encompassing a host of different arcade and console systems. This being the case the X-Arcade seemed the ideal choice and I was eager to get some hands-on experience.
Many of the arcade controllers I've seen in the past have been made to order items from specialized builders. The problem with that is that construction quality and presentation have been patchy at best. It was a nice surprise therefore to see the X-Arcade come in a nice box with proper packaging and great presentation. This would look at home on any store shelf. Sliding the unit out of its box the first thing that strikes you is the weight of this thing. I'm glad I don't have to carry it around. The main unit is reassuringly heavy and feels remarkably solid and well made. If first impressions count, then the X-Arcade is off to a flying start. Also included in the box are a pair of hookup cables and a hefty large format instruction manual.
Glancing over the control panel we have one and two player start buttons, two 8-way joysticks and no less than sixteen (count 'em) buttons. Around the side of the unit are two buttons perfectly placed to act as flipper buttons for pinball games or emulators and on the back is a single button and a four way sliding switch for programming. Phew, that's one boat load of buttons right there. Even the most complex games should be catered for.
The construction of the panel is high quality particle board overlaid with a nice textured black laminate finished off with black T-Molding around the edges. All in all it could have come right off an arcade cabinet and the fit and finish of the components is excellent. On the bottom you will find six rubber feet which suggest the X-Arcade is going to stay put during frenzied Robotron sessions. Unscrewing the feet allows you to pull off the back panel and take a look inside. Wiring is neat and well ordered and everything is placed just right for easy maintenance. The controls themselves are all the same controls that are used in the arcades and therefore are designed to withstand years of abuse with trouble free operation and to be easily repairable and replaceable. Well, that about wraps up the physical attributes, lets plug it in.
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