Xgaming is a company known for its arcade hardware that closely simulates the feel of a real arcade machine, so when we heard that the company was releasing its famed X-Arcade stick in a solo variant that could not only be used by gamers looking to relive their arcade memories of the past, but also hardcore fighting game players looking for a solid fight stick, we knew we had to get our hands on one. Now, we have had time to play with it, but does it stack up to the best arcade sticks on the market?
We purchased an X-Arcade Solo joystick with our own money in order to provide you with the most unbiased review and insight into the product.
Best of all, we are going to give an Xgaming X-Arcade Solo Joystick away to one lucky reader. It will also include all of the adapters you will need to play it on a wide variety of game consoles, as well as the USB cord needed to play it on PC!
Introducing the X-Arcade Solo joystick
The X-Arcade Solo, like the Dual that came before, is a device aimed at arcade enthusiasts who are looking to replicate the experience with the most authentic hardware possible. The difference between the Solo and the Dual is that it is designed to only be played by one player, where the Dual had two sets of everything. This makes the Solo smaller and lighter, and is a perfect design for someone who spends most of their time playing video games alone. It also opens the stick up to people who take their fighting games seriously, as it can be carried around to tournaments, where the previous model was a little too bulky.
Going with the Solo stick also provides a price reduction, as it comes in with a $99 price tag, while the Dual costs $129. The market for arcade sticks is rather limited, so the X-Arcade doesn’t have much competition there. If you want a stick aimed at playing old-school games, this is probably your best choice. However, the fight stick market is much more competitive with brands like Hori and Mad Catz running the show. Mad Catz has its Arcade FightStick Pro which comes with a $129 price tag, but can only be used with the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, and gamers are required to buy one or the other, where the X-Arcade can be used on both with the right adapters. The same goes for Hori, which offers a few models ranging from the Real Arcade Pro. VX SA Kai to the $199 Fighting EDGE.
For the most hardcore of fighting game fans, looking at Hori or Mad Catz offerings might be the better option, but if you want a stick that can hold its own while still providing flexibility, the X-Arcade Solo is certainly a good option, as long as the feel and features stack up. Do they?
Upon removing the X-Arcade Solo joystick from the box, I was reminded of the company’s claim of the joystick being nearly indestructible, as it feels like quite the beefy piece of hardware. It’s heavy, weighing around 5.7 pounds, but it’s not so heavy that it feels uncomfortable on your lap. Yes, it weighs more than your run-of-the-mill fight stick, but that’s clearly by design.
As with any controller, the first thing I did was madly click all of the buttons and move the joystick around, just to see how everything felt. The buttons have the same satisfying clicky feel that you get from playing an actual arcade machine, the joystick comes packed with plenty of resistance, so it always feels like you are in control. When playing classic arcade games, this is absolutely critical, as they are all about accuracy. So, just based on first impressions, the stick feels precise.
While not included in the base $99 price tag, we also opted to order one of each of the adapters that allow the stick to be used with a range of video game consoles including the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Dreamcast, GameCube, PlayStation 1 and 2, Nintendo Wii and Wii U, and original Xbox. At first glance, these are a little complicated, as some of the systems require a chain of adapters to work. However, once you get the hang of it, hooking them up is not hard, and it’s certainly better to have support for the consoles than disregarding them altogether. Also, the company is already working on adapters for the Xbox One and PS4, which should make this a device that is able to move with you to newer consoles; something other models on the market don’t offer.
All in all, my first impressions of the joystick were positive. Everything from the build quality to the buttons themselves feel like a piece of gaming hardware that was crafted with care, and that’s really all you can ask for.
As far as aesthetics go, the X-Arcade Solo joystick is a beautiful piece of hardware. It is designed to provide the same look as those retro arcade cabinets, and it definitely hits that mark as well as a standalone joystick possibly can. The colors are not overly flashy, with a body, buttons and joystick that are mostly black. Little pops of variation are added with the white player select button, and the varying shades of gray and red used in the big “X” displayed on the front of the joystick. Where many fight sticks opt for flashy images, the X-Arcade is rather subdued, which is something certain people will love, and others will not be so into.
As I said from the outset, this is a big piece of hardware — it’s 16.8 inches wide, 10 inches deep, and 4.1 inches high. The top surface is angled down towards the player, which creates a comfortable experience overall. Most fight sticks on the market are flat on top, and personally, I found that leaning it like this is a little bit more comfortable, but that is a matter of personal preference.
For most gameplay situations, the X-Arcade features plenty of buttons. The front has two rows of three and one row of two, as well as a white player select button which most games interpret as “Start.” There are also two buttons on either side, which are perfectly suited to playing virtual pinball games, but their location limits their use in general gameplay as you are required to move your hand from the main area to get access to them. There is also a button on the back of the controller, which serves as a sort of power button in most cases.
