Gaming/Gamepads for XP home
I have a 9 year old P4 with XP home and I want to get a controller that will play with Windows 98 games that I run on
XP and also the XP games. 1st choice is Xbox 1 controller, 2nd is PS4 controller, and third choice would be Xbox 360 controller. Would one of these work? Will I have to get an old controller to play the Windows 98 games?
ANSWER: You would need to be more specific - "the Windows 98 games" is fairly vague. That said, of the controllers you've listed, only the Xbox360 controller is directly Windows compatible (Microsoft actually sells a "for Windows" version), and software exists to improve functionality with games that do not include native controller support. Alternately I would suggest one of the Logitech PC game controllers, as they've been around for quite a while and many applications support them. There may still be the odd game that never works completely right with a controller, because it either requires more buttons than a controller can ever offer, isn't compatible with the controller's software, or isn't as straight-forward to play when enabled with a controller. That is simply a caveat of using a gamepad device with a PC.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hi Bob,
The first response went into the spam folder, which I didn't notice until now. I just got your response. Sorry about that. I have almost every Star Wars PC game from Lucasarts which I'd like to use with a controller. Would the X-Wing Collector's series (1998 version which supports 3-D cards) work with the Xbox 360 controller? I also have NFL Blitz 2000. These are both for Windows 98 and they work on XP.(My OS)
thanks for your help,
Many of the Star Wars games are not flying/driving games, and the gameplay thus may not lend itself to use with a controller (they may need more buttons/modifiers/etc than any controller could reasonably offer, or it may just not be very ergonomic to use a controller - I'm thinking of titles like Dark Forces II or Galactic Battlegrounds, for example). For the games that do feature flying/driving/etc where a joystick controller may make more sense, and you can check against the XInput list on Wikipedia for full support of the X360 controller: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_games_with_XInput_support
(you will require at least Service Pack 1 for Windows XP). Something generic to keep in mind with PC-based shooters and RPGs is that many of them, especially older titles, will use all of the F or number keys for inventory management, which may cause problems with a controller.
If the game doesn't support XInput, the Xbox360 controller can also function as a DirectInput device, with some limitations. See here for more information: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/ee417014
Finally, you may use a software application like Xpadder in the event your chosen game doesn't work properly with XInput or DirectInput: http://xpadder.com/
(it is not entirely free software) It would allow you to remap key functions to buttons on the controller.
See this PC World for more details about what it does, including screenshots: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2010931/xpadder-play-pc-games-with-a-game-control
Alternately, Logitech's (less expensive) gamepad includes their own software that provides the functionality of Xpadder, as well as full XInput/DirectInput support (if I remember right it can also be plugged into some consoles, like the Xbox360, that support XInput as well). It is more similar to the PlayStation DualShock controllers in layout though: http://gaming.logitech.com/en-us/product/f310-gamepad
If the different physical layout isn't a problem for you, I would probably go with the Logitech solution as it costs less, will provide similar/equivalent functionality, and Logitech has a solid reputation for well made PC peripherals.
Finally, while this is unrelated to our discussion, I've been making it a habit to notify Windows XP users that Microsoft has officially discontinued support for XP, and that it is not advisable to continue using XP as your Internet-enabled machine. See here for more information: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/end-support-help
Given the context of your usage, it is likely necessary to retain Windows XP to support some older games, however dual-booting with a newer operating system like Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 (if the computer can handle it) would be advisable, and is very easy to configure (you simply install the newer Windows on an open partition, and it automatically configures the bootloader for you - you will be presented with an option which OS to load every time the machine starts thereafter). Alternately, if the machine running Windows XP cannot handle the requirements of a newer operating system, a new machine may be a worthwhile consideration for web browsing and other daily tasks, and relegate the Windows XP machine to gaming and supporting other legacy applications offline.
If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.