Jump to content

Photo

Why change the joystick?


30 replies to this topic

#1 Velvis ONLINE  

Velvis

    Chopper Commander

  • 102 posts

Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:58 AM

The original Atari joystick seems perfect to me. Other than adding more buttons, why did so many companies make awful controllers until the NES came around?

 

Intellivision, Colecovision, the 5200 took everything that was great about the OG stick and removed it.

 

Even today the original stick is iconic. 

 

Just a thought that came to me...



#2 HawkMines OFFLINE  

HawkMines

    Chopper Commander

  • 139 posts
  • Someone make Gyruss for the 7800 pls.
  • Location:The 4th Dimension

Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:14 PM

The original joystick to me always felt unrefined, uncomfortable, and unresponsive. Joysticks by Wico and Suncom always seemed more comfortable and responsive in comparison. I've also heard that the original joysticks were also rather unreliable, though no where near extent that the 5200 controller was.

 

There's also the additional features that could come from it, like autofire, and turbo. Companies were still adding those on controllers in the NES days.

 

Another reason is that some companies saw money and shoved crap into stores because it would sell.


Edited by HawkMines, Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:16 PM.


#3 accousticguitar OFFLINE  

accousticguitar

    Quadrunner

  • 6,518 posts
  • Sherlock made it to 15 before he left us.
  • Location:Idaho

Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:31 PM

The original CX-40 played fairly well but it could be broken if handled to roughly. Also, it wore out eventually after extended use. And besides that some people just didn't like it very much. So, replacements were necessary, and various companies decided to compete with Atari by manufacturing their own joysticks. Some of these, like the TAC-2, were excellent products. Others, sadly, were even more fragile than the original CX-40s.



#4 VectorGamer OFFLINE  

VectorGamer

    Go Sleep In the Cold

  • 13,196 posts
  • \m/
  • Location:Retrocade, USA

Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:32 PM

 

Intellivision, Colecovision, the 5200 took everything that was great about the OG stick and removed it.

 

 

What is an "OG stick"?

 

Intellivision has the worst controllers - I'm not going to defend it. Absolutely wretched.

 

The ColecoVision and the 5200 controllers get a lot of hate but I don't either of them are that bad. I would say the CV controllers are better out of the two.

 

How else would you design a two button controller with a numeric keypad while maintaining a compact design?



#5 mr_me OFFLINE  

mr_me

    Stargunner

  • 1,661 posts
  • Location:Ontario

Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:33 PM

The 2600 joystick gave me blisters. For joysticks to work properly they should be fixed to a platform and not handheld. The Intellivision thumb pad was very comfortable but the side buttons were too stiff. Colecovision is still a handheld joystick and side button placement was awkward for two button games. In 1983 japan, nintendo had their thumb pad and sega a joystick. Nintendo considered joysticks but saved money and time by borrowing the game and watch controls. Sega quickly switched to a pad, and the rest is history.

The intellivision and nes thumb pads are similar. The intellivision does have twice the precision/directions. The Intellivision is not the best for certain 8-way games (neither is the nes); but its 16 directions excel in games with open fields ie. adventure games, sports games.

How does the 7800 joystick compare to the 2600 joystick?

Edited by mr_me, Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:38 PM.


#6 spacecadet OFFLINE  

spacecadet

    River Patroller

  • 2,123 posts

Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:52 PM

The original Atari joystick seems perfect to me. Other than adding more buttons, why did so many companies make awful controllers until the NES came around?

 

That's a loaded question, because the assumption behind it seems to be that they *intended* to make awful controllers. Obviously they didn't. They intended to improve on what came before, which is all anybody ever does. Otherwise there's no point even releasing a new system.

 

The Intellivision, ColecoVision and Atari 5200 all had keypad-based controllers with more than one fire button. That was supposed to allow for more complex games than the simple stuff that came before. The Intellivision controller, at least, was very good at that purpose, and *many* Intellivision games use the keypad extensively. A lot of Intellivision games just wouldn't be possible at all on the Atari 2600 without an external keypad adapter and a Y cable. (Not sure if there is such a thing, but maybe there could be.) Lots of games for all these systems use more than one fire button.

 

This is not different than what happens now, where there's often a clear trend in the industry that everyone follows because that trend allows for either some new gaming feature that everyone wants to have, or just more complex games. You saw this with the adoption of optical media, internal hard drives, dual analog sticks and shoulder buttons on gamepads, etc.

