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Just ‘Cause: A Quick Review Of My New Arcade Stick

Ok, so here’s the deal.

I spent a good two hours today working on a legit article – in fact, it’s an article the like of which has never been seen here at College Info Geek. It’s so monumentally stupendous, so grande in scope, so audacious, that you’ll literally poop a chicken when you witness its glory. However, it’s taking a while to write. Therefore, I won’t be able to post it today like I had originally planned.

Since I haven’t posted much in a while, though, I wanted to put up something. I originally thought of doing an “arrow to the knee” joke post, but I decided that I’d rather not be killed by a mob of angry nerds. Instead, I’ve chosen to do a quick review of the thing that came in the mail yesterday, for those of you who may be interested.

I got my Hori Real Arcade Pro VX SA arcade stick yesterday, and it’s a thing of beauty. It’s about 4.5 pounds, bulky as all hell, and cost $140. So why, by Odin’s beard, would I buy such a thing? Well, obviously I’m crazy. Like, “cheeseburger + blender = breakfast on the go” level of crazy. Right?

Maybe. But that’s not really the reason.

It’s a well-known fact that most geeks are also gamers. Not all, but most. I’m a geek, and as such I fit this description. Now, I’m not one of those hardcore gamers who waits in line at Gamestop for midnight releases or spends hours searching through pawn shops for the rarest Visual Boy games. In fact, I really only play two games – Dance Dance Revolution and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 – but I play the hell out of them. This controller was bought for the latter (although playing DDR on it could be interesting…)

Playing fighting games on a regular controller is all well and good, but you can’t really get good using one. If you want to be really accurate and be able to compete with people who have actual skill, you need an arcade stick. So, once I got fed up with messing up my combos and getting my ass kicked by my friends, I decided to go looking for an arcade stick. While there are a number of good ones to choose from, this model seemed to be the only one under $200 with real arcade parts. It’s also bigger than the cheaper models, which means it won’t slide around as much. Given these reasons, this is the one I decided to order.

Today’s the day it arrived, which is why I spent a good part of my day not writing and instead doing this…

Vegging out
No Shave November and Decembeard are over... but now it's MANuary

Pretty great way to start off the semester, huh? Don’t worry, I’m not blowing off too much homework…

If you’re into fighting games at all, you may be interested in using a stick like this. Before you take the plunge, let me warn you: using this thing isn’t easy. It’s a pain in the ass. I’m pretty much back to beginner level, as I had to change the control scheme and my hands aren’t used to using a big stick for movement. It’s going to take a lot of practice before I’ll be up to the level I can play at on the controller, and even longer still before I surpass it.

This learning curve, coupled with the ridiculous cost of the controller, makes my decision seem stupid. However, I don’t think it is. This is one of the only two games I focus on; because of this, I don’t buy any others. If you bought Skyrim and Modern Warfare 3 new, you’re already up to about the same cost. So, basically, focusing on two games instead of buying every one that comes out saves me money in the long run – even if the controller I need to get good costs a lot.

If you’ve read this far, I guess you’re probably interested in arcade sticks (or maybe you’re just attracted to my weird prose?). Alright, so now I guess I’ll give my first impressions on this stick. I’ve only used it for about an hour and half, but so far I really like it. The build quality seems is great; while the top casing is plastic, the buttons and stick feel solid – pretty much just like a real arcade stick.

Oddly, the directional stick has a square gate – meaning the hole through which the shaft of the stick comes through is a square. Most American sticks have an octagonal gate. However, the square gate is pretty easy to get used to, so I’m OK with it. It makes quarter-circle motions a little harder to do at first, since you can’t just “roll” the stick like you can with an octagonal gate, but I got the correct motion down quick enough.

The buttons are also a little different than you’d expect if you’ve played at an actual arcade before. The buttons on most American arcade machines are concave, meaning the center is a bit recessed from the edges. This stick’s buttons are flat – if not a bit convex – and they’re also quite a bit more sensitive than I expected. These aren’t gripes, however; after testing them out for a while, I think I actually prefer the buttons this way.

I really like the stick’s casing. The part that faces me has a slant instead of a hard edge, which is nice for resting my palms on. There’s a headphone jack on the the front side, and the back side has a nice compartment to store the USB cord when you’re not using it. I also like the fact that this stick is blank; most arcade sticks built for fighting games usually have game-specific artwork on them. Even though it really doesn’t matter much, I like my controllers to be blank. So that’s a plus.

Here’s a short video of me testing the stick in Arcade Mode:

I’m pretty excited to get good with this thing and start stomping my friends more often. Of course, they’ll probably decide to get arcade sticks of their own and then I’ll be back to square one, but I’ll relish my time on top while I have it.

I guess this post is here because A) I feel kind of lame for not finishing the big post I’m writing and B) I’m a geek who wants to talk about the things I’m interested in (even if they don’t really relate to college). In any case, maybe this post is useful to you if you’re into fighting games. If you are into fighting games, and you play on Xbox 360, you should definitely add me as a friend – my gamertag is thomasfrank09.

Well, tally-ho then!