Each buttons gently slopes in, further adding to the precision by allowing you to actually feel where you are pressing. In precision games like those in the fighting genre, this is a key design element, and one I certainly appreciated during my time with the arcade stick.
The best way to sum up the design is that it seems like X-Arcade went to their local arcade, cut out the control parts and shipped it to your house. It delivers an experience so similar to that of playing on an arcade machine that you might just forget that you are sitting in your living room altogether.
Playing PC Games On X-Arcade
Every X-Arcade ordered comes with the cable needed to play games on your PC, so we will start with that. The set up process for using the joystick on PC is painless. You can hook it up with USB or PS/2, and it will automatically be recognized by most computers. X-Arcade actually has a Java applet that you can use to test the device and make sure that it is working.
I encountered a bit of confusion on my first try when games failed to recognize the joystick as a controller. Instead, it simply replaced various keystrokes on the keyboard with buttons on the Solo. Once I realized this, setting up the keys in each game was a snap, and didn’t take too much effort.
You can use the X-Arcade with any number of emulators out there to play classic games, and if you prefer a more legit route, there are plenty of games available on GOG and Steam that feature controls that are well suited to an arcade-like experience. Some highlights for me include Rouge Legacy, which is a game that feels shockingly good on the arcade stick, and Pinball FX2 and Pinball Arcade, which make great use of the buttons on the side of the controller.
Of course, there is only one joystick on the X-Arcade, so anything like a shooter that requires two will be out of the question, but that’s not what this stick is designed for anyway. The best thing I can recommend is to experiment with different games. Some are better played with a mouse and keyboard or Xbox controller, but in those classic and arcadey experiences, the X-Arcade delivers a feel like nothing else you will find on the market today.
Playing Games On Console
Playing games with the X-Arcade Solo joystick is a pretty good experience, but I think it’s far better on PC. The reason for this is twofold. First, you have to buy extra adapters and rig them together to make the device actually work with your console of preference. Second, the buttons are not uniform, so you will need to spend a bit of time pressing all of the different buttons to see which one performs which function. In many games, you can customize the controls, which helps, but since the buttons are not labeled, this still takes a little time.
In spite of the problems, once you have the controls set up, it delivers on its promises with a fantastic gaming experience that you won’t find with any controller that comes with your console. Sadly, it doesn’t offer support for the really old stuff like the NES or the Genesis, but with the wealth of re-releases out there for those games, it’s not hard to find a way to play them on the Wii, PlayStation, or one of the plenty of other consoles it supports.
In the end, the limitations of the setup is not the fault of X-Arcade, but rather something that is bound to happen when you set out to craft a piece of hardware that works with almost anything. That alone is impressive. If you think about the history of video game controllers, almost everything is built to work with one specific platform. The fact that this device is able to be used with so many is downright impressive. Couple that with the fact that the company keeps moving forward and building adapters for the new generation of consoles, and you have a serious feat in terms of video game hardware.
The general feel we spoke about earlier remains intact. Whether console or PC, the joystick feels great, the buttons have a solid clicking to them, and it’s just a fantastic piece of hardware.
Using as a Fight Stick
Competitive gamers are picky, and switching to this for a fight stick might be a tough proposition. Hori is a name synonymous with fight sticks, and many gamers will not want to switch. I am certainly not a competitive fighting game player, but I have been messing with the genre since I first started playing video games. From a pure feeling perspective, this stick feels good. It has a different style of joystick than you might find on some dedicated fight sticks.
In the end, this device can certainly hold its own among fighting game fans, but the extra weight does take away from its portability a tad. If you are a pro-level fighting game player, you might want to stick with something like a Hori, but for people who want to play fighting games with a lower degree of competitiveness while maintaining a high degree of flexibility to use it with other platforms, this is a great choice that you can carry with you through new console generations.
It’s hard not to be impressed with what Xgaming has managed to pull off with the X-Arcade Solo, and all of its other models. It has created a device that can be used on more platforms than you will find with any other video game accessory, and it has figured out a way to do it with an incredibly high level of quality, both in the performance of components and durability of the device itself. Unless you are playing fighting games at the highest level, this is a perfect stick for everything from fighters to classic arcade games.
How do I win the Xgaming X-Arcade Solo?
You may enter by submitting your name and email address. You’ll receive one entry simply by doing so.
After that, you’ll also be offered various methods to earn additional entries. They range from sharing a link to this giveaway on social networks; to commenting or visiting a specific page. The more you participate, the higher your chances of winning! You will receive 5 additional entries into the giveaway for every successful referral via your shared links.
This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, January 10. The winner will be selected at random and informed via email.
Congratulations, Dave Langley! You would have received an email from email@example.com. Please respond before January 15 to claim your prize. Enquires beyond this date will not be entertained.