The perfect Xmas gift for a retro gamer


or this:

I had my eye on the Hanaho hotrod for a while

but it never offered a USB option, which I thought was awfully backward for such an expensive gadget-- and now the X-Arcade has trumped them in the all important price war @ $149. It can also be used with all consoles as well as PCs and Macs (via USB). Much more flexible.

Interestingly, it’s cheaper to get the bundled X-Arcade PS1/2 adapter and then pick up a dirt-cheap 2-port PS2-to-USB converter (check eBay, they go for ~$10 + shipping) than it is to spring for the “native” X-Arcade USB adapter @ $50. What are they, gouging the rich Mac users?

In a move sure to keep Andrew Bub up at night, you can even get an X-Arcade signed by the world champion of Pac-Man, Billy Mitchell:

It took almost twenty years, but on July 3, 1999 for the first time ever, a perfect score of 3,333,360 was achieved on Pac-Man by Billy Mitchell at the Funspot Family Fun Center, Weirs Beach, New Hampshire. To achieve this, Billy had to eat every single dot, fruit and every possible blue ghost in all 256 levels of the game - a feat which took him over six hours to complete. Not only that but he didn’t lose a single life. It was the first ever perfect game of Pac-Man.

On completing the game, Billy announced “I never have to play that darn game again”. He had been playing for seventeen years. Billy Mitchell, whose “Perfect” Pac-Man game was reported by CNN, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal and TIME Magazine, spoke in a recent interview with about how he did it:

“I understand the behavior of the ghosts and am able to manipulate the ghosts into any corner of the board I choose. This allows me to clear the screen with no patterns. This was a more difficult method for the initial 18 screens. I chose to do it this way because I wanted to demonstrate the depths of my abilities. I wanted to raise the bar higher - to a level that no one else could match.”

Um… yeah.

But then there’s the 2 player dual sticks challenge, which the SlikStick CO2 model wins hands down. Plus the spinner, the trackball. And the $600 price tag! DOH! I did find a SlikStick review here:

As he points out, it’s not as pricey as it seems at first glance… the parts themselves run $435 when purchased individually.

I’m a Hotrod owner myself, and pretty pleased with it. Did you see that Xarcade now offers a single-stick unit as well? If I had to get one, I thinnk that’s what I’d go for since I already have the HR for dual-stick.

Did you see that Xarcade now offers a single-stick unit as well?

Or you can buy the single-stick equivalent I made here:

Even better IMO since it’s native USB

Seems like those two-player models would be kind of awkward to use in the home. That setup works in the arcade, where the two sticks are bolted to a cabinet, but what are you supposed to to at home on a sofa or office, put your arm around the other dude and have him practically in your lap while balancing one side on your leg, the other on his?

This device will convert more gamers to homosexuality than any number of Gamecube games.

You’re starting to turn me on.

Well, judging by that eBay listing, the feeling is most definitely mutual. I like a man who knows his way around a joystick. Maybe you could rewire mine some time… say, from AC to DC?

No, this is retro-gaming. The missus was browsing QVC one night and figured that I’d want one. So I got her to buy six. I’m going to give out five to my friends at Christmas.

All I gotta do now is make five friends between now and Christmas. :D

The unit is pretty nostalgic and is true plug 'n play. Plug it in and play.

I wish it had Pac-Man and some of the other oldies on it.

Yeah, there’s a similar one for NES games:

Available lots of places, that’s the 1st link I have off the top of my head. Ignore the arcade screenshots-- it’s NES.

Unlike the Atari one, which I believe is licensed, this one is completely bootleg of course. You won’t find the word “Nintendo” on it, or in any of the games-- it’s been surgically removed. Lots more games though! And it includes two controllers + lightgun.

I have one, and it works as advertised.


Got the X-Gamer today, only to find that my motherboard doesn’t have a functioning PS2 keyboard port. Doh! I tried a folding PS2 keyboard I keep around for emergencies, and the X-Gamer, and neither would work.

I’ve long, long since switched to USB-only for all my peripherals, so I’m not sure what happened to it. Unlike those specious, generic “don’t plug anything into your computer while it’s running” warnings-- for PS2 keyboards, it’s actually true. You can fry the port by plugging stuff in while the computer is running. Usually you can treat it as plug and play even though it technically isn’t, but I have seen PS2 ports get zapped once in a blue moon when doing this.

My original plan was to use the playstation 2 converter for the X-Arcade with the playstation 2 to USB adapter. So, RS232->Playstation2->USB. This works-- sort of. I can’t get both sticks to register with the dual converter I have. Player 1 registers by itself, player 2 registers by itself, but not both at once. It’s very odd.

It is a little annoying that the native interface on the stick is RS-232 SERIAL. You’d think they could start with something a little less 1982, so you don’t have several pounds of adapter cables before you even plug anything in.

My new strategy is to get a PS2 keyboard and PS2 mouse to USB adapter for under $20 (including shipping). Still much cheaper than the $50 X-Arcade USB adapter.

Wait – scratch that, reverse it. I am able to get the unholy marriage of RS232->Playstation 2->USB to work.

I think the underlying issue is that the X-Arcade isn’t exactly an ideal plug and play client. I rebooted with everything connected and now P1 and P2 work together. Shrug.

Frying ports can be done in many ways. From the Linux kernel documentation:

Q: Is it possible to connect my old Atari/Commodore/Amiga/console joystick or pad that uses a 9-pin D-type cannon connector to the serial port of my PC?
A: Yes, it is possible, but it’ll burn your serial port or the pad. It won’t work, of course.

Take it easy with the retro gaming!


You’re talking about your PS2 keyboard port, and I’m confused… the Hotrod uses the PS2 but my understanding was that Xgamer was a solely USB item.

So, you’re saying that this is NOT a USB stick but rather for PC connection it uses the keyboard port? I’m confuxed.

Oh yeah, and that home-brew stick on ebay was pretty nice. Did you make that one from scratch yourself? I wouldn’t mind seeing the plans for it, because I’ve no concept of how you wire buttons onto a USB control card.

No, the X-Gamer is native RS-232 Serial… I’m not sure what the pinout is, but it’s probably not “real” serial, that’s just the generic connector type they chose. Anyway, it comes with ONE adapter of your choice:

Serial -> PS2 keyboard
Serial -> Playstation 2
Serial -> Xbox
Serial -> GameCube
Serial -> USB

What I was attempting to do is

Serial -> Playstation 2 -> Playstation2-to-USB converter

Unfortunately there is a little bit of control lag in this configuration, even though I got it to work. I’m hoping that

Serial -> PS2 keyboard -> PS2 keyboard-to-USB converter

Will work better.

My fallback position was to use the PS2 keyboard port on my PC, but that’s no longer an option since it appears to be broken…

Addendum: I believe PS2 keyboard is the “native” output from the X-Arcade. There isn’t a converter for PS2 keyboard output-- just a small cable with ps2 on one end, and the RS-232 female on the other.

All the other converters are really converters-- there’s some extra circuitry in there which changes the PS2 keyboard output to USB, GC, XBX, PS2, etcetera.

Not sure why they chose the RS-232 output form factor… maybe due to the circuit boards they used to build it out originally. A lot of hobbyist stuff uses the RS-232 type connectors.