Through a series of articles, I detail the history of the video game industry in regards to specific companies, consoles, and pieces of hardware.
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Sega Genesis 3-button Joystick
Sega released two arcade sticks for the Sega Genesis. The 3-button "Arcade Power" arcade stick (model MK-1655), which coincided with the launch of the Genesis console in 1989, and the 6-button arcade stick (model MK-1627) which was released alongside the 6-button arcade pad in 1993.
This review is for the 3-button arcade stick, model MK-1655. Also available is a review of the 6-button arcade stick, model MK-1627.
The Sega 3-button arcade stick for the Sega Genesis is fairly large, and is built very solidly. The bottom of the stick is a black painted steel that adds weight, and there is a slightly indented relief on the left side of the joystick which serves as a place to rest your hand while playing games. This relief isn't common on other arcade sticks, which is a shame, as it does a good job of helping to hold the arcade stick down so it doesn't move while manipulating the joystick during play.
The joystick itself is fairly responsive, although not as responsive as the 6-button Genesis arcade stick. Mine sometimes has trouble returning fully to center after changing directions, but does not get stuck in any direction - if that makes sense. It may just be the joystick I have, but the play on the joystick could be a bit tighter.
Like all but the best modern home joysticks, the 3-button arcade stick uses membranes rather than micro switches for its arcade stick and action buttons, so you won't get that "clicky" arcade feel. Nevertheless, both the stick and the action buttons work well sans the above minor complaint about stick centering.
The 3-button arcade stick, as its name implies, has 3 action buttons - A, B, and C. Keep in mind this joystick was released early in the life of the Genesis, before the 6-button Genesis controller became the standard. The 3-button arcade stick fits the aesthetic theme of the original model 1 Genesis very well - mostly black with small touches of white and red accents here and there. The original Sega Genesis 3-button controller also featured these red accents, which were removed from the 3-button controller that was packed in with the model 2 Genesis.
Above each action button is a "Megafire" toggle switch that can be turned on or off for each action button. When Megafire is on, the LED above the corresponding action button illuminates. The "Megafire Speed" slider at the top of the joystick is then used to select the rate of automatic fire for when the action button is held. There is only one speed slider, which works for all buttons, so fire rates on each button cannot be adjusted independently like on the NES Advantage or Super Advantage sticks.
When action buttons are not in Megafire mode, the LED lights illuminate only when the button is pressed. This really serves no purpose, but does have a "cool factor," especially since the LEDs were removed on the 6-button arcade stick for the Genesis.
Aside from the Megafire function, the 3-button arcade stick for the Sega Genesis is a no-frills, solidly built joystick. The included LED lights and the touches of red make it look like more care was taken in its creation when compared to the updated 6-button version; though because this older iteration of the Genesis arcade stick only has 3 action buttons, gameplay with it is somewhat limited.
For games like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat, you will really miss the extra 3 buttons that the 6-button arcade stick has. The 3-button arcade stick is a cool collector's item, and I'm glad I was able to find one so cheap (in the original box with original instructions for $12), but honestly I'll probably never use it for actual long-term gameplay since I also own the 6-button version.
Still, the joystick is cheap to acquire today, so any Genesis owner should have one in their collection. There's really no excuse not to.
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