I’m not a huge fan of fighting games, but recently I’ve taken a liking to a few. Injustice: Gods Among Us and Persona 4 Arena have taken up quite a big chunk of my gaming time, in addition to SFIV on my 3DS and BlazBlue: Continuum Shift EXTEND on my Vita.
It’s strange that I don’t care for fighting games since I grew up in the heyday of the genre. I couldn’t tell you how much money I dropped on Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat when they first arrived at my local arcade. When each game released for the SNES; oh man…it was on! Fighting games ALL DAY LONG! But something was lost in the translation, something that prevented the in-home experience from being as smooth as popping a few quarters in at the arcade.
After arcades all but disappeared, my fighting game days were relegated to console controllers. Some may be ok with that, but personally, I never really enjoyed using a d-pad or an analog stick. It’s just not the same feeling, and a lot of the more elaborate moves were very difficult to pull off, especially when fighting games started to adopt the “super meters” with super moves. Those were damn near impossible to do on a controller.
Arcade fighting sticks aren’t anything new to console fighting games, but I never got a chance to use them. Honestly, I have enough peripherals lying around, and fighting sticks always looked too big and bulky to add to a house that’s slowly being consumed by endless baby toys. I’m running out of space, dammit!
Turns out, I have been missing out because adding a fighting stick really spices up the fighting game experience, so much that I am enjoying myself immensely these days with a genre that I basically gave up on decades ago.
Enter the Genius Arcade F-1000 fighting stick for PS3 and PC. The F-1000 is fantastic; it’s not a particularly huge peripheral (12″ x 9″ x 2.5″) but it has a nice sense of weight and heft to it. You’ll never mistake this for some cheaply made third party controller, the likes of which have plagued the gaming market for years. It is built with a metal base and hard plastic body. 6 anti-skid rubber pads line the bottom of the stick, keeping the entire unit secure when you’re bashing about. If you don’t happen to have anything to rest the stick on while gaming, the F-1000 works fine on the lap as well, but expect a certain degree of movement and instability. I don’t typically suggest using bulky gaming peripherals on your lap (racing wheels, especially), and the F-1000 is no exception.
Perhaps the best thing about the F-1000 is the fact that it comes with a loooong cable (3M), made even longer with a 1M extension. And here is where I must tell you all a story:
Once upon a time, I had a PS2. I also have fat cats. One time, one of my fat cats got spooked by something and ran across the living room, where I had my PS2 controller stretched across the room. I no longer had a PS2. It took nearly 10 years for me to get another PS2.
Extra long USB cables with the same fat cats, 2 dogs, and 2 kids is very, VERY good thing, and I’m glad that Genius was a genius (see what I did there?) and packaged the F-1000 with a nice, long cable. I can now snake the cable out of the reach of animals and grabby toddler hands. Excellent.
As far as buttons go, there are plenty; 13 in total, 15 if you want to count the Start and Select buttons. Each “main” button is mapped nicely to the PS3’s X, Square, Triangle, Circle, L1, R1, L2, and R2 buttons. Along the top there are buttons for L3, R3, the PS button, Mode select, and Turbo. Pretty much the entirety of the Dualshock 3 is replicated here; the only thing that’s missing is Sixaxis support, which obviously it doesn’t have.
This leads to the main joystick itself…which I hate. Unfortunately, this is probably the most important part of a fighting stick since this is where all the moves will be performed. Instead of a stick that rotates in a smooth 360 motion, the F-1000 has instead opted to go with an octagonal base for the stick, meaning as you swirl the stick around in a circle, it’ll hit “notches” where you can essentially trace out an octagon, instead of a full seamless circle. In fact, the F-1000 is advertised as a “4-axis” joypad. If you look at the stick, you’ll see bolded indicators for Up, Down, Left, and Right, with secondary indicators for the diagonal directions.
Having the “notched” feel isn’t that big of a deal with a game like Mortal Kombat or Injustice. These games rely less on moves like “semi-circle towards” and instead use a lot more directional taps (down, forward or back, forward). That actually works quite well with the F-1000, since the notches keep things nice and accurate.
Move to a game like Street Fighter IV or Persona 4 Arena, however, and you start having problems. It’s not easy to do semi-circles or half-circles. You’re working against the notches, and it’s really hard to tell whether or not you’re even doing the right move. Instead of a smooth “swoosh” when doing a quarter-circle forward, for instance, you’re instead met with a “clack, clack, clack” while performing that move. Perhaps this video can explain it a bit better:
Another very confusing aspect about the controller comes from the official description on the website. It says the stick can be used for most “competitive action and shooting games.” It even goes on to list Call of Duty: Modern Warfare as one of the games that it’s compatible with. I think I speak for everyone when I say, “Huh?” How in the world is this going to work with a FPS? Or an action game? Or really, any other game than a fighting game? I can see it working with 2d platformers, and that’s pretty much it. Most confusing.
When it comes down to it, though, the F-1000 is a decent stick. Weird, octagonal joystick aside, it’s nice to have a fighting stick handy for my fighting games. What’s really nice about the F-1000 is the price; you can find on Amazon for $59.99. Considering the Mad Catz Street Fighter X Tekken stick runs for $99.99, the F-1000 is quite a bargain and I would argue it has just as good a build quality.
Just do me a favor; don’t use it with Killzone, ok?