Budget Arcade Joystick for PC - MAME

It looks like it's been a couple of years since this topic was last discussed on OzB so I thought I'd check in with the professionals.

I'm looking for a budget arcade stick that could be used by a 7 and 9 year old to discover the joys of retro gaming or to tell me how crap it all is :-)

I've seen no name budget sticks on ebay in the $35 to $55 range but I must say that I'm a bit scared of their longevity and where do you find reviews of that stuff? eg below
Ebay cheapy 1
Ebay cheapy 2

Otherwise, what's the lowest/best bang for buck from the recognised brands?



  • +1
    • +1

      Mayflash are legitimately good sticks.

      • Yep they are, and can be easily upgraded with full sanwa gear.

  • If you want to start out cheap to see if the kids will get into the retro scene I would get a cheap USB controller from say EB or JB etc when on special and use it with Mame on a PC to start with. If the kids like it then get a "proper" arcade joystick…..read on for my response.

    They are both good for that they are, but are not in the same league as real arcade quality joysticks. You will not get a retro recognized brand in an arcade joystick until you get into the $150 starting price.

    Either of these will be good for a starting reasonable quality joystick for the kids. If you want to get a better quality joystick then I would DIY. I have two DIY joysticks with one from real 1980's arcade quality Japanese parts (exclude USB joystick PCB that I upgraded from the old 15 pin PC joystick interface 8yrs ago) and one I made up about 3 years ago from an EBAY case and joystick/buttons from https://www.austinamusements.com.au. I also have a arcade joystick from ebay like the $54 one, but I paid less this out of china a while ago.

    If you have the time and can spend a bit more I would go down the DIY route using proper arcade joystick and buttons as they will be microswitch based and will last you decades if they are looked after (okay looked after as it not subject to water or dust etc). They will also take a beating during game play and if they do fail the microswitch will be the think that fails in 99.9% of the time and you should be able to get spares from Jaycar or Altronics.

    • Thanks - are you referring to the ebay cheapies as starters (both are good comment) or the suggestions of the other commenters (the latter I think)?
      My wife would love me to take on yet another DIY project, regardless, is the end result of DYI a USB connector based joy stick box or is at a full emulator with CPU etc with video out port?

      • The ebay cheapies are good to start with, but you can get cheaper USB controllers on special at EB and JB for the kids to play with as they may not like the retro games. EB had a $9 controller, but its out of stock: https://www.ebgames.com.au/product/xbox-one/206278-play-wire...

        If you go down the DIY route you will end up with a USB connector at one end and the "Box" at the other end will depend on what you want. You can get the parts, apart from the case from https://www.austinamusements.com.au in Sydney. There are other places including ebay you can get the parts from. You can build a case or have a look at the following https://www.ebay.com.au/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=arcade+joy... for an existing case.

        • Thanks I'll start them off on some regular console like USB controllers.

          Hey with the DIY, do you have a guide to read through or are the kits from Austin completely self contained with full electrical and wiring instructions?

  • why not just xbox wireless controllers? they're not fighting game professionals!

    • +1

      We don't have console controllers, I just assumed that it would be more fun to play on arcade like joysticks but that's probably my bias as I've never been a console gamer and used mouse/keyboard or old school joysticks.

  • I’m a big fan of cheap when it is cheap and good, but the really cheap ones just look like junk.
    I’d be tempted to save up for the 8bitdo arcade stick, or one of the things AndyC1 is talking about above, even though they are $150+

    At least with the costly ones they will work for years and years, and work well.

  • can pick up some good sticks second hand for around the same money as new junk ones.

    • I had a quick look on Gumtree and Facebook and there were no standout bargains right now that I could see. Everything seemed over $100.

  • No sure how many buttons you need. From a price point, you may have some luck using a USB Nintendo switch controller, they work on a PC/Windows.

  • I built my own, it's not super cheap (all up about $70) but the quality is quite good. It's also a fun project to enjoy with your kids too.

    Something like this DIY kit and case will do the trick.

    For better quality parts, I bought most of them from OzStick.

    It's been a while but I don't recall you need to solder anything so it's a fairly simple project.

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