The Need For Solid Arcade Controls
One of the initial motivations for getting a Dreamcast was its wide selection of fighting games such as Marvel vs. Capcom, Soul Calibur, and Street Fighter Alpha 3. However, once I tried bringing the arcade fighting experience home, I was very disappointed with the button layout with the standard Dreamcast controller.
The 4-button layout works fine for Soul Calibur, Virtua Fighter 3tb, and the SNK fighters, but die-hard Capcom players need a nice 6-button layout. And of course, neither the analog stick or D-pad did justice for controlling your fighter.
While I am not a 2D shooter expert, I know many shmup fans will agree that a solid joystick is needed for precise movements while navigating though the Dreamcast’s expansive shooter library.
You Get What You Pay For
Being eager to get my arcade fighting fix, I quickly drove over to my local Gamestop store. They had a rather inexpensive joystick, but one I got it home, it felt even cheaper than the price tag indicated. After searching around online I noticed there was quite a selection of third-party Dreamcast arcade sticks out there, but all of them looked to be about the same quality as the piece of junk I picked up.
However, I did notice some people talking about an “official” joystick that was made by Agetec instead of Sega themselves. It turns out that Sega did not manufacture their own arcade stick like they did with the Virtua Stick for the Saturn, but instead choose the Agetec joystick as the official arcade stick of the Dreamcast. (If you look at some of the game manuals for fighting games, primarily SNK fighters, you will see the Agetec stick featured in the pictures.)
Even though the Agetec arcade stick is a bit more expensive than the alternatives, it is worth every penny. The stick originally retailed for $49.99 and has maintained that value over the years. On eBay and other online sources, you will typically have to pay another $10-15 for shipping costs, but the total price is still an excellent value for this quality.
Agetec’s Solid Construction & Precise Controls
The Agetec Arcade Stick features a heavy duty metal base for stability, six large buttons in a traditional arcade layout, and a fully micro-switched (same as commercial arcade machines), Japanese-style arcade stick that will stand up to the heaviest competition.
The only thing that keeps the Agetec joystick from highest praise is that the buttons aren’t micro-switched as well. This isn’t a deal-breaker, however as the buttons are still very responsive and feel great.
The Arcade Joystick is tightly fitted with a steel plate at the bottom to give it a bit of weight which gives it that quality feel. The main body of the unit is also made of a very hard and thick plastic to improve its durability. This is a stark contrast to the cheaper joysticks that I have dealt with that had rather flimsy plastic construction with a metal plate screwed in just to make it heavier. On the Agetec stick, there are also 4 sponge pads on the bottom that prevent the stick from sliding when you have it on a table top.
In addition to the tight controls and bulky fit, there is also a VMU slot so you can save your games. However, keep this in mind: do not put a Nexus 4MBIT or any other unofficial VMU in to this stick’s slot because you’ll have quite a challenge getting them back out !!
As with nearly every other Dreamcast joystick, there is not an analog stick included so not all games are compatible with the joystick.
Excellent Value, But Becoming Scarce
The Agetec Dreamcast Arcade Stick is not only the best native, mass-produced Dreamcast stick out there, but it is one of the best “official” arcade sticks available for a home console. Even for newer consoles, it is hard to find quality that rivals this joystick, especially for its reasonable price.
Since most Dreamcast fans are holding onto their arcade stick it is getting a bit harder to find them, even on eBay. So if you are in the market for one and have $50-60 available, I would recommend snatching one up when you have the chance.
- Japanese-style, Micro-switched Arcade Stick
- 6 Large & Responsive Buttons
- Thick and Solid Plastic Case
- Design Consistent Official Dreamcast Hardware
- Steel Plate on Base with Corner Pads
- VMU Slot with Window for VMU Screen
- Sells For $50-60 USD on eBay
Also, if you’re a Dreamcast owner, be sure to check out the Sega Dreamcast VGA cable in the Racketboy Store