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 ;)
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.