I’ve been going through a little bit of a fighting game renaissance lately, especially playing them on the PC with the release of Mortal Kombat 11 and diving into some Street Fighter V on the PS4. I cut my teeth on the 90s arcade scene playing a lot of Street Fighter, Samurai Showdown, Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct. However as time went on I faded away from that and dug more and more into PC gaming… eventually joining the cult of gamers tied to our MMORPGs. In that time fighting games have evolved and changed, and while I no longer have the reflexes that I once did I have wanted to regain a little bit of my youth. One thing that I noticed while playing these fighting games on my Xbox One controller that I use with my PC… is that my hand would get really tired really fast after trying to do the combos. This lead me down the path of looking into getting a proper fight stick.
For the uninitiated… fight sticks vary wildly in price and quality and it is entirely possible to drop $500 on a custom made stick with the best arcade components. After a bit of research I started to notice that many of the custom builds I was seeing centered around using a Mayflash fight stick as a base and then adding additional components to it. Mayflash is a chinese made budget fight stick that accepts universal arcade components and ships with its own Sanwa-knock-off buttons and joystick that I figured would serve fine for my purposes… but give me the ability to upgrade later if I saw fit to do so. Ultimately there are two models available… the F300 which seems to be more compact and probably ideal for smaller hands… and then the F500 which I ended up getting which has a more spread out design ideal for my stupidly large hands.
The best part about these is the fact that they are wired to support pretty much every console I would ever want to play on. Officially it supports… PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Android, Switch and the NeoGeo Mini. There are probably some others that it actually works fine on as well. The support for PS4 is a little janky because it requires you to connect an official PS4 controller to the fight stick that then uses it for pass through authentication with the machine. All told however it has been amazingly simple to get it up and running with the platforms I have tried it on. The F300 tends to go for around $60 on Amazon and the F500 for around $80… however I managed to find an Ebay Buy It Now F500 listing with free shipping for only $55 so your mileage may vary. The weird thing about that… is it shipped from Amazon so I am guessing it came from Mayflash directly that was running some sort of an