So my official Sega Genesis 6-button arcade stick has been slowly dying, and I was recently on ebay searching for a suitable replacement. I was originally intent on simply replacing the joystick with another of the same model, but during my search I saw a listing for a product that caught my eye.
I had never heard of this stick before (although the maker, innovation, was big into peripherals during the genesis and snes days) and it's generic name - "Arcade stick" - made finding any info on it impossible. I tried asking around on the most hardcore retrogaming sites I could find, and no one had heard of this stick before. I figured it was one of those types of arcade sticks you could only order from the back of EGMs or something, hence the lack of info. The images provided on the auction made the stick itself look decidedly low quality, but one point particular on the box caught my eye: "Turbo Duo support."
The turbo duo, a turbo grafx + turbo CD upgrade, normally has only 2 buttons. A 3 button pad was released for the Super Grafx upgrade, but wasn't widely supported. In japan, along-side the release of Street Fighter II' (which is an excellent port, btw), NEC released a now-uncommon 6-button pad called the Avenue 6. Only a few games support it, but they're among the best on the system, namely Fatal Fury Special, Art of Fighting, and Street Fighter II'. Now, I already have an avenue pad 6, and it does it's job well enough. But a sega genesis 6-button controller it is not - it's pretty boxy and the button spacing feels weird. In short, it's not very fun to play with, which makes playing killer arcade ports on my Turbo Duo a chore. The official turbo duo joystick only has 2 buttons, and I had never, ever seen a single arcade stick for the duo, let alone one in a 6-button configuration. I took the plunge and bought the thing based on turbo duo support alone.
Well, it arrived a few days ago, and this is the greatest video game accessory purchase I've ever made. The ebay listing doesn't really describe how the unit works, or how you can make it work with a Neo Geo, Sega Genesis, Super NES, or Turbo Duo, but they really should have. See, the image on the box isn't really the controller. What you get is a very clunky, plastic joystick with extremely shallow microswitches, and a bat/ball hybrid joystick that feels way too stiff. The button spacing on this joystick is awkward and uncomfortable.
But that's not the heart of the product. Rather, the real meat of the controller is this baby right here:
it's a small grey box which, on one end, has a universal 15-pin D plug, and on the other end, a cable which plugs into the included plastic joystick. This grey box houses the insides for the controller. Taking the joystick apart reveals it's nothing more than a bunch of microswitches wired up to a 15-pin port on the front, where the box connects. To use this thing on your console, you plug the grey box into the joystick, then you take one of 4 provided adapters - one for the genesis, one for the SNES, one for the turbo duo, and one for the neo geo - and run it between the console and the box.
Now, the uninspired might see and hear this and think it's nothing more than an ugly, albeit functional joystick. But the hobbiest will see this as a goddamn gold mine. First up, if you have any experience with actual arcade equipment or building your own arcade stick, you should instantly see the immense value in this thing. Because the joystick and buttons are essentially removable from the core "brains" of the controller, it's obscenely easy to build your own joystick. In fact, I simply took the joystick for my MAS Supernova, and built a quick and easy converter to plug it into the grey box, meaning I can now play my Genesis, Super NES, Turbo Duo, and Neo Geo AES games with this:
that alone would make this stick worth buying to the retro enthusist, but that's not why I made the claim made in the topic title. See, the ability to connect this thing to a Super NES opens a whole can of worms, because a variety of Super NES joypad converters have been made for a variety of systems. Case in point - I have a SNES->3DO converter, and my arcade stick now works with my 3DO.
What really sets this controller over the edge is one of these easily obtainable SNES->USB converters that one can buy from a place like retrousb. That converter makes this joystick the greatest I ever bought, as I can now use it with both my PC, and PS3. And, again, to make my point clear - the nature of this joystick, with it's essentially detachable buttons and stick, means that you can easily build custom arcade sticks of any configuration with absolutely no soldering required.
It's an incredible feeling to play Mortal Kombat on my Sega CD with one controller, then to go into the other room and play Mortal Kombat on my PS3 with the same controller.
to recap, this one joystick works, with the help of adapters, with the following:
-Neo Geo AES
-Atari 2600 & 7800
and probably more, the sky's the limit thanks to SNES compatibility. These things are still for sale on ebay - the dude selling them apparently found a warehouse full of them and is selling them on his store on ebay with no apparent limit in stock. I won't post a link for fear of shilling, but I'll say, without hesitation, that this is the best controller I've ever personally paid money for, bar none. An incredible hidden gem that I felt needed to be recommended.
Oh yeah, and the thing offers slow-mo and turbo fire support too. Added bonus.
EDIT: Oh yeah, forgot to add that, by virtue of being a Sega Genesis controller, it also works with basically any Atari console (save the jaguar and 5200) and the Amiga as well.