I’m playing quite a lot on both my Commodore 64 and my Amiga 500 lately and I notice that my joysticks are showing some age and don’t register every movement as precise as they once did. I have a brown “The Arcade” joystick made by Suzo for my C64 and a black one for the A500. The black one I have kept with me for more than 25 years. Both have a steel shaft and mechanical switches for the stick and leaf switches for the fire button.
I have another black one with a micro switched button, but I have set it aside, because the joystick doesn’t go “up” anymore. So I opened it up to see what the problem is and it seems that one of the wires has come loose. Maybe that’s an easy fix. I remembered that I also have another one in storage and I seemed to remember that that was an Arcade one with an additional fire button on top of the joystick. I don’t like that one, because I never use the top button and like to have the palm of my hand wrapped around the ball top of the joystick. I figured that I could easily switch the lead of that one out with the faulty one.
As I opened the box however, I was surprised to see that another black Arcade joystick with only one button was inside. This one also has a mechanical fire button and this one actually is the other one that I have kept with me for more than 25 years from my first (secondhand) Amiga 500 I ever owned. This one was working flawlessly as I discovered while playing one of my favorite platformers: The Addams Family. One of the reasons this platformer plays so well on the Amiga is that it uses fire for jump.
In little than no time I had played for more than twenty minutes and was actually already getting quite far in the game. I figured that that was due to the tight controls and the responsiveness of the joystick.
So now I must use on of the other defective joysticks as a donor for the one with the loose wires, maybe it will work again and I will have two joysticks back in good working order. Both with mechanical fire buttons. I think I will put it in the brown housing, because I like to have two different colors for two different systems.
Realizing that these joysticks, while sturdy, don’t have eternal life, I would also be interested in getting new joysticks to mess around with. A couple of days ago I had thought about getting an Tom+ adapter to connect a Wii Tatsunoko vs Capcom fight stick that I had bought a new Wii-USB adapter for. Now, however, I figured that one of the reasons that I don’t like fight sticks very much is that they all have the joystick on the left hand side. I much prefer it on the right hand side. Then another thought occurred to me: What if I simply hold the fight stick upside down so the joystick is on the right hand side. I tried holding it that way and it actually doesn’t feel weird. Maybe, if I open it up and turn the stick upside down, I’ll get the desired effect.
Another way to go would be to get a new dedicated joystick for retro computers like the Mini Monster Retro Gaming Joystick. This has the advantage that it has less buttons that get in the way and it has the option to set the second button as “up for jump”. Although I have the 64JPX adapter which does the same. I don’t especially like the acrylic housing though and I’m a little afraid that it won’t be very comfortable.
Before I decide about that, though I’m going to test the newly put together brown The Arcade joystick on my C64 playing the excellent Doc Cosmos.