Competition Pro 25th Anniversary Edition & Games Collection
For those of us who like to play retro games, the downsides of that hobby are a familiar problem: setting up emulators (with the necessary ROM files in some cases) and finding and installing the games that we'd like to play. And even then we are often stuck with keyboard controls, instead of being able to use the joysticks of the old.
Fortunately, there are some companies that recognise this retro trend and try and cater to this gamer community. Speedlink has been selling replicas of the old Competition Pro joysticks for a while now, bundled with Magnussoft's ready-to-run classic games from the eras of Commodore 64 and Amiga. Now, to celebrate the 25th birthday of the Competition Pro joystick, Speedlink and Magnussoft have put together a fancy Anniversary Edition that includes a gold-coloured Competition Pro joystick and a bundle of 50 classic games to play with it.
The Anniversary Edition is limited to 10'000 copies and each comes with a special golden authenticity certificate and individual production number printed both on the card and on the bottom of the joystick itself.
Getting to the goods
The joystick comes packed into a transparent plastic box with black and gold design. The joystick is affixed to the bottom of the box with a nice red ribbon. Although I was more of a fan of the TAC-2 joystick (the early editions, the later ones were more fragile) in my youth, the form of the Competition Pro was still familiar enough to me to immediately send me back in time to my youth. Except for the fact that the joysticks of old never came in full gold colour.
In addition to the joystick, the box contains a CD and some extraneous paper stuff that I tossed aside as I dug through it. The CD naturally contains the game bundle and is therefore something that you want to keep around.
Design and installation
The installation of the joystick is as simple as plugging it in and waiting for the automatic installation of the necessary drivers. After installation I found that the driver software is very basic – you will not even have the possibility of assigning the buttons as you want them. This makes the set-up rather inconvenient for left-handed gamers when playing the Amiga games, as the primary fire button is the one in the far left corner of the joystick, making it somewhat harder to reach if your hands are small (fortunately not a problem with my hands). In C64 games, all the buttons behave the same.
The accompanying CD allows you to install the accompanying two game bundles – called C64 Classix and Amiga Classix – that each contain “25 Best of” games. The installation is over relatively quickly and you are free to launch one of the bundles and start gaming.
For some reason, the C64 bundle did not have the joystick activated by default and one has to do this manually from the settings of the game launcher. Theoretically, this needs to be done only once, after which the launcher saves the setting and allows you to play all the games with the joystick activated. Unfortunately, in my Win7 set-up, the settings file didn't save and I had to reload my preferred settings for every game I tried.
The Amiga bundle and the WinUAE emulator worked better with the joystick, although some games are designed for mouse-based gameplay, so the joystick was unnecessary in these cases. An interesting aspect of the emulator is that it even emulates the load times and accompanying disk drive sounds of the original Amiga. So, even after all these years you have to endure load times between scenes in such games as It Came From The Desert.