Review by Kevin Steele
A Centurion Comes to Visit
It's been an quick summer — here it is, just four months after I reviewed the Treyonics Devastator II controller, and Jim Krych, President of Treyonics, has dropped by again with another cool controller to review, this time their brand-spankin' new Centurion.
The Centurion is an evolutionary rather than revolutionary advance from its predecessor, but there are a lot of improvements on this controller! From the new joysticks to the improved spinner design, there are a host of refinements that really elevate this controller to the "next level."
The Centurion is just slightly bigger than its "little brother" (and I use that term loosely), but the extra space has been put to good use. Instead of the six-button layout of the Devastator II, you now have a seven button layout (with the now almost standard "Neo Geo" button).
In addition, you now have two pinball buttons on each side of the controller (nudge buttons — hurrah!), and you even have two mouse buttons (the black buttons up by the spinner) so you can use the trackball as a mouse now.
The Centurion is very similar in size to the SlikStik Classic.
It's a comfortable layout, with plenty of room for two adult players (trust me, you need shoulder room!) The button and joystick layout is well thought out, as is the placement of the mouse buttons and the spinner.
About the only nit I can pick is that it is a little bit of a reach for the player 1 coin and start buttons from the player 1 position, although I should point out that the player 1 and 2 buttons are no longer right next to each other, which should help eliminate any accidental ESC key combos when both are pushed at the same time.
The top of the Centurion controller is a slightly textured laminate with a marble pattern. While I personally prefer black, it is very nice looking and does an excellent job of hiding fingerprint smudges. The sides of the controller are also laminated with a dark "speckled marble" laminate, a nice improvement over the painted sides of the Devastator II.
As with the Devastator II, the mounting bolts that hold the top panel in place are still there, a minor nit that I really can't gripe much about, especially since the mounting bolts for the joysticks are gone, replaced by nice mounting plates. Other nice standard Treyonics touches are the carrying handle on the back of the unit and the rubber feet.
Buttons and Joysticks
The Centurion comes standard with two seven-button player setups, with a Groovy Game Gear OmniStik Prodigy joystick for player 1 and a Top Fire joystick for the player 2 position. In addition, it sports a high-lip trackball and a new, improved custom spinner unit, along with single pinball buttons on the sides.
Treyonics has made some good choices when it comes to the components used – Groovy Game Gear joysticks, buttons and trackball; a freshly redesigned spinner with components from Oscar Controls; and everything is controlled by the Ultimarc MiniPAC. This means that the entire panel connects to your PC with just one USB cable (a PS/2 connection is not possible on the MiniPAC when a spinner or trackball is connected).
Like the Devastator II, the Centurion uses the standard MAME key layout, although you can reprogram the unit if you open it up and move a jumper on the MiniPAC. No drivers are required to use the Devastator.
The joysticks used in the Centurion are both from Groovy Game Gear, including their versatile 4/8-way switchable OmniStik Prodigy. It's a good design decision, as you can easily switch to four-way with the main stick for games such as Pac-Man.
The joystick that I was most impressed with, though, was the Top Fire joystick from Groovy Game Gear. It's an unusually comfortable design (for a top fire), and I liked it quite a bit. Treyonics has come up with a two-joystick design that still provides a large number of gameplay configurations (4-way, top-fire, dual joystick, etc.)
Both of these joysticks are "short throw" designs, which may require a bit of adjustment if you're used to Happs joysticks. Still, I found both of them easy to use and accurate during gameplay.
Treyonics continues their unique button assignments, which are “upside down” compared to most controller button layouts — buttons 1, 2 and 3 are on the bottom of the set of six buttons, while buttons 4, 5, and 6 are on top (button 7 is the "Neo Geo" button):
This is a unusual but useful layout, especially if you play games that mostly use less than four buttons. If you would prefer the more standard top-to-bottom numbering, Treyonics will do that as well.
The other new buttons of note on the Centurion are the mouse buttons, located up next to the spinner. Left and Right mouse buttons are available, which finally means you can use the trackball as a "replacement mouse," a welcome addition to the design. In addition, their placement next to the spinner makes Tempest gameplay comfortable (and I'm a big Tempest fan.)
The Player start buttons are now separated, although I do wish the player 1 buttons were placed over on the player one joystick (which might be a bit of a design challenge, considering the MiniPAC is mounted right above the player one joystick!)
Like the trackball used in the Devastator, the Centurion's trackball is a high mount trackball, meaning that the ball itself sits much higher in the trackball unit, similar to the type of trackball that is used in Golden Tee arcade cabinets.
I really liked the high mount trackball setup personally, and think that my next trackball will definitely be a high-mount design. Several ball colors are available, including translucent colors.