Retro Scan of the Week: Epyx 500XJ Joystick

May 15th, 2006 by Benj Edwards
Epyx 500XJ Joystick

This is from a late-80s Epyx catalog. The Epyx 500XJ joystick is actually my favorite Atari 2600-compatible joystick. It uses microswitches exclusively (instead of conductive rubber pads or metal “domes”), making it responsive with a great tactile feel, and yet rugged to stand up to lots of playing. The design of the stick’s base is very ergonomic, fitting perfectly in your left hand. The only awkward thing about it is the button placement: repeatedly hitting the button by “curling” your index finger upward can get painful fast. Still, if you build up your finger muscles, it’s a gem of a joystick. I’d love to get a NES version of this stick just for novelty’s sake.

I’m sure many of you are also familiar with the Epyx Fast Load Cartridge, which is also on this catalog page. Feel free to share and discuss your memories of your C64 past…while I unpack more computers.

16 Responses to “Retro Scan of the Week: Epyx 500XJ Joystick”

  1. Xerone Says:

    Looks cool, though I haven’t ever heard of one before. (The Commodore 64 is a tad bit old for me, though I do have one in the basement that I use to play when I was young… Ahh, Jack Attack…)

    There is a NES one for ya.

    Have fun unpacking everything.

  2. Adam V. Says:

    “he only awkward thing about it is the button placement: repeatedly hitting the button by “curling” your index finger upward can get painful fast. Still, if you build up your finger muscles, it’s a gem of a joystick.”

    I dunno, I have one of these and continually find it painful and awkward to use the buttons.

  3. Bjorn Nitmo Says:

    They’re great joysticks. If you want with with (yellow/black) or without (red/black) autofire, you can get them new in the box from here:

  4. Atari130XE Says:

    Hah.. I actually remember that one.. Great!

  5. Todd Says:

    I never knew about the Fast Load Catridge. That would’ve been a gem when booting up long loading games like Realm of Impossibility.

  6. crazey game player Says:

    sounds wierd! i bet it feels akwerd for the first touch.

  7. Jean-Luc Says:

    @Bjorn Nitmo

    I see you are mentionning JPPBM. Are there still in business? I have tried contacting them on several occasions, but they never answered…

  8. Grown Up Gamer » Grandaddy of the Nun-Chuk Controller? Says:

    […] I knew there was something about Nintendo’s new “nun-chuck” controller style that I just couldn’t quite put my finger on. Then it hit me. The part with the stick looks just like the Epyx 500XJ Joystick that I had for my old Commodore 64. I loved that controller. Even after the top half of the stick broke off, it was better than any other device at the time. Everything had a very satisfying click to it. […]

  9. Bob Says:

    I can’t tell you how many joysticks I went through until I found this gem. The Epyx 500XJ was THE premier joystick for the C64. It was a precision instrument. Really, there was no alternative. The click was indeed very satisfying. The last joystick I ever needed to buy.

  10. hibiscusroto Says:

    yeah those were the best. i kicked winter games in the ass with one of those during the c64 dynasty.

  11. Hazumi Says:

    I was just thinking about this today. Yes, the nunchuck is SOO like this. I had a box full of these for my Amiga. I even had one for the PC, although it was used much less. The buttons were a pain in button mashing games like Street Fighter clones. The stick owned in Madden, though.

  12. Jared Says:

    I loved this Joystick when I was a kid. Best ever. It fit perfect in your hand and was really solid. It also clicked in every direction making it really easy to maneuver. I wonder if I could use this on my computer now.. with ROM emulators..

  13. Benj Edwards Says:

    Jared, if you buy a Stelladapter, you can use any Atari VCS-compatible joystick on a PC through a USB interface:

    If it weren’t $40, I’d buy one myself. 🙂

  14. Kodai Says:

    I just bought an unopened 500XJ off eBay. I’ve really missed it the past 23 years. Works great with the stelladaptor and Commodore emulators, Atari emulators, Amiga emulators, MAME, and many other emulators.

    Just for fun, I filled out and mailed the warranty card. Would love to see the look on the face of the person who gets it. Great looking through the included catalog at all the old software that I havent used/seen for decades. Great little stick, and worth the trip down memmory lane. It was also only $3.68 and that included shipping. Yes, only $3.68. Not bad for an unopened classic like the 500XJ!

  15. SpeedyJ97 Says:

    I have one that’s Atari compatible. I actually have it from my Ti-99 system I had as a kid. I hooked it up the other day and I was hooked again! Got on ebay and won an NES version for 6.99 Free ship. Sweet.

  16. Degoragon Says:

    These are personally my favorite joystick, they are nice and responsive, and I love how it fits in your hand. its a great stick! I bought a pair of these at a thrift store for $1.00 back in 2004, as a kid, and I still have them.

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