Official Dreamcast Arcade Stick

Continuing with the fighting game theme of late I thought I would take a look at one of the best accessories for the Dreamcast, the Official Sega Arcade Stick.

Unfortunately for fighting game fans, the Dreamcast controller which came packaged with the system was built behind the concept of simplicity. Sega felt that the Saturn Night's controller (which was a prototype for the DC) was too cumbersome and had far too many buttons so decided to streamline the peripheral. Yet, in doing so Sega also alienated a lot of the hardcore fans who had jumped on board due to the system's awesome beat-em ups, and in particular Capcom’s Street Fighter titles which requires easy access to six face buttons. 

To appease fans Sega released a quality arcade stick for the Dreamcast just after launch. What fans did not know was although the unit came boxed in official Dreamcast packaging was that Sega did not actually manufacture the stick; instead they choose an arcade stick by Agetec, the American division of Japanese peripheral company Ascii, to be the official arcade stick of the Dreamcast. So, how does the unit hold up? 

Boxed Japanese unit

Well, the first thing you will notice is the weight; this is one heavily built unit and feels absolute quality. The stick itself features six action buttons in a traditional arcade layout, a start button, one expansion slot which can be used with a VMU and a fully micro-switched Japanese-style arcade stick that clicks just like the real thing. This is all weighed down with a heavy duty metal base for stability. Trust me, this unit will not move. In fact, if it is not used for a while the plastic grips on the bottom which stop the unit from slipping during playtime are so strong that they tend to stick to the shelf which it lives on. The main body of the unit is also made of a very hard and thick plastic to improve its durability and is a much better quality than most commercial units I have ever tried. 

The stick is affectionately known as the Green Goblin

On a side note, there are no analog features so not all games are compatible with the arcade stick but I am sure the ones that aren’t are probably best played with the joypad anyway. You can also check the packaging on the back of a game to confirm whether it supports the arcade stick.

The base of the unit is solid and firm and ensures there are no slips

In fact, the only thing that keeps the Agetec joystick from highest praise is that the buttons aren’t micro-switched like the stick. This isn’t a huge problem as the buttons are still very responsive and feel great but for those used to expensive modern sticks like the Hori Fighting edge, they will no doubt notice the difference. However, when you consider how much cheaper the Dreamcast stick was sold at (¥4,999 in Japan and £34.99 in the UK) then even compared to modern consoles I’d say that is hard to find quality that rivals this joystick. If you are a big fan of fighting or shooting titles then you probably already have this but if you still are missing it from your collection you should track down one soon as its price is constantly rising. 

There are a couple of differences between the sticks in each region. Japanese and American sticks are a darker logo with the Dreamcast swirl at the side while the European Arcade Sticks have a larger swirl printed above the text in light grey. Ascii also released a licensed arcade stick for the Dreamcast - the Ascii Stick FT – which ismore compact and comes with a built-in rumble feature. I actually prefer it over the official Dreamcast stick for fighting games due to it being more curved with a palm rest space, although its build quality is slightly inferior to the 'Green Goblin'. Hopefully, I can get round to reviewing it in the near future.

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