Quote:
Originally posted by jonceramame:
So, all in all, the 3-in-1 PC Joybox is a good console adapter. For standard controllers, it's a slam dunk. For non-standard controllers, buyer beware.
I can add to your tests that the Japanese white Saturn Virtua Stick works very well with this adaptor, as well. I might as well segue into a review here, while I'm at it.

Sega Saturn Virtua Stick (white second model)

It goes for about 10-20$ cheaper than the Agetec stick, you mention, and, since it has two more buttons has a better button layout for SNK fighting games.

The stick is unfortunately square gate, which is less comfortable for SNK and Capcom-style fighting games than octagonal gate joysticks. However, very few home sticks have octagonal gates; the only ones I can think of offhand are Hori's exceptionally expensive Real Arcade Pro sticks and one relatively rare stick from Sammy. That said, the square gate can be gotten used to, and I've found it sufficiently comfortable for Last Blade 2 and other SNK fighters. The joystick on mine is a bit loose; from what I can tell, it's a bit hit or miss whether it will be loose or tight.

The buttons are nice enough, if nothing too exceptional. They get the job done without any problems, although particularly dedicated joystick fans probably won't be satisfied with anything other than Sanwa or Happ buttons. The layout is very nice. Unlike the Agetec stick, which has only six buttons in a Capcom layout, the Saturn's Virtua Stick has eight buttons. Six are in the standard Capcom layout, while the other two are placed at angles to the left and right of this, which makes for a very nice four- or five-button layout, for games set up that way. I've used it comfortably with SNK and Capcom fighting games, along with various other arcade games. Unless your needs are very specific, this layout should be quite sufficient.

It's worth noting that, unlike most American-made joysticks, the button layout is quite ergonomic, and the buttons are placed a bit closer together. This may not make a difference to all people, but for women like myself and other people with smaller hands, the layout is very comfortable, unlike typical American joysticks, which tend to be designed for larger hands.

I've taken a look inside the case, and it looks like it would be fairly easy to mod with a superior Sanwa stick. At that cost, however, it would probably be more cost-effective to buy a Hori Real Arcade Pro and a PlayStation --> USB adaptor instead.

If you don't care that much about the shape of the stick's gate, or have a Saturn however,, the Virtua Stick is a nice, solid, and relatively inexpensive choice. I bought mine on eBay for around 30$ or so, which seems to be a fairly average price.

Sega Saturn USB control pad

This is rebuilt from Sega's Japanese digital Saturn gamepads, which were also used for the model 2 Saturns outside Japan. These have a very well-deserved reputation for being the best digital-only pads around. If you've already used one on the Saturn, you know what to expect.

The shape is comfortable and fits in the hand nicely. It's designed in a slight M shape, so the claws fit well in the curve of the hands and index fingers can curl comfortably over the shoulders.

The d-pad is probably the best part about the pad. It's the same d-pad used in Sega's Nights pad. It's made of a slightly softer plastic than most, and has rounded edges at the end, which makes it much less chafing than most d-pads are. It feels quite solid, and works well for quick motions in action games.

The buttons are standard button fare; there's not much to be said for gamepad buttons. For what they are, they're quite nice; comfortable, and quick response. Unlike most modern gamepads, there are six face buttons instead of four, arranged in two rows of three. This probably won't make much of a difference for most people, but for Capcom fans it's much nicer than having to use shoulder buttons to supplement four face buttons. There are two shoulder buttons as well, which, thanks to the controller design mentioned before, are comfortable to hold and press.

Overall, this is an excellent controller, and I'd highly recommend it for anyone who doesn't want a gamepad with an analogue joystick. The USB version generally goes for about 35-40$ USD at stores like Play-Asia and Lik-Sang. If you already have a PlayStation --> USB adaptor, there is a PlayStation 2 version for 30-33$ USD. Alternately, the Mac version of Puyo Puyo Fever, which sells at the Himeya Shop for 89$ USD, comes with an iPod-coloured USB version pad.

Microsoft Controller S

I was very surprised when I tried out this gamepad; I wasn't expecting anything nearly as good as this turned out to be. It feels as though Microsoft has picked up quite a bit from Sega.

The Controller S's design is much more ergonomic than the original Xbox controller, which was definitely a deservedly-maligned design. Like most recent gamepads it has thick claws to hold; it feels quite comfortable, and fits nicely in my hands. Thankfully, Microsoft hasn't copied Sony's design for placement of the d-pad and left thumbstick; both are easily reachable, and the thumbstick, which is going to be more often used by most people, is in the most convenient position. My only complaint here would be that the triggers feel like they're in a slightly awkward position at first, although it's not really noticeable after a bit.

The analogue stick is very, very comfortable. I don't usually prefer them so strongly, but the Controller S's thumbstick is extremely good. Unlike Nintendo's and the Dreamcast's, it doesn't have uncomfortable designs on the surface, and unlike Sony's it has an indented surface that makes it easier to keep the thumb on securely. It has a nice tight feel; this doesn't make a huge difference, but I find that it gives a little extra control. I usually don't use analogue sticks for 2D games, but I've found, to my surprise, that the Controller S's works extremely well for shooters like Metal Slug and, especially, fighting games; I've tried it primarily with SNK games. It might not suit everyone, however.

The d-pad is also quite nice, which is a bit surprising since Microsoft might easily have skimped on it. It feels somewhat of a successor to Sega's Japanese Saturn d-pads, and retains that soft feeling. Unfortunately, Microsoft has gone for sharper edges than Sega did, which makes it a bit less comfortable. It still works very well, however, and is fast and accurate. It's somewhat less comfortably positioned than the analogue stick, but that probably couldn't be helped.

Although there are technically six face buttons (four main buttons plus the black and white buttons), realistically you will only use four of them. The black and white buttons are so badly-positioned that they are very uncomfortable to use. The white button cannot be reached at all without moving the thumb off of the four main buttons, although the black button can, somewhat awkwardly, be reached by rolling the thumb back off of the A button.

The four buttons you can reach are quite nicely-designed however. There's nothing at all special about the standard cross layout, but it works. They feel a bit more rounded at the top than some other gamepad's buttons, but this doesn't really impact their usage. The start and select buttons take some getting used to, because they're placed to the left of the left analogue trigger. It works well once you can undo all of the training years of Sega and Nintendo have drilled into you.

The analogue triggers, once you get used to their placement, are quite nice. They feel like a close copy from Sega's Nights pad, which was probably the best they could have copied.

Overall, this is a surprisingly good gamepad, and has become one of my favourites. If you're not going to be playing any analogue-stick games and just want a d-pad, you would be better off with the USB Sega Saturn pad. If you do want a gamepad with an analogue stick, this is one of the best choices.

The Xbox 360 gamepad is very similar, but fixes up some issues with button placement; the black and white buttons have been moved to the shoulders, giving two sets of shoulder buttons, and which is ultimately much more ergonomical. The start and select buttons have been moved again; they are now to the right of the left analogue stick and the left of the face buttons, respectively, which makes it a bit easier to access them. The d-pad has been redesigned, but I haven't used it enough to comment on it.

If you don't have an Xbox, the 360 pad makes more sense, both because it is superior and because the wired pad uses a USB port instead of an abnormal port that requires an adaptor. The original Xbox pad costs about 35-40$ USD, and will require an adaptor that costs about 6-10$ USD at stores like Play-Asia and Lik-Sang. The wired Xbox 360 pad costs about 32-40$ USD, and should require only a free third-party Mac OS X driver to work.