Now that Retro Gaming has been in vogue for the best part of a decade now, it still surprises me that there is limited demand for old fashioned Joysticks. From my days owning a Spectrum, through to my Amiga 1200, I owned many different types of Joystick, including the original Competition Pro (Although I must admit the Zipstick was always my favourite on the Amiga). By the mid 90s though, control pads had taken precedent along with Sega & Nintendo with their respective consoles, but for me, whilst using modern day controllers is convenient, you’re only getting half the experience using them. This is where the Speedlink Competition Pro USB Joystick comes in.
What is the Competition Pro USB Compatible with?
The good news is that the Competition Pro USB is more or less compatible with most things, even some of the more recent niche products like The C64 Mini and it’s full size counterpart. I tested the Joystick on Windows 10, Linux, Retropie on the Raspberry Pi (Linux again) and MiSTer FPGA device and it worked flawlessly across all of these platforms.
The only niggle I found in terms of compatibility was that with the Raspberry Pi (Amiga emulation specifically) the fire button defaulted to the right hand fire button which would be great for left handed folk! I suspect a quick reconfiguration with the software you are using would solve any problems you may experience, but all other platforms defaulted the primary fire button to the left as standard – Perfect! The product is also listed on the box as Windows & Android compatible, so you will be able to get full enjoyment with Android emulators too.
How is the quality and feel of the Competition Pro USB?
Whilst you are never going to please everybody, especially Retro enthusiasts(!), the quality and build of the Competition Pro joystick USB is reasonable, at least in terms of whether you play sensibly! The real test is going to be when I load up Hyper Sports or Daley Thompson’s Decathlon and see how it fares up over the long term! It has microswitches, but again, the proof will be in many years to come after it’s seen some classic 8-bit sports game abuse! For now though, I have owned it now for around 6 months and it is still working perfectly.
Speedlink appear to have launched the first version of the USB Competition Pro back in around 2007-2008 to mixed reviews. Searching the forums, it seems there are complaints around microswitch quality as well as lag in the controls with emulators. With emulation though, it is worth remembering that software emulation itself brings a certain amount of lag, but this can be accentuated by controllers with cheap components. I am glad to say that this version (which specifically is the Speedlink Anniversary Edition Competition Pro Extra USB Joystick (Model no SL-650212-BKRD) demonstrated no such issues. Whilst testing with my MiSTer FPGA on the Minimig core, the amount of lag was negligible.
There are four fire buttons, the two main fire buttons are microswitched, but this is convenient if you want to use the Joystick with other system emulations that require more than a single fire button. There is also a rapid fire switch on the base which worked absolutely fine too.
Is the Competition Pro USB Joystick Worth It?
I paid £29.99 for mine, which some say is a tad on the expensive side. But I’ve so far been very happy with my purchase and I expect I will continue to be, so as long as it stays in working order. But given that the Retro USB Joystick landscape is fairly limited, this remains reasonably good value for a good recreation of a classic joystick. Fingers crossed this will probably be the only retro USB joystick I need to review for a while!
Where to Buy the USB Competition Pro?
I would recommend looking at both Amazon & eBay, I bought mine from Amazon, primarily due to it’s immediate availability. But you will also find plenty on ebay – Although be sure to check how ‘used’ it is, if you intend to buy a used item – Ask the seller if they’ve played any Track & Field with it first!