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What do you consider the best vintage joystick for the Atari 2600/7800?


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The vintage joysticks that I own are the Wico Famous Red Ball, Wico bat handle, Wico Ergostick, Epyx 500XJ, The Arcade Joystick by Suzo, Captain Grant, Gemini Gemstick Pro, BP joystick, Atari CX40 and last but not least, the ZipStik. Out of all of these my favorite is the Europe only ZipStik. It's all mcroswitched, built like a tank and has the sweetest clicky short throw action. Number 2 is my all microswitched version of the Arcade Joystick by Suzo.

zipstik.jpg

arcade joystick suzo.jpg

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30 minutes ago, intellicolecovisonary said:

The worst Atari compatible joystick I own is hands down the Commodore Model 1311. After 15 minutes of play with this non responsive stick with a cruelly triangular shaped handle my hand hurt big time.

1311-joystick (1).jpg

I can second this.  It's awful.  In addition to bein unresponsive, the placement of that button is cruel.  

 

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Well I'm pretty partial to the Epyx 500xj myself. I do like the feel of the slick stick and the TAC-2, but the TAC-2 fire buttons needing constant cleaning really turns me off them. Most of my game playing now is using a modified NES controller but there are some games where I feel a joystick is still be to use. I also have one of those 'Industrial' looking controllers from Newport controls that I think were popular with the Atari 8-bit crowd in the 80s? I've two of them and they work okay but kinda unwieldy to hold onto when using them.

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The Epx 500xj is a great, albeit unusually shaped joystick, but I slightly prefer my Wico Ergostick that still has a nice soft rubbery feel to it, I heard some got rather sticky over the years. The actual control with both the Epyx 500xj and the Wico Ergostick functions exactly the same to me, possibly being the same stick rubberized and rebranded 

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19 minutes ago, intellicolecovisonary said:

I'd like to get a Competion Pro 5000 joystick but I want the microswitched version, not the leaf switched version and I don't know how to tell one from the other unless you open them up or get it NIB.

comp5000.jpg

While not a certainty, most leaf switches don't really made any sound when they are activated and also lack tactile feel compared to the positive detent and click you get from micro switches.

At least, that is how it is in the arcade world.

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Posted (edited)

It's the same in every joystick world but it still makes buying one on eBay risky. I could ask the seller if it sounds 'clicky' but that might be subjective as I can manage to make some mighty 'clicky' sounding sounds with a leaf switch joystick by banging it into restricter gate and I don't want to pay $50-100 and be stuck with leaf switches. I have more leaf switch joystick than anyone really needs.

25 minutes ago, CrossBow said:

While not a certainty, most leaf switches don't really made any sound when they are activated and also lack tactile feel compared to the positive detent and click you get from micro switches.

At least, that is how it is in the arcade world.

 

Edited by intellicolecovisonary
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Update: I bought 2 Competition Pro joysticks, one with a black balltop handle and 1 with a red handle. After opening them up for cleaning I discovered that the black one is the earlier leaf switch version and the red one is the later micro switched version. On all the teardown videos I've seen all the red ones are micro switches and the black ones leaf switches. Other than the color of the handles they look identical on the outside..

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Downdate: I just now saw a UK repair video on a black handled Competion Pro that has micro switches, yet the one I own that looks identical on the outside has leaf switches. Other than the red hand, my micro switched Competion Pro also looks looks identical on the outside. Other than having it in your hand I wonder if there are any other ways to identify the micro switch version from the leaf swich version.

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Back in the 80s and 90s, my favorite was the Wico Redball. I still have my original, one of the very few 80s items that I've managed to hold on to. I tried several others (Wico Bat stick, Wico Boss, Slik Stick, TAC-2, QuickShot, Kraft...) but none dethroned the Redball. I tried it again last year, but it has now been dethroned by 2600/7800 microswitch joysticks made by Retrogameboyz. Everything else feels mushy in comparison. It uses no-name parts, and the price reflects it, but I've had no issues so far (a year).

 

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Just yesterday I tuned up the leaf switches and replaced the grommets in both my Wico Red Ball and bat handle. I like both the Wico sticks but my preference is the bat handle. For some reason it just works better for me than the red ball but the red ball looks cooler.  https://www.arcadeshop.com/i/1061/robotron-joystick-centering-grommet.htm

Edited by intellicolecovisonary
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14 hours ago, socrates63 said:

Back in the 80s and 90s, my favorite was the Wico Redball. I still have my original, one of the very few 80s items that I've managed to hold on to. I tried several others (Wico Bat stick, Wico Boss, Slik Stick, TAC-2, QuickShot, Kraft...) but none dethroned the Redball. I tried it again last year, but it has now been dethroned by 2600/7800 microswitch joysticks made by Retrogameboyz. Everything else feels mushy in comparison. It uses no-name parts, and the price reflects it, but I've had no issues so far (a year).

 

I've been thinking about grabbing on of the Retrogameboyz sticks, but I have one concern.  It doesn't look like you can hold/use it with just two hands.  It has to be set down on a table or something.  I know that's not a huge problem, but in my current setup, I don't have a tabletop to play on.  What do you think, @socrates63?

PS - I have a retrogameboyz gamepad, and it is excellent.  I use that a lot. 

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