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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Sun Jan 03, 2021 11:40 am

In November I purchased and started to play an incredibly bad ass new C64 game called MW Ultra (Metal Warrior Ultra). I'm still waiting on the physical boxed copy (lordy!) but when you buy it you instantly get to download the entire package. In fact, I think you get to download it a ludicrous 64 times.

From a technical and game design standpoint, MW Ultra is very easily a high watermark in 8-bit gaming. It's sort of a Metroid style of platform adventure. But the world is set in a gritty ghetto with biker gangs, your character looks to be like Kurt Russel out of Shadowrun, and you have to explore a rather immense world filled with a multitude of very difficult enemies.

All along the way, you're given one of the best inventory managers for weapons I've ever seen on a C64 game. It's just frakking brilliant. On top of that, as you increase in experience you are given the choice of where you'd like to place earned skills and abilities in an RPG style format that really takes the experience to a whole new level.

Anyway, while playing that game I realized I should probably invest in a professional joystick for the first time ever. I have some really great joysticks, don't get me wrong, but this game felt like it truly deserved more. And all of my favorite Twitch streamers use something called a Monster Joystick.

I was going to match the joystick with my Ultimate64, which has smoked black plastic. I went with what they call "purple" because to my eye it looked pretty close to Commodore blue. It's a hefty price, especially when you are shipping from the UK to the USA, but you get arcade quality Sanwa buttons and a legitimate, professional joystick. It's precisely the same kind I used to install in cabinets when I was working in arcades a billion years ago.
Blue eyes. Baby's got... blue eyes.

Worth noting, you have to construct the joystick yourself. You get laser cut acrylic parts, and you have to use little bolts and nuts to put it all together. This is how they are able to keep prices below $100 and still deliver very high quality parts. You have to take a bit of a hit on the box, which is really more for setting on a table than resting in your hand.

And mine had a problem. The 4 bolts that hold the joystick use lock washers. What I didn't realize when I was installing things was one of my botls, which are square right below the head, had a very slight flange to it. As a result, it wouldn't sit perfectly flat when I was screwing the nut on from the other side. As a result I could never fully tighten it and it ultimately chewed right through acrylic. I showed Monster Joysticks what happened and, to their credit, instantly shipped me an entirely new top piece as well as 4 more batches of hardware.

When I made my original purchase I also got a top clear shell. This, I told myself, would allow me to some day stick some sort of artwork in there so I could bling it out like an old school arcade cabinet.

This weekend, with all of my parts at the ready, I decided to take the Monster apart and finally have at it. It took me a while to decide upon what to put in there. I knew I wanted something iconic, and ideally something that would create a complimentary color contrast to the blue ball and buttons. And then I went to some of my recent Heavy Metal mags. I instantly knew the image I wanted to use.
Cover art by Frank Frazetta, "Death Dealer" 1973.

I could see the width of the magazine was almost a perfect fit from edge-to-edge. I would have to encroach into the spine a little bit, though.

I carefully removed the cover from the rest of the pages. The cover is printed on very high-quality card stock, so it wasn't to hard.

I then used the extra top with the damaged hole as my template guide. I moved it around the image to find the exact area I wanted to use.

Once I had it where I wanted, I used a warm grey art marker to trace every single area I would need to cut out. I used the plastic box top and carefully cut the main image out.

Next I got out my metal ruler and started to cut out the thin, straight rectangular cutouts with an x-acto knife. The circles I did free-hand, and for the tiny screw holes I just cut a small "x" for each.

After cutting out the holes, I used the warm grey marker again on the inside of each cut as I didn't want any bright white paper fluff to show after I put things back together.

So far so good!

I tested my cuts by placing the art between the two pieces of plastic. Everything looked good to me.

I then reassembled the top shell.

The only real tricky part of the assmbly are these tiny side bolts where you have to carefully balance their tiny nuts in the wall of the box. Once over-correction and the nut can drop right inside the box and make you curse a bit.

Once I was done, I used the marker one last time for the artwork's most outer edge to lose any white edges that I saw. I had also used it on the creases where the spine had been to cover up those cracks a bit better.


I dig it.

Looks super sweet with my blue C64 kickstarter case, too! =)

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Posted Wed Jan 20, 2021 6:20 am

Great idea! Looks super cool, like the color combo with the yellowish Heavy Metal cover 8-)

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