From pad to stick and the fear in between, here’s my story

Growing up, I missed out on the arcade gaming scene and spent most of my gaming with home consoles so I am more accustomed with game pads over arcade sticks. But after seeing a few videos of fighting game pros going all out and almost all of them having their own arcade stick, I got curious as to how much of a difference it can be to control your movements in a video game when using an arcade stick over a game pad.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that they prefer playing fighting games or even classic arcade games such as Pac-Man and the like using an arcade stick and from my general lack of experience playing on arcade machines, I couldn’t understand where they were all coming from. I remember as a kid that one of my friends or one of their friends had an arcade stick for the original PlayStation (or at least I think it was for the PlayStation). It was a dinky little thing, a bit on the thin side and when I would try to perform a generic hadouken motion, the stick would move along with the motion since it barely had any weight to it. We didn’t have access to a table then so we’d prop the thing on our laps as we sat on the couch / chair / or while sitting on the floor. It wasn’t a very fun experience. Another memory I have playing stick was in a local arcade that had X-Men vs Street Fighter. I had it and Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter on the original PlayStation so I thought I could beat a few CPU opponents while I kill some time. I felt so awkward with the controls and found myself doing involuntary jumps during the whole thing. With those being my only arcade stick experiences, you could see why I couldn’t grasp the idea when people said they prefer stick over pad but watching a bunch of fighting game matches online and hearing them tap away at the buttons and clicking their arcade sticks, I got curious and hyped at the same time.

Last weekend, I began my search for a good but decently priced arcade stick. A MadCatz or a Hori stick is just too expensive for me and wouldn’t be practical as I was just very curious about playing on stick and didn’t know if I would even like it. I came across a few that ranged from 1200php to around 2500php and as I researched about these sticks online, I came across a few comments and threads saying that since Sony’s PS3 firmware update 3.5, they have since then blocked most 3rd party USB controllers from working on the PS3, included was the Blaze Digital Arcade Stick which I had my eye on.  This got me worried because what if the stick I got wouldn’t work on my PS3 since I was on ver 4.0 as of this post. At this point, any form of doubt was not welcome.

What I wanted in an arcade stick aside from a good price and decent quality was a good placement of the buttons and stick plus the size and weight of it. What I like about the MadCatz Tournament Edition stick is the spacing of the buttons and stick while leaving enough space for your hands to rest on along with the massive blockyness of it. It’s not the type that would move from the table or your lap even when doing double fireball motions or 360 command grabs. Me being picky was not making this very easy. Then I came across the iCore arcade stick. It looked like it had everything that I was looking for in my ideal budget line arcade stick. All that I needed to know if it was good in quality. I was worried that after a few hadoukens that the stick would break or get stuck. After searching the net, all info I could really find about it was from and they said that for a budget stick, it’s pretty good and reliable but in by no means on par with the likes of MadCatz and Hori which I don’t mind. It goes for 1200php which is pretty cheap because I was expecting to spend around 2000php+. This was a good thing but it also added doubts in my mind because a cheaper stick could mean cheaper quality. Although there was also the possibility of the shops just marking up the price in hopes to catch the ignorant buyer off guard. All that was really left for me to do was take the plunge and buy the damn thing, and so I did.

I bought one last week and though it works, the PS Home button was kinda faulty as I had to really press down on it hard before it connected. The XMB would sometimes appear during gameplay as if the PS Home button was pressed even though it wasn’t. The select button wouldn’t work either and since it is set right beside the PS Home button, I assumed that there was something wrong with the wiring. The store where I got it from, Game Xtreme, said that I could have it replaced with in 7 days if something was wrong. The stick has been replaced and from what I can tell, it works like a charm.

I’m sorry if this has been a long post but bottom line is, if you are looking for a decent budget arcade stick for your PS3 (and PC if you install motioninjoy), the iCore PS3 Arcade Stick is a very good choice.