X-Arcade Tankstick

Makaveli - 2007-07-03 19:05:32 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: Makaveli   
Reviewed on: July 15, 2007
X-Arcade
X-Arcade
Price: $199.95 USD

Introduction:

Remember going to the arcade and spending all the quarters you could find in your house? Asteroids, Centipede, Pong, Defender, Space Invaders and Super Breakout are just a few of the most memorable arcade games that most of us have spent countless hours playing. Wouldn’t it be nice to relive those memories but save all those quarters? Now you can with X-Arcade’s Tankstick. The Tankstick has been dubbed “The Ultimate Arcade Gaming Experience”. Let’s see if this product brings the arcade into the comfort of your own home.

X-Arcade has been around for a few years creating innovative arcade gaming gear. The company is world renowned for having indestructible products that are built to last. X-Arcade’s products have been featured on hit TV shows such as “Alias” and “Entourage”.

Closer Look:

The box that the X-Arcade Tankstick was shipped in proudly displays the logo across it. This box was much heavier and larger than I anticipated. I was glad to see how well the unit was prepared for rough shipping.

The Tankstick is made for two players and the size of the unit is absolutely perfect for two people. Everything feels very sturdy and would be very hard to break - which is certainly a good thing. The bottom of the unit has multiple rubber feet to secure the Tankstick to the surface the user is playing on.


Each player is given eight customizable buttons on the top of the Tankstick. They each have two white buttons on the side of the unit, as well as a player one and player two button on top. There is one trackball that can be used for golf and bowling games among others. To insure accuracy with the trackball, users can hold the horizontal disabler button on the back of the Tankstick.

The back of the Tankstick is where you'll find the programming button, horizontal disabler button, and cables to hook up the unit to your computer.


Included with the Tankstick is an instruction manual, two discs filled with arcade classics, and cables to install the Tankstick properly.

Installation:

The Tankstick is extremely easy to set up. Start by turning off your computer and unplugging your current mouse and keyboard. I set up the Tankstick in my PS/2 port, but you can set it up via USB as well. You’ll notice the keyboard cable is very short on the backside of the Tankstick. This is because you’ll need to plug in a PS/2 keyboard to that cable and then use the supplied cable to go from the Tankstick to your computer. Below you can see where my PS/2 keyboard plugged in and what it looks like when everything is installed. 

 

 

 

 

You’ll notice a red LED on the upper right hand side. This means that the connection is secure between the Tankstick and the computer.

 

Don’t forget to install the included games! Just pop the discs into your optical drive and following the on-screen instructions.

 

Configuration:

This is where it gets a bit tricky. Basically, you’re going to have to navigate with your PS/2 keyboard that is plugged into the Tankstick and change the controls to the Tankstick. The computer is made to believe the Tankstick is a keyboard, so you don’t have to configure anything for a joystick or mouse. The program used to configure the controls for each game can be found in the start menu. It's a simple program to use, but you have to remember you are navigating with the PS/2 keyboard so it may take some time to get the hang of. Below you can see the generic settings I had for Pong and Asteroids.

 

I found it was easiest to install the games before installing the Tankstick, only because I'm not great at navigating with a keyboard.

 

Specifications:

Features:

Games Included:

Testing:

What better way to test an arcade gaming unit than to play all the classic arcade games for hours on end? I vote that there is no other way to test. I called over some of my friends who I used to play in the arcade at the mall with me to get some more opinions of the Tankstick. We played all the included games and an old golf game that one of my buddies had at his house to test the trackball on the unit.

The first thing I wanted to test was what my friends thought of setting up the profiles for each game. All of them, including myself, agreed that it was a hassle to set up profiles for each and every game. But what made it worse was that we had to do it all while using just a PS/2 keyboard. It got to the point where we just decided to make a standard layout of the controls for each game so that no one had to go back and modify the profile.

Once we started playing, all of us got very immersed in the games and the unit because we have been deprived of an arcade for many years now. Everyone was smiling from ear to ear because of the memories that came back and it was an awesome experience to relive those moments and save all the quarters. The unit was very easy to play on for an extended period of time and it felt so real that I forgot we were in my basement playing on a computer. Below is a picture of one of the rounds of Super Breakout I had.

The trackball worked very well when we played the golf game with it. The horizontal disabler button worked great, because it insured the golf ball would go vertically on the screen instead of having an inaccurate shot that would veer to the sides.

We decided to try playing the pinball game included with Windows so we set the buttons on the side of the Tankstick to control the flippers. Let me tell you that there is no better way to play pinball in your house than with the Tankstick.

Testing:

Now that we've tested the unit with the included games, let's try other games and see if the Tankstick is as beneficial with them. I'm going to be testing the Tankstick in Microsoft Flight Simulator X (flight simulator), Counter-Strike: Source (first person shooter), and World of Warcraft (RPG/MMO). I will record what I thought about using the Tankstick with each of those games. With high performance games you should have the Tankstick plugged into the USB ports instead of PS/2.

Test System:

I felt it was fairly easy to configure the settings for each game. The only problem is that Windows sees the Tankstick as a keyboard - not a joystick. Thus, you can't configure the Tankstick as a joystick no matter how much you may want to. This affected my gaming while I played Microsoft Simulator X, because the joystick on the Tankstick was not as free-moving as a real joystick. Using the Tankstick in flight simulators is much worse than using a real joystick.

I almost don't want to comment on the Tankstick in first person shooter games such as Counter-Strike: Source because of how much of a joke it is. I couldn't believe how much harder it was to play, and the joystick on the Tankstick will never be as fast as a mouse. My precision was absolutely terrible while I played using the unit.

In World of Warcraft, I was actually very surprised at how nice it was to have the buttons on the Tankstick. The joystick wasn't too bad in WoW, and I liked having the buttons set to my attacks. The only problem was that I kept forgetting which key did what. Overall, I felt the Tankstick could be used to play World of Warcraft satisfactorily because it didn't affect my performance.


Screenshots:

Here are some screenshots of my friends and I playing the games included with the Tankstick. See if you can pick out some of these classics.   

 

 

 

For the people who are in question about which games are featured in each screenshot, I'll list them by row from top to bottom. Asteroids Deluxe, SmashTV, Defender, Gauntlet, Warlords, Battlezone, Rampage, Crystal Castles, Pong, Joust, Gravitar, Centipede, Millipede, Asteroids, Robotron, Missile Command, Super Breakout, and Tempest.

Conclusion:

The X-Arcade Tankstick was an amazing experience because it really took my buddies and I back to the arcade in the mall, and returned all those memories of the great games. The unit is exactly like the real deal, but it's portable and inexpensive compared to the big machines. I would recommend this product to anyone who has ever stepped foot in an arcade and played some of the classic arcade games. The included software has many of the best games, so there is no need to go out and search for the almost non-existant game discs. My father even came downstairs to see what all the commotion was all about and played a few of his favorite games. That was the first time in a long time that I've seen him smiling and having a ton of fun. The only negative thing that I have to say is the configuration was a little bit difficult since it had to be done via PS/2 keyboard only. If you're looking for some classic arcade memories you can now have them in the comfort of your home - don't pass up X-Arcade's Tankstick. On top of all that, the Tankstick is backed with a lifetime warranty making it an even better investment.

Pros:

Cons: