|★ HARDWARE ★ JOYSTICKS ★ PRO ACE ★|
|Joystick - Pro Ace|Amstrad Computer User)||Hardware Joysticks|
The next stick under scrutiny was the Pro Ace Competition Joystick. This beast clearly shows its ancestry from the arcade games of yore (Yore is a small island, just off Japan, which specialises in making objects over five years old). The word that best describes this stick is solid, and the word that best describes your hand after a good Pro Acean thrash is numb. One hand has to be used to hold the base down on a solid surface. It can be very tiring handheld as the forces involved in moving the shaft are just too great. If you're worried about muscular atrophy as you spend your life hunched over a computer, then worry no more. Your legs might wither away, but you'll have wrists like Rambo's shoulders. If you're not into pumping nylon then this is not for you; there's just a bit too mucho macho muscle needed for precision, on-the-pixel sprite bopping.
In the tussle with the mad aliens in Starion, for example, time after time I overshot or failed to move because I'd applied too much or too little pressure. That can be serious when you're battling to save the Galaxy (again).
The lack of a top fire button is also a bit miffing (a bit miffing - traditional cry upon unpacking a kit of parts for a radio and so on. "There's a bit miffing!"). Interestingly, there is an extra switch below the shaft. This is connected across the fire button - if the centre of the shaft was drilled out then a short length of stick would do the job. But it's easier to buy a better stick.
Also missing from this stick is any form of feedback. There is no way of telling when you've moved the shaft far enough to engage the contacts. As there is quite a lot of free movement, or throw, on the shaft (it feels a little like a Morris 1100 gearbox) this is quite a problem. The overall effect is a bit like stirring treacle, not the most enervating response (again, like a Morris 1100).
On the plus side, the construction oozes solidness and durability. But games playing was not a pleasure with this stick. Spindizzy was a bit of a battle, the effort required sadly slowed the old reponse time down to a three-pint level. Starion was similarly painful - pitting a Morris 1100 against the latest in interstellar nastiness takes the edge off things. Way of the Exploding Fist became Path of the Limp Wrist.
This stick can take a lot of punishment and will outlast many of its feebler competitors. But do you really want to stir treacle for that long?