Continued: How does it feel?
One great thing Ultimarc did with the restrictor
options is allow you to tell the UltraStik which restrictor it has
installed or none installed. The advantage here is that it can report
the full analog range of travel even when it is restricted to a
During my testing I made the mistake of leaving
the joystick with no restrictor installed in circular restrictor
mode. This resulted in some strange behavior because the stick was
able to go past where the restrictor should have been. So, make
sure you have the restrictor setting set properly.
It also comes from Ultimarc with the standard
spring. I call this spring the light spring because it is very light.
An optional hard spring is actually a two spring kit right now as
Andy is trying to determine which spring people prefer. One is heavier
than the other. This currently gives you 3 spring options, light,
medium, and heavy. In the future, it may be a choice of just heavy
The standard UltraStik is what I think of as an
ideal analog joystick. It has a long throw and light spring pressure.
This setup is perfect if you play analog games where precision pointing
After playing around with all the options, I've
settled on a configuration that I think is more ideal for general
cabinet usage. It is the circular restrictor with the medium spring.
This configuration makes playing 2/4/8/49 way games much better
than the stock configuration and still allows enough precision to
play analog games as well.
You can also choose a ball top or oval top and
short shaft or long shaft. I didn't test these as I prefer the ball
top and my metal control panel works great with the shorter shaft.
You will probably want the longer shaft if you have a wood control
There is no quick switching from one restrictor
type to another without disassembling the stick, so my recommendation
is to find a configuration that you like best and stick with it.
The UltraStik 360 will fit control
panels already drilled for a standard Happ joystick. Another nice
touch is that the mounting plate can be rotated on the stick 90
degrees allowing you to use the mounting plate in a portrait or
landscape configuration. It comes in landscape (wider than tall),
but my already drilled metal CP lined up much better with the mounting
plate taller than wide.
The Ultrastik 360 is very smooth and quiet with
no clicking from microswitches. Also, you will not have a physical
restriction with the UltraStik. If you load a 4-way map, it will
only report 4 directions, but it does not physically stop you from
going into a diagonal. To me this is an easy trade off for not having
to deal with the hassle of manually switching the stick. It may
take time to get used to this if you are accustomed to a restricted
stick or if you are accustomed to the feedback or feel of microswitches.
Since it is detected as a standard HID game pad,
there are no operating system drivers to worry about. Just plug
it in and it should be detected, installed, and ready to play with
in the Game Controllers applet of the control panel. You will need
software that supports game pads to use it, unless you are using
output mode with a keyboard encoder.
You will definitely want to install the latest
version of the UltraMap software from Ultimarc's Website. This software
does the entire configuration for the UltraStik. The maps from the
mapping section are from UltraMap.
The first thing you notice in UltraMap is that
it shows 4 UltraStik's. Each UltraStik can have an ID of 1-4. By
default, they all arrive from Ultimarc as ID 1, but you can easily
change them to another ID using UltraMap. This would set a limit
on UltraStik's in a system to 4. It might be possible that you could
install more than 4; but perhaps you couldn't control and configure
them at the same time.
If you installed a restrictor, you need to set
this in the software, choose a map and program the stick.
A nice feature of the UltraStik is that once you
program it, it remembers its ID, restrictor setting, and map until
you reprogram it. It has NVRAM memory to do this, so you could program
it, unplug it for a year, plug it back in and it will be right where
you left it.
UltraMap allows has a quiet programming feature
which sends maps down to all available UltraStik's without any dialogs.
This is useful for configuring an UltraStik right before you start
a specific game.
I played various 4-way, 8-way, 49-way, and analog
games with the UltraStik and its mapping feature worked great. I
really like that the UltraStik has more throw than the T-Stik Plus
I am used to using, even with the circular restrictor on. It is
also silent because there are no switches clicking on and off.
In fact, it worked so well in all the games I
tried, I mistakenly thought it would play every game and tried it
with a trackball game. While the analog precision is great in games
that used an analog stick, the problem with trying to play a trackball
game is that a trackball has no defined range. You can spin a trackball
forever in the same direction, and you certainly can't do that with
a joystick. MAME developers could modify their code to get this
to work better than it does now. They could make it operate like
that little eraser TrackPoint device on some notebooks. The harder
(or farther) you press the UltraStik, the faster it pushes the "trackball"
in that direction. This would still not be a true trackball replacement,
but it would be much better than what is available now and would
probably make some trackball games playable with the UltraStik.
This really is no fault of the UltraStik; it isn't a trackball after
Here are the current products offered by Ultimarc
relating to the UltraStik:
- UltraStik 360 Red Ball Top with USB Cable
- UltraStik 360 Red or Black Oval Top with
USB Cable $59
- Aux. Interface Wiring Harness $8
- Long Handle Shaft for Ball Top $12
- Long Handle Shaft for Oval Top $12
- Optional Hard Spring $5 (Currently 2 Springs)
- Extra Ball Tops $8 (Red, Black, Light Blue,
Light Green, and small Black)
- Restrictor Kit $14 (Circular, 4/8-Way, Hardware)
So, you can spend as little as $59 or as much
as $106 depending on the configuration you want.
Personally, the two options I would want at minimum
are (1) Hard Spring, and (2) Restrictor Kit. To me this creates
the best UltraStik for all around MAME cabinet usage, ideal for
2-way/4-way/8-way/49-way all in one joystick with a great throw
and spring pressure.
I have heard that Andy is thinking about different
changes to the UltraStik so this product list may change in the
I'd like to see him offer an UltraStik more like
the one I prefer as standard, and also a UltraStik mega pack that
includes all the options at a special price for people like me who
want to spend time tinkering and configuring it until they find
something just right.
The UltraStik is the priciest joystick in the
RetroBlast Joystick Roundup, but it is not that much more than the
Happ Perfect 360 and the UltraStik provides so much more capability.
Something else to keep in mind when comparing the price to other
joysticks is that the UltraStik does not require an external encoder.
There isn't anything I don't like about the UltraStik.
It can be used as a single joystick solution to play all 2-way,
4-way, 8-way, 49-way, and analog games without having to manually
switch. I think it is ideal for MAME cabinets.
About the only thing it has against it is that
it is not physically restricted, so when playing a 4 way game, you
will be able to go into the diagonals even though the diagonals
won't be reported. For some people this won't be a big deal, but
it might for some.
One really cool thing you can do with it is design
your own maps. You can design a map to help you play a specific
game better and it just might result in a higher score!
I also can't say enough positive things about
Ultimarc. Do any search of Ultimarc or Andy and you will find a
company and person that will go out of their way to help their customers.
They happen to have great products as well as great support.
- Acts as a 2-way, 4-way, 4-way diagonal,
8-way, 49-way, and Analog joystick
- No manual switching, all maps can be software
- No wearable switches or contacts
- No encoder necessary
- Also supports 8 buttons
- Does not support a true physical restriction.
- Does not support rotary mode.
Go Back to Part 1
Ultrastik at Ultimarc.com
the The Ultimarc UltraStik 360
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