Playtest: The Shaft Virtual Console joystick

As old school gamers on Wii the only thing we missed was a joystick peripheral for that authentic arcade feel

. Back in the days anyone who was serious about Street Fighter II on the SNES would have owned a Super Advantage joystick. The NEO GEO was famed for the quality of its joystick – indeed it was almost as big as the console itself. Why hasn’t Nintendo released an official joystick for the Wii yet?

Worry not retro fans because Overline Gaming have heard your cries and have created the Wii Shaft joystick to bring back the feel of the arcade into your own home. Phallic puns aside, we got our hands on one of these recently and have tested it out with some of our favourite Virtual Console games to see if it was any good.

Sadly the stick is wired so you’ll need to plug it into one of your Gamecube ports on the Wii. The manufacturer claims that this is because wireless controllers can have delays in response times which can cause problems on some games. We haven’t noticed anything like this with the Classic Controller ourselves but we’ll have to give them the benefit of the doubt on that score. At least it won’t chew up lots of batteries! The cable length is around 180cm so I could sit a decent distance away from my TV.

There are six large action buttons which map to Y, X, L, B, A, R. In addition to that there are start, select/Z and a turbo button so you can enable rapid fire on buttons of your choosing. At 28cm x 15cm it is just about the right size also.

The build quality is great and it feels really solid to use. Not only does it work for digital games like SFII which traditionally you controlled with a D-pad but it also works nicely on analogue games such as Mario Kart 64.

So how well did it do in our play test?

Super Mario Bros (NES) - The shaft performs nicely. You can really pound the jump button just like it used to be in the arcade. Happy times.

R-Type (TG16) – The Shaft works like a dream here. Controlling the R9 never felt so good. I even assigned a turbo function to the Y button so I could do rapid fire. I could still use the B button for charge attacks. Back of the net!

Starfox 64 (N64) - The analogue control works great, but there is nothing to use for a C-Stick unlike the classic controller so I can’t somersault or u-turn! FAIL

F-Zero X (N64) - Oh yes, now we’re in business. This game plays nicely with a stick. I got first place easily!

Shinobi III (MD) - The Megadrive button layout felt a little odd at first. B is ninja magic, A is action and X is jump. It would have been nice to swap X for R but once I got used to the layout it didn’t matter. Its not the Shaft’s fault is it?

Super SFII (SNES) - Now this was the true test, could I pull off a chain of hadokens consistently? Despite my joystick skills being a tad rusty I felt I did pretty good with the Shaft, I noticed a marked improvement over my performance with the D-pad. When I rested the stick on a chair and it was much easier to pull uppercuts and fireballs most of the time.

Super Smash Bros Brawl (Wii) - The game plays nicely with the Shaft. I preferred this to just using the Classic Controller which is what I normally use.

Viewtiful Joe (Gamecube) - I always wanted to play this game with a stick and the Shaft does a nice job, much better than the Gamecube controller.

On the whole we can heartily recommend this stick. It is comfortable to use for longer gaming sessions and does what it says on the tin (or plastic packaging!). If you are in the market for buying a joystick for your Wii you can’t go far wrong here.

You can buy the Shaft in white, black and pink colours direct from the Shaft website. They will set you back $39.95 for one or $69.95 for two which isn’t bad value for money we think. Shipping outside the USA is available at extra cost.

The alternatives to the Wii Shaft are the Neo Geo Stick 2 and the Hori Fighting Stick Wii but we haven't used either of those to date so cannot say how they compare.