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Panther XL - Wikipedia

MadCatz Panther XL Tue, 24 September Years ago, some people formed First-Person Gaming and devised a trackball mouse called the Assassin 3D. It even digitally filters the analog joystick's axes to MadCatz Panther XL spiking and other irregularities to a minimum. Later on, they sold the Assassin 3D's basic tech to Mad Catz, and the Panther line of products arose, one being a standalone trackball like the Assassin 3D, and the other notable one being the Panther XL, a huge flight stick with a trackball on its left side.

Despite a stick that caters to flight simulation with its design, a thumb-operated throttle rotary, and an input MadCatz Panther XL analog gameport rudder pedals, it was mostly advertised as a FPS controller and is primarily used as one by its diehard fans. Yes, it has a cult following.

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That's part of why I had to buy it for a review the moment I saw one MadCatz Panther XL eBay for cheap, just as I do with most exotic input devices. The layout is distinctly left-handed compared to the norm, with the left hand to aim and the right hand to move compared to similar setups like the arcade shooter The Grid, with a left-hand movement joystick and a right-hand aiming trackballwhich can't be reversed like discrete components, but this has proven to be surprisingly adaptable for a right-hander like myself.

The trackball itself is decent.

Mad Catz Panther XL - joystick - wired

Mechanical encoders, steel ball bearings, and a ball with some weight to it. The ball itself is translucent red with additional red LED backlighting underneath; there's a switch on the bottom to MadCatz Panther XL the backlighting on or off, as desired.

I'm guessing that the increase in centering force outside of the slop zone is primarily not from any gimbal springs, but from the rubber boot around the stick shaft. The Panther XL also has a reputation for unreliable joystick wiring harnesses due to the quality of wire used and a stick shaft that tends to put undue stress on the wires; fortunately, the one in this unit is fully functional. Said stick MadCatz Panther XL four easy-to-reach buttons and two 4-way hat switches, with the buttons kinda arranged like a B-8 grip the one the Thrustmaster FCS is modeled after with an extra hat switch.

While no 8-way support on either hat switch is a bit of a disappointment, I'm quite glad it has an extra hat MadCatz Panther XL on the stick itself, something more flight sticks that aren't part of premium HOTAS setups could use. Seriously, for ideal control in a modern combat flight sim, you need around six or seven hats if you don't want to resort to shift commands. The buttons do feel kind of cheap and don't have much throw to them, though. Also, the hat switches are short-throw with a noticable click in each direction, and they generally feel a lot like the ones CH Products uses.


Finally, the buttons are coated with some sort of rubberized finish that hasn't aged well at all. The throttle rotary on the base is small, but fairly easy to reach with the left thumb. Unfortunately, this one must be gummed up with the aforementioned rubberized stuff that isn't doing its job, because it feels viscous and MadCatz Panther XL to move.

Mad Catz Panther XL (MC) Video Games Controller eBay

I should open it up, clean it off, and see if that helps any. DirectInput-wise, it presents itself as a button, 6-axis device with a single hat switch the middle one being the DI hat switch while the right hat serves as buttons 5 through 8. Some oddities of this arrangement are that button 2 is assigned to the thumb button on the stick's side while the top thumb button is DI button 3, as opposed to the TM FCS arrangement of button 2 on top and incrementing downwards; there is no way to remap this other than by physically rewiring the switches. Another strange thing concerns the rudder axis; if you don't have rudder MadCatz Panther XL connected, then the trackball emulates the rudder with its X-axis input, which works in a relative fashion since trackballs obviously aren't self-centering.

Axes 5 and 6 are absolute inputs for the trackball motion, so they re-center when the trackball stops. It's also a problem if you try to use the Panther XL like a typical analog joystick instead; it must be something about how the digital gameport interface works. The really interesting thing is that Hexen had honest-to-goodness vertical mouselook with the Panther XL trackball, something I thought impossible without a modern Doom source port.

Panther XL

That may have accounted for some of the Assassin 3D's cult following back in the day. Unfortunately, you can't invert the vertical pitch axis on the trackball on either MadCatz Panther XL, so I hope you like pushing up to look downwards.


So why bother with a controller with an obsolete interface? Some of us like to play old games with period-appropriate peripherals, but the other reason is that there's one particular person who makes a side business of refurbishing and converting these Panther XL controllers to USB, turning the trackball into a USB mouse based on the Logitech G so sensor quality won't be a complaint and the joystick half into, well, a joystick that also has a keyboard emulation mode in the latest revisions, making for more plug-and-play FPS compatibility if you don't care about having true analog movement. They use the analog gameport interface to begin with unless the stick and throttle have the rare SWF22 digital upgrade chips installed and might benefit from the Assassin 3D's digital filtering and extra axes, for all I know.

Geekhack's all about input devices with cult followings, right? The Panther XL by Mad Catz is a joystick and trackball combination that is used to replace the keyboard and mouse for player movement in first-person shooter. Find great deals for Mad Catz MadCatz Panther XL XL (MC) Video Games Controller. Shop with confidence on eBay!


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