samedi 7 décembre 2013

Emulation and pads

Emulation and pads

This entry is available in french


This article is not completly dedicated to videopac (aka odyssey 2), but i would like to share my experience and, if possible, receive some information.
If you have a preffered pad model please let me know and please explain how you use it.

The problem

For me pads and joysticks have 2 main uses:
- videopac (odyssey 2) emulation
- megadrive (genesis) emulation

I only emulate under linux (currently ubuntu precise pangolin).

When i started to play different games on emulators with my children, the lack of joystick rapidely became a real problem. At least, it was really lowering gaming pleasure.
It was impossible to plug sega gamepads (not supported).
It was impossible to plug videopac joysticks, they do not even have a plug.

I quickly gave up the idea of buying joysticks. I only found very complex sticks not suitable to a very simple odyssey 2 gameplay.

Moreover the megadrive pads have 6 buttons (2 rows of three).
sega genesis/megadrive pad
I was seeking to have a product both suitable for megadrive and for videopac emulation.

First try

I started by buying two saitek p220 pads.
Saitek p220 pad

In the beginning i was quite happy. They were not too expensive. Thanks to the USB plug they worked at once. The 6 buttons were working. The useless throttle gadget in the middle was not annoying me.
But after a while, I realized the product was not so good:
- The D-pad was not reactive enough to play platform games
- The 6 buttons were not sensitive enough
- The diagonals were difficult to find at once

In some games, the diagonal problem is critical. It is impossible to play to DamBuster (videopac 29) without perfectly working diagonal directions. With other games it is less annoying, it is just that after half an hour your hand is completely tetanized.

Second try

So i decided to spend a little more money to have a really good pad. A quick search learned to me that top quality pads like Mad catz were realy too expensive. I could not find a saturn pad which is supposed to work on PC.
I finnaly found this:
pad hori fighting commander pro
This pad is HORI fighting commander PRO. I don't know why, but mines, yes i bought two, do not have the trendy color on buttons. But we spend a so little time to look at buttons that it is not bothering me.
Megadrive emulation worked at once. The emulator i use asks to define buttons and it's done, you can play.

The 6 buttons are quite sensitive.
The D-Pad is accurate and smooth, even if it does not behave exactly like sega one.
This feeling is lasting for now more than one year.

But there is a pitfall: these pads are for Sony PS3. With a PC, the D-pad is seen as a POV stick. So it was not working with my videopac emulator. No use to blame linux, i had the same behavior with another well known OS.

The advices i could find in forums were:
- install a driver for PS3 pads, I did not manage
- install a software (commercial OS) enabling to map pads to keyboard (xpadder, joy2key, ppjoyjoy, ...)

With linux, there is a standard solution:
Linux includes command-line tools  to handle and configure joysticks and pads: jstest jscal jscal-store jscal-restore
and a graphical front end: jstest-gtk which enable to remap axes.


Well, one small problem remains: I have to configure one of the two pads each time i use videopac emulator though it should be saved once for all.
Is it a bug ? I think so. Any information on the subject is welcome.
If you have a linux distro that completely saves two pad config please let me know. Do some of you have the same problem ?

Unexpected lucky break!

Sometime later, at an attic sale, i found a  pad microsoft sidewinder at a such low price that i could not left it behind me. I bought it and it works very well with linux.
Furthermore, though it has been previously used it is working nicely and it has 6 buttons.

microsoft sidewinder

Conclusion Please share your knowledge !

What are your preffered pads ?.
  • What is its brandname ?
  • How do you use it ?
Share your knowledge about jstest
  • Is it completely stable is your distro ?
  • Can it save the second pad configuration ?
Where can i find saturn pads ?


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