Gamepad Brings New Life to Emulated Games

I use a fairly powerful laptop at home. It’s not exactly a gaming laptop but it has a pretty powerful gaming card (ATI X1600) and uses dual core (Duo T2300E) processor. In short its a great machine to play classic Sega/Nintendo games of yesteryears’ through emulators. Increasingly I have been concerned about the life of my laptop keyboard which I have found, unlike the desktop keyboards, could be quite easily jammed (especially if your 10 year old cousin is banging on Enter key yelling ‘MAAARREYO’).

Somehow I had this intuition that a gamepad-like input device can solve this problem. After a couple of minutes of googling I found that my guess was correct. I could find that it is easily available in cities like Mumbai/Bangalore and it is quite cheap too. But I was not sure if I can get in in Mangalore so I searched the usual places and a few unusual places like gadget.in. I had the following criteria for my gamepad (or joypad or game controller as it is called in some places):

  • Must have the basic set of buttons for playing Nintendo and Sega games
  • Must have a joystick. This is the basic advantage of gamepads over keyboard+mouse
  • Must be cheap so that I can probably buy more if I need to host a mini game party Plus, it must have decent looks

The prices range from Rs. 450 (Chinese make incl. Shipping) to Rs. 1100 (Logitech Dual action) online. I also read accounts of people who went for Logitech and lost their calibration in a few months and accounts of people who have been using cheap gamepad for the last 3 years.

Finally, I could get a decent gamepad with vibrations and dual joysticks from Mangalore (Saibeen Complex, Lalbagh) itself for Rs. 350. It is a Chinese model called PU850 and is autodetected by XP when plugged into the USB port (though it comes with a mini CD with drivers). It has all the features I wanted. As regards to looks, decide for yourself ;)

My Gamepad closeup

My Gamepad with Pandora

Don’t they go well with each other :D? I have played only a few games with it so this is a quick review but here is what I found:

  • It is small and light for my hands alleast. It is fully powered by the usb (no batteries)
  • Almost all emulators detected it out of the box
  • Sega Genesis games work well with the joystick in Analog mode. I use the 4 shoulder buttons and right joystick in most cases.
  • Nintendo Gameboy games work well with the left D-pad or HAT switches. It seems to be over-reacting to the joystick. Could be an emulator problem though. I found it more easier to hold it tilted forward when playing these games.

All in all, it has been a good value for money. I can now literally sit back and play my game collection with much better controls and stop worrying about my Pandora.

Hi! Welcome to ArunRocks, an odd collection of writeups on programming, travel, gadgets and practically anything under the sun. This state of affairs could be blamed on the ecelectic interests of your host, Arun Ravindran. He loves programming in several languages especially Python. He is currently a developer member of the Django Software Foundation. Read more...

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