By Lawrence I. Charters
Basic Computing, July 1983, p. 118
Kraft Systems Joystick Model KJS-01T Color Computer Joystick
Kraft Systems Co.
450 W. California Ave. Vista, CA 92083
Western U.S.: (800) 854-1923
Eastern U.S.: (800) 633-1478
California: (800) 542-6436
Though Color Computers are inexpensive, their performance is anything but “cheap” – except for the joysticks. Critics contend that Radio Shack’s joysticks are sluggish, imprecise, have poor “feel,” and look “cheap.” Kraft Systems, which may be the world’s largest manufacturer of precision control sticks and gimbals (used in graphic display systems, medical systems, and radio controlled models), has designed a joystick to overcome these criticisms. It is easy to use, precise, never sluggish, has excellent (and adjustable) “feel,” and is definitely not cheap.
Unlike some sticks developed for the Color Computer, no special software or adapters are necessary for the Kraft joystick. It plugs right in. Though Kraft claims it is “color matched to your computer,” the stick is a true battleship gray and not a Tandy silver. The “fire” button is smaller than that on Radio Shack’s stick, and is also located on the top left corner of the base, making it slightly less convenient for left-handed users.
On the bottom of the case are two recessed “mode” toggle switches . Depending on how they are set, the stick is either “free-floating” (like the Radio Shack joystick) or “self-centering” (springs return the stick to the center on release). Two trim controls on top of the case allow for extremely accurate adjustment of the stick. Using these controls, the stick can be “centered” anywhere on the screen. Through a combination of trim control adjustments and mode switch settings, it is fairly easy to set the stick to act like a paddle – great for tennis and “break-out” type games.
As far as performance goes, this is as much a function of application as stick quality. For drawing detailed, accurate pictures on the screen, the Kraft joystick is clearly superior to Radio Shack’s stick. In some games, such as Spectral Associate’s Ghost Gobbler and Radio Shack’s Polaris and Galactic Attack, players noted a 30% to 120% improvement in their scores. On the other hand, little difference was noted when playing Radio Shack’s Project Nebula or Pinball. Probably the best indication of quality was revealed through the democratic process: In two-player games using both the Kraft and Radio Shack sticks, the weaker players always chose the Kraft joystick.
There still remains the question, “Does anyone need a $65 joystick?” If you are interested in game playing, probably only one is required. Few games require two joysticks, and in two-player games, the better player can always be gracious and accept the “handicap” of a Radio Shack stick. For professional game and graphics designers, play testers, and owners who want the very best, a pair might be a better investment.