Retrogaming is the term used to describe the old school arcade world of the ‘80s. It encompasses the giant wood machines, the rock-solid bat-handle controls and the big buttons that would break you before you broke them. Whether you played Pac-Man, Q*Bert, Galaga, Robotron, Karate Champ, Track & Field or any of the thousands of joystick-slamming, button-pounding, quarter-munching games between 1983 and 1993, you know what real controls and real buttons are.

You also know that modern gamepads suck rhinoceros scrote. You know that modern PC joysticks are too unwieldy for anything beyond flight simulators and way too phallic in their design. You know that arcade controllers got it right the first time and should have just stayed put.

The Devastator 2 brings back the durability and style of the retro machines.

At 32 inches wide, 13 inches deep and easily over 12 pounds, the Devastator 2 is an intimidating control panel. It has 12 fire buttons, two side buttons for pinball control, two teardrop-handle 8-way joysticks (left joystick has a button on top), a spinner and a trackball built into a beautiful black heat treated wood housing.

With nearly 1300 arcade games at my disposal (for testing purposes only, of course), I put the Devastator 2 to its limits over the last thirty days.

The controller took extensive abuse from Street Fighter 2 battles, button smashers like Numan Athletics and the joystick stressing Mercs and Commando. The Devastator 2 isn’t phased by any of the stress that dozens of people have put it through. It likely will never be phased by any stress for the foreseeable future. The Devastator 2 is the last controller you will ever need.

The Devastator 2 is manufactured by Treyonics Corp. of Cleveland, OH. Basically, it’s a small operation run by engineer and retro game fanatic, Jim Krych. Jim knows his craft and does a hell of a better job at creating an ideal control panel than his competitors, the HotRod by HannaHo Games and the X-Arcade by X-Gaming.

Let’s discuss the competitors for a moment. While I have not tried the HotRod, I have owned the X-Arcade. There’s no discernible difference besides wood color (purple versus black). There’s possibly no discernible difference in the actual manufacturer either since HannaHo is credited for their assistance in the X-Gaming manual. Neither unit has a spinner or a trackball. Both units are a narrow and uncomfortable 24 inches wide. Great for unbelievably annoying incidental contract of the legs and hands of your opponent. Neither company will produce a right-handed control/left-handed fire unit on request at any price. Neither company will do any custom work for any price.

The Devastator 2 is designed for retrogaming using MAME button functions. The trackball can substitute as a second mouse if your unit is always in front of your monitor.

It is important to keep in mind that the Devastator 2 and all other retro-arcade controllers are essentially enhanced keyboards. Your standard computer keyboard is severely limited in durability and functionality. If you try to hit combinations of keys that do not involve “shift”, “Alt” or “ctrl”, your keyboard will not properly execute your commands in an error known as “ghosting.” The Devastator 2 has a special chip that allows infinite button combinations. Button combinations are essential for special moves in just about every game ever made and indispensable for two player controls.

In short, the Devastator 2 uses the same channels as your keyboard but it is NOT a keyboard.

The controller is fully programmable for modern games like Microsoft Pinball, Madden 2003, Tony Hawk Pro Skater and any game that allows a keyboard as a controller. Since 99% of games allow software programming of the keys, you will likely never have to program the buttons. If you run into a situation where programming is necessary, it’s a very simple task. Just know how it’s set up and know how to set it back before fiddling with the hardware.

The Devastator 2 comes in right-handed and left-handed versions. You can choose right-handed control at no extra charge. The traditional design of left-handed control in Western civilization can be blamed squarely on the Japanese and the fact that they were first in the development of coin-operated video arcade games. The West drives on the right side of the road, three-quarters of the population is right-handed yet it tolerates left-handed directional arcade controls to this day. All I can conclude is that we were young and our elders weren’t paying attention to this sinister and subtle left-handed propaganda.

Most people don’t care. However, if you do care, you can request right-handed controls.

The Devastator 2 is big and heavy. You will need to know how you are going to park it before buying it. By extension, the Devastator 2 is nearly indestructible, making it the ultimate party piece. With a MAME front-end, anybody will be able to sit down and safely play arcade games. Arcade games have the benefit of appeal across gender and age lines so it would be difficult to find someone that wouldn’t want to play a game or two, especially since no quarters are required.

It should be noted that the Devastator 2 website needs a lot of work and the pictures are piss poor. Jim provided sharp digital photos at my request. He is in the process of making it look nicer. The quality of the website has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the unit and should not be associated in any way.

You will pay more for the Devastator 2 at $395 but you will get significantly more than the other two companies in a very small, burgeoning market. At 32 inches wide, you won’t be crowding your opponent and accidentally hitting his/her controls. The trackball can work alongside or even replace your mouse and the spinner is first-rate. To open your world to the entire past, present and future of video games, there is no better product.

Web: http://www.tomheroes.com/Devastator/joystick.htm

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