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The Ultimarc UltraStik 360 Joystick
Part 2


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 smaller range.

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 or light.

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 is necessary.

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 panel.

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 all!



Here are the current products offered by Ultimarc relating to the UltraStik:

  • UltraStik 360 Red Ball Top with USB Cable $59
  • 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 near future.

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 programmed
  • No wearable switches or contacts
  • No encoder necessary
  • Also supports 8 buttons


  • Does not support a true physical restriction.
  • Does not support rotary mode.
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