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Happ Controls Ultimate Joystick

The Happ Controls Ultimate Joystick

The Happ Controls Ultimate joystick is a bit of an anomaly in the Happ lineup of joysticks. Why? Because, quite honestly, it's a lousy joystick. There is not much I liked about this joystick, and I'm afraid this review is going to seem more like a laundry list of complaints than a balanced examination.


The Happ Controls Ultimate Joystick

Where to begin? The Happs Ultimate is very similar to the Competition joystick, at least in appearance. It actually has two different actuators available, one for 8-way and one for 4-way operation. Unfortunately, my review stick only came with the 4-way actuator, so I'm not going to be able to give much feedback about how it fares with diagonals.


The bottom of the Ultimate joystick (left) compared to the Competition (right)

Installation

This joystick seems needlessly complicated when it comes to installation. Not only does it require the use of a different actuator to switch from 4-way operation to 8-way, it uses two different spacer bushings depending on whether it is going to be used in a metal control panel or a wood one.


The two bushings: one for metal control panels (left) and one for wood (right)

The joystick even requires a metal washer to be inserted between the actuator and the e-clip if the joystick is to be used in 4-way operation, which makes the already tricky task of snapping on the e-clip even more challenging. Nothing says "bad design" like having to add washers to get things to line up properly.

Feel

The Happ Controls Ultimate joystick has a light spring and was easy to push around. The problem is, you really have to push a long way — the Ultimate has a travel range of 17°, and you've got to push it at least 15° off center to activate a microswitch. This gives the Ultimate a really loose, almost sloppy feel.


Click the "Play" button to view the Ultimate's actuator

Click here to launch the actuator video in a separate window

Sound and Size

The Ultimate, being a microswitch-based joystick, has a distinctive "clickiness" in operation. It's noiser than the Competition, but not by a lot.

When installed, the Ultimate joystick slightly taller than the benchmark Competition joystick, at 2.75" tall vs. the 2.5" high of the Competion's installed height. The peartop is the same 1.25" diameter as the Competiton. It's a comfortable height and a good fit.


The Happs Ultimate Compared to the Happs Competition

Gameplay

Sloppy. It's the only word I can think of to describe the gameplay with this joystick. The extremely long 15° travel before engaging the microswitches just feels sloppy. Perhaps I've gotten too used to the short-travel joysticks, but this joystick just felt wrong, cheap, and awkward.

Since I was unfortunately unable to test the diagonal range, I can't comment on how effective the joystick was with the 8-way actuator, but I doubt it improves the experience much.


Click the "Play" button to view a comparison of the Ultimate and Competition joysticks

Click here to launch the comparison video in a separate window

Joystick Stats

The following chart lists the joystick test results, current as of this review. The chart will continue to fill in with data as the "Joystick Roundup" continues.

Click to see the Joystick Comparison Chart
Click Here to See the RetroBlast Joystick Roundup Chart

Conclusions

I'm trying very hard to think of something this joystick offers that is unique or redeeming, and I'm coming up empty. There are better joysticks out there for the same price or less, with the ability to easily switch from 8-way to 4-way, easier installation, and better overall feel. This is one "Ultimate" that isn't.

Happ Controls Ultimate Joystick Home Page

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