Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tech: Mad Catz Arcade GameStick (and some XBLA leftovers)

I've gotten a lot of trade-in credit at Gamestop recently, so I've been combing the bargain bins of some of their local stores in search of deals. On one trip, I saw a Mad Catz Arcade GameStick for $10 (that's $30 off of the MSRP), so I snatched it up. Here's a video of someone flailing around on it:

For the $10 clearance price, I suppose this is a serviceable stick. The floppy main joystick definitely brings back the old Atari feel, and the rotating trackwheel is fun, albeit mushy and imprecise. Nothing really matches the tight controls you get from a conventional directional pad, though. After extended play, I found that even the Xbox 360's execrable implementation of the d-pad is better than flopping around on an old Atari-style stick.

As I suspected, then, the best part of this package were the three pack-in games included in the box - Frogger, Time Pilot, and Astropop. Frogger suffers from some inexplicable bouts of slowdown, but otherwise, these are three decent XBLA titles that would have costed $20 if purchased separately. My personal favorite is Astropop, another colorful action-puzzler from the folks at PopCap. You can get satisfying screen-clearing combos aplenty:


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