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April 2015 Retro Gaming Article

April 8, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Vintage items like the Stick Station show how wide open gaming was in the 80s

Long before Funcoland and others melded into gaming conglomerate, GameStop, there weren't any "game" stores. Neither consumers or retailers knew what to make of video games. Stores that sold TVs and stereos seemed a good fit, but toy stores seemed a likely destination too. In the early 80s, video games had not yet categorized themselves. Anyone with the means to sell Atari's 2600 wanted to!

Stick Station for Atari 2600 joysticks I bought my first 2600 at an appliance store. Amongst washers, dryers, and refrigerators was that amazing device that would let me play Space Invaders in my living room! The market was wide open and all sorts of products came into the fray.

As odd as the Stick Station (made by Skywriter in Louisville, KY) may seem, it wasn't alone in being a fairly odd product. The Atari was making a fortune and the VCS was insanely popular. Everyone wanted to be associated with it, thus a lot of "unique" products came to market.

I found the Atari 2600 joystick very comfortable, but I love the idea of the Stick Station. As much as the 2600 joystick was similar to arcade controls, it obviously lacked the stability of an arcade setup. I'd have loved something that would have given more rigidity to the stick for extended play.

Stick Station for Atari 2600 joysticks Folks laugh at the enormous 2-player custom joysticks we made, but the purpose to the size was to offer a stable play surface that would allow manic play without the sticks moving around. Rubber feet helped too :)

Despite the size, I'll bet the Stick Station would be a great benefit in a long gaming session - and you can't beat $14.95!. I know the custom (enormous) sticks we built made game play a delight. I recall frequently adjusting my grip and position with the 2600 sticks over time, but having a more immobile setup really makes a big difference.

I'd love to see a Station Stick. It must be routed from the top to nestle the controller, but I'm curious about the routing for the cable and how the bottom is constructed so the Atari stick doesn't slip through.

This Station Stick ad says it works with Atari and Wico. I have Wico sticks for both the 2600 and 5200, but I'm not familiar with all their sticks. The Wico I have for the 2600 has a larger footprint than the stock Atari stick and wouldn't fit in the routed area of the Station Stick. Perhaps they have a smaller model.

Although a simple device, I think it's pretty clever and would love to own one. I've seen this item on several lists of "useless game accessories" and being blatantly dismissed. I can't help wonder how anyone whose played in arcades wouldn't at least be curious about the Station Stick's effect on game play. Nothin beats the solid feel of an arcade stick and this slab seems to be a very easy way to add a more robust feel to Atari's home joystick!

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