 

You can't expect the game industry to just be stagnant. It never has been. You can celebrate the good things about older systems, and maybe the 2600 stick is one of the things you like about it, but you can't really expect console manufacturers to copy and stick with that design forever. It was a design with huge limitations for the types of games you could play with it.



#7 Mephitblue OFFLINE  

Mephitblue

    Space Invader

  • 35 posts

Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:54 PM

How does the 7800 joystick compare to the 2600 joystick?

 

I just got a 7800 joystick and I find that my hand holding the controller gets cramped with any prolonged use.  The buttons also don't feel as responsive to me as the 2600 button.  I really notice it in games like Joust where you need to press one of the buttons a lot.

 

I will say that I can understand what they were trying to do.  How do you make a handheld controller that has more than one fire button?  A gamepad does this, but you lose the precision a joystick gives you.  You probably need to look to the first controllers with a thumbstick for something that is handheld, supports two buttons well and comes close to the precision of a joystick.



#8 AW127 OFFLINE  

AW127

    Chopper Commander

  • 219 posts
  • Location:Germany

Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:18 PM

When the Competition Pro Joysticks came out in the middle of the 80`s, i bought one and then in about one week, i broke all records in my Atari-2600 and C64 games. These solid and precise joysticks and how they fit perfectly in my hand, was optimal for me and also for many of my friends back in time.

But this is a matter of taste, because today when i play sometimes Atari-2600 games against my 10-year old godson, then he uses a PSX-gamepad which is connected on the Atari with a controller-adapter. He can play much better with a gamepad and i with a joystick. It`s how you have grown up with.

But i win most times, haha. :) Because, what you played from childhood on, you never unlearn and i never made a real pause in playing my favorite Atari-2600 games. When my Atari VCS-2600 was put away for some years, i played my favorite-games in software-emulators on the PC (of course with controller-adapters).

#9 Velvis ONLINE  

Velvis

    Chopper Commander

  • Topic Starter
  • 102 posts

Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:52 PM

I guess to me the idea of a stick is way better than the disc on intellivision or the little stick on the coleco.

 

seems like the 5200 stick would be perfect if it self centered.



#10 tdp OFFLINE  

tdp

    Chopper Commander

  • 100 posts

Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:58 PM

Recommend the following joysticks:-

 

For fast paced/twitch games - Suzo the Arcade, zip stick, competition pro, the cruiser

For adventure, platform, non-twitch games -  Suzo the Arcade, zip stick, competition pro, the cruiser

For decathlon and track n field The Cheetah 125+ (just hold the base and shake for record times)

For millipede - the 2600 trackball - true arcade feel

For decoration in your gaming room - the atari original joystick (cos they look cool)


Edited by tdp, Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:59 PM.


#11 KaeruYojimbo OFFLINE  

KaeruYojimbo

    Stargunner

  • 1,202 posts
  • Location:Portland, OR

Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:08 PM

Another thing to keep in mind that this was the infancy of home video games, so companies were still trying to figure out what worked. A stick and a button worked great for simple arcade-style games, but not much for more complex games (which on the 2600 led to the many variations of the keypad controller or control schemes using the console switches). On paper, the Intellivision controller looks like a great solution. 16 directions, 3 fire buttons and a numeric keypad. They wanted to kill every possible metaphorical bird with this one stone. By the time the NES came around, on-screen menus were becoming common, so it became possible to move some of those buttons off the controller and return to a simpler design.



#12 edladdin OFFLINE  

edladdin

    Moonsweeper

  • 398 posts
  • Location:Athens, Georgia, USA

Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:05 PM

This is a topic I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about.

My favorite of the OEM joysticks is still the CX-40, but it's lack of more than the one button is a significant limitation in so many games. And even this stick is painful to use for long, especially at this age, and especially for shooters and other games with a ton of button presses.

The CX-40, CX-53, and CX-24 Pro-Line controllers all have the ergonomic problem that you have to use the fingers and heel of your left hand to clamp onto the controller body, while your thumb needs to remain free and loose to tap very quickly. And then you use your right hand on the actual joystick, which is applying lateral force that fights against the left hand. The Pain-Lines are worse because the second button being on the opposite site really requires you to clamp onto the housing with the weakest three fingers so the index is loose to work that right button.

The gamepads are more comfortable because both hands work together to hold the controller and the lateral forces are almost nonexistent, with no joystick to provide that levering action. But IMHO, even they don't hold a candle to the control panel on an arcade/coin-op machine, where zero effort is dedicated to holding onto the housing, so you can use a feather light touch on just the controls. Likewise, an arcade panel provides far more intuitive use of your fingers. You would NEVER choose to use your thumb to drive a fire button, and especially not with a squeezing motion. Vastly easier to tap downward with a fingertip!

