Some of my fondest memories are of hanging around in arcades with my friends playing some of the classics or waiting on my parents as they shopped the grocery store while I passed the time in front of an arcade machine that was placed near the registers. Arcades aren’t as abundant as they used to be but there’s one company that’s looking to bring that experience back home. We’ve reviewed their joystick setup before and this time they are releasing a trackball for you Centipede, Golden Tee, or Marble Madness fans.
X-Arcade has started to ship their Trackball Mouse after some delays. The unit’s pretty solid, built from solid wood, feels tough, and weighs in at 15 LBS. The trackball in the middle is sized exactly like I remember it from my days of Centipede. Rolling around with the palm, it’s got the arcade feel that’s prominent in X-Arcade products. You’ll hear that familiar sound of the ball rolling over the sensors as well.
Six buttons situated in groups of three sit on either side of the trackball. They are really just three buttons repeated on either side and this allows both lefties and righties to use the unit. They could’ve made each button independent but who would really use all six buttons and the trackball at the same time? On either side of the unit are two more buttons. For pinball games, you could use them as flipper buttons. Quality on the buttons are exactly like the arcade. Given that X-Arcade uses arcade quality parts, this should be no surprise. They have strong springs and a great response and feel.
The Trackball Mouse’s setup is as simplistic as plugging it into the PS/2 or USB port. No drivers are needed; just plug in the unit and you’re good. The unit mimics a three button mouse setup so any game that can use the mouse will be able to use the Trackball Mouse. You could even use this as your main mouse setup if you so desire.
So with the unit plugged in, I fired up a few classics that were made with the Trackball Mouse in mind. First off was Golden Tee. This golf game's pretty popular in sports bars and all your swings are accomplished by rolling the trackball back and spinning it forward. Any spin that's off center will translate to a hook or a slicing shot. Sure enough, the X-Arcade Trackball Mouse would translate my bad spins into bad shots. Playing PBA Bowling, the game was great fun and was a lot better experience using a trackball over a mouse. There are a few non-trackball games that also benefit from the device. For example, playing Discs of Tron with the trackball in place of the dial that was used in the arcade machine provided me with better aiming although it is a little awkward with such a large unit in the X-Arcade Trackball and using another device to move Tron around. The X-Arcade Trackball Mouse works well in a wide variety of games.
Included with the unit are 12 Atari classics that will take advantage of the Trackball Mouse in case you don't have any MAME roms or other programs. Just playing Centipede, Crystal Castles, Missile Command, and Millipede brought back a ton of memories. With those games you have to use the trackball to get the full effect. Not all the games included are trackball based as Pong, Super Breakout, and Tempest were dial games. (Hey, X-Arcade, when’s the dial controller coming out?) If you have MAME and some ROMs, you'll have plenty of games to use the peripheral with. Get the authentic Golden Tee experience right at home without having to go to your local sports bar. You can also use the unit on Tiger Woods PGA Tour as a new way to swing the club. The trackball adds another layer of fun in certain games.
Yes, the Trackball Mouse does have limited function but for arcade enthusiasts, it’s a great solid unit to get to add to your collection. With the lifetime warranty, you’ll know the unit will last and be covered if any problems should arise. It’s nice of X-Gaming to include a layout for both left handed and right handed folks so that anyone can use it comfortably. At $99.95, it’s not cheap but again it will be well covered and features solid construction and arcade quality parts so you know it is built to take a beating. If anything should ever go wrong with the unit, X-Arcade will either fix it, send you replacement parts, or completely replace the unit without charging you shipping. If you're looking for a solid trackball setup to compliment your home arcade setup, the Trackball Mouse should be on your short list of trackballs to pick up.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.