Yes, Mame changes the input to equivalent in analog joystick pot input.
Therefore, you can not hook up a true 49 way joystick
with mame without a hardware hack that changes the optical
signals into equivalent analog pot readings.
But, in Sinistar's case, its even more special. Sinistar
uses a special rubber "X" shaped centering system.
Most analog joysticks use a single metal center spring,
or two springs (one for each axis).
With a typical analog joystick, it requires a certain
amount of force to break free of the center. That same
amount of pressure will be the same, no matter how far
the stick is pushed away from the center - partly due
to the sticks leverage.
With a sinistar "rubber-x", each of the 4 legs of the "X"
is tied into each other. The further you move away from the center... the more pressure is required. So, it gets harder and harder to move out to the farthest edges. This makes it 10x easier to control the ship.
(As you stretch 1 leg of the rubber X, the other 2 are also pulled... thus you get 3x as much resistance... which multiples the further the main directional leg is stretched)
With Sinistar, you have to balance your speed and direction very acurately, going very slow and picking up
the small slower moving crystals... to Very fast, to avoid
enemy attacks & chasing after swift moving crystals.
With a normal analog stick, its far too easy to
accidentally push the stick too far, and thus you overshoot
a crystal by going too fast - blowing right by it. Even
controlling the ships vector is harder without the extra
resistance. (and the added leverage and huge clumsy
Another advantage of the X system, is that there is almost
no resistance in the centermost area. In a typical analog,
you have a very hard resistance in the centermost area,
making it very hard to maintain highly detailed accuracy
in that area. To combat this, programmers make a certain
deadzone area, as well as programming the game to weight
the centermost readings as much weaker than the mid to end
Now, If Mame had the option to select "Arcade Control Mode", it would allow people to use a Real Sinistar controller. You would see manufacturers like Ramcontrols.com remake the control for the masses of fans, as well as to repair the original machines.
True pot analog control is good, with a modified analog
joystick... But, is it really arcade accurate? Its certainly
acceptable compared to other travesties, such as
the game "720", which Nothing can control properly with.
(trying to do fast spins well with an analong stick is
ridiculous - even with the spring removed)
(( The game needs the dual dial input option, with the 2nd
calibration dial operational. People have no problem with
making and buying spinners. A simple modification of a
spinner can be easily made to be able to read the
calibration input. Heck, Ramcontrols is already working
on duplicating new 720 controllers... but nobody
could use them except the machine owners.. cause mame
simply does not allow the real controller to be input... )
It should not be up to the users and manufacturers to
develop hardware workarounds for mames substandard
and inaccurate input schemes. Nor should the users
have to be programmers and be forced to compile in
new code on an individual basis.