All of this is why we never looked hard at offering a smaller, less-expensive handheld controller for the 2600/7800. They HAVE to be in cases wide and heavy enough that they sit still in your lap or on the table. Then you only have to apply that light touch to the controls themselves, just like in the arcade.

#13 spacecadet OFFLINE  

spacecadet

    River Patroller

  • 2,123 posts

Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:55 PM

seems like the 5200 stick would be perfect if it self centered.

 

I agree, of the controllers with a "portrait" form factor (where they're vertically longer in the hand), the 5200 stick is the most comfortable and would have been really good if it was centering.

 

But I think that generally, controllers have continued to improve over time. An actual number pad turned out to be kind of unnecessary and its functions easily replicated by just more real buttons. But I find gamepads generally a lot more comfortable over long periods of gameplay than joysticks, and the contoured design of modern gamepads with ergonomically placed buttons and thumb sticks makes them a lot nicer to use too.

 

It's been a long process getting there, though, as manufacturers experimented with different things. I don't think we'd have gotten where we are now without the 5200/INTV/CV era of controllers, which really tried to push things far beyond what was possible with the VCS joystick. There was a lot of real innovation there, and even if these keypad-based designs weren't directly copied by later manufacturers, the idea of making a controller with more buttons and versatility to allow for more complex games definitely was inspired by that era.


Edited by spacecadet, Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:55 PM.


#14 LionHearted78 OFFLINE  

LionHearted78

    Space Invader

  • 33 posts
  • Special Assault Brigade for Real Emergencies
  • Location:Chicagoland

Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:00 PM

I never was a fan of the 2600 joysticks... they always felt VERY stiff. 

 

I liked what they tried to do with the 5200 analog sticks, like having a PAUSE feature...although the keys I could have done without. Just too bad that they were suited better for doorstops than they were gaming. 



#15 danny_galaga OFFLINE  

danny_galaga

    Moonsweeper

  • 389 posts
  • http://dannygalaga.com/shop.html
  • Location:Brisbane

Posted Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:54 PM

Original= Iconic, but horrible.



#16 davyK OFFLINE  

davyK

    Moonsweeper

  • 300 posts
  • Location:Northern Ireland

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:46 AM

I've always been surprised when I hear people saying they don't like the original joystick. I still find it an effective controller. The ones I have are pretty responsive. Though I'd be interested in getting them fitted with upgraded boards etc.

 

Also it's always nice to know that an MD/Genesis pad can always stand in if they fail; but there's nothing quite like the original stick for me.



#17 hizzy OFFLINE  

hizzy

    Dragonstomper

  • 644 posts
  • Location:Montreal, QC

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:58 AM

I'm a fan of the CX-40, especially withe the Best Electronic upgrades. Other handhelds are good, but each has a drawback. I like the Competition pro, but you can't change the tension of the stick. There is a rubber grommet that centers the stick. Same with the Wico sticks for the 2600. On a JLF, you can buy springs of various tensions and you can get the feel your're looking for. 



#18 Mr SQL OFFLINE  

Mr SQL

    Stargunner

  • 1,689 posts

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:23 AM

The OG stick works much better for precision maze games and makes a big difference with preemptive game play.

 

KCMD II features cooperative play with the AI so you really need the stick for precision response times, or the AI will make all the decisions:

 

http://atariage.com/...mini-cartridge/



#19 DrSidneyZweibel OFFLINE  

DrSidneyZweibel

    Star Raider

  • 61 posts

Posted Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:08 PM

My preference of retro era controllers for feel, comfort, and reliability/longevity, in order best to worst:

Coleco Gemini combo joystick/paddle
Suncom TAC-2
Amiga Powerstick
Epyx 500xj
Sega 6 button gamepad
Gemini Gemstick
Sega Master System gamepad
Atari CX-40
Atari 7800 Prostick


(Dead air)



NES gamepad
Atari 7800 europads
Atari 5200 joystick

Edited by DrSidneyZweibel, Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:27 PM.


#20 Cobra Commander OFFLINE  

Cobra Commander

    River Patroller

  • 3,059 posts
  • Location:Pensacola, Florida

Posted Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:35 AM

Original= Iconic, but horrible.

I agree. Horrible may be a bit generous though IMO. I hate them and refuse to use them. 



#21 vidak OFFLINE  

vidak

    Star Raider

  • 77 posts
  • Location:Sydney, Australia

Posted Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:37 PM

I'm a huge fan of the original Atari joystick. I grew up with a PS1 digital controller and I hated it. When I got an N64 a few years later I was so relieved to use its optical-based analogue stick.

But coming to use the VCS2600 when i was about 9 or 10 changed everything. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the design.

I realise it's quite a primitive design, and that we've come a long way in controller design, but I feel like Atari really got something right with the original joystick. I feel like modern controllers are too cluttered.

I am a huge opponent of current gameplay styles and concepts, and I think current controllers only serve to further those kinds of games. A key example I have is the new Yooka Laylee game. I am a huge fan of 3D platformers, but current XBOX One controllers are horrible for the gameplay metaphors in this genre of game.

In terms of simplicity and parsimony, I think the original VCS2600 controllers are really, really beautiful. I wish we had the same inventiveness and imaginativeness about game controllers today.

#22 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

Kosmic Stardust

    Princess Rescuer

  • 14,837 posts
  • Location:Milky Way Galaxy

Posted Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:48 PM

The original Atari joystick seems perfect to me. Other than adding more buttons, why did so many companies make awful controllers until the NES came around?

 

Intellivision, Colecovision, the 5200 took everything that was great about the OG stick and removed it.

 

Even today the original stick is iconic. 

 

Just a thought that came to me...

Microswitche arcade parts or GTFO. The original CX40 sucked. I recently improved upon the design a little. ;-)

 

Spoiler

 


The Intellivision, ColecoVision and Atari 5200 all had keypad-based controllers with more than one fire button. That was supposed to allow for more complex games than the simple stuff that came before. The Intellivision controller, at least, was very good at that purpose, and *many* Intellivision games use the keypad extensively. A lot of Intellivision games just wouldn't be possible at all on the Atari 2600 without an external keypad adapter and a Y cable. (Not sure if there is such a thing, but maybe there could be.) Lots of games for all these systems use more than one fire button.

I never understood the appeal of keypad controllers. The Atari CX-40 was elegant in concept but lacking in execution. Then the numeric pads were just confusing. Back to the CX-40, there is really no mass market substitute for an arcade stick. If it's good, it will be expensive, so sacrifices were made, and some of these sacrifices are not fondly remembered.

 

The next big revolution was the Nintendo Famicom / NES Dpad. The Dpad was originally developed for Game-N-Watch handhelds but it worked so well that with a few refinements, it became the defacto standard for many years. The game pad was cheap, responsive, and durable. For most consumer joysticks during the pre-crash era, as a manufacturer you get to pick two out of the three options. A cheap, durable joystick was not responsive. A responsive, durable joystick was not cheap. And a cheap, responsive joystick might have been the best thing on earth, until it broke after light use... :P



#23 Torr OFFLINE  

Torr

    Dragonstomper

  • 999 posts
  • Location:Newfoundland, Canada

Posted Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:33 AM

Iconic is the word.

I remember when mine broke... (my first one)

Even though I didn't like it (I already 'upgraded' to a QuikShot and the original was now Player 2) I was upset.. the Atari just didn't look right set up on top of the TV (floor console model) without THAT joystick beside it. I may have hated using it, but I sure missed looking at it!!!



#24 Swami OFFLINE  

Swami

    Moonsweeper

  • 355 posts

Posted Sun Jul 16, 2017 1:06 AM

 

What is an "OG stick"?

 

Intellivision has the worst controllers - I'm not going to defend it. Absolutely wretched.

 

The ColecoVision and the 5200 controllers get a lot of hate but I don't either of them are that bad. I would say the CV controllers are better out of the two.

 

How else would you design a two button controller with a numeric keypad while maintaining a compact design?

The Co-sticklers or ball-tops help a lot with the Colecovision handheld, surprisingly. I should like the Super Action Controller more, I would think, but it strikes me as big and weird.



#25 AtariKid81 OFFLINE  

AtariKid81

    Star Raider

  • 87 posts
  • Location:Casselberry, FL

Posted Sun Jul 16, 2017 6:46 AM

I love the CX-40 - always have! I grew up in the early Atari era. I can't remember anyone who didn't like it - parents included.
As far as durability goes, I've never seen one broken(as a kid). Only after 20 some-odd years, did one of mine finally give up the ghost. I think, for the most part, you'd have to be rather forceful to break one(back in the day).
Personally, I never liked controller pads, like used with the NES or Sega. To me, a joystick is the only way to go.




0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users