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Emulate in style with Retro Thing’s limited-edition USB joystick

That gleaming lunar landscape is my trusty MacBook workhorse, but also my primary Game Center. So of course I splurged (US$35) on Retro Thing’s Clear Classic USB joystick, available now in both blue and red (but the cool kids are all about blue). The controller’s chassis, sturdy, crystal-clear plastic in the original 2600 joystick’s likeness, is illuminated by a single LED.

I am anti-emulation—I play all my Atari cartridges on a girthy CRT television, thanks—but the joystick integrates with Stella software seamlessly, no re-mapping required. And as emulation goes, this as good as it gets. The stick itself has that apt resistance that feels authentically Atari, yet its diagonal movement is an improvement on the classic joystick’s, making Mountain King a much happier experience. Still, this ain’t no d-pad: homebrew twitch-titles like Lead are best with the keyboard’s arrow keys.

Retro Thing—yeah, the blog! I know, right?—has manufactured just 1000 of these babies for the holiday season. I ordered mine through Amazon (painless; free shipping), and it arrived in only a couple of days. Legacy have done a great job with the joystick’s design: it feels sure and true, and it won’t crumple under aggressive play. Really nice.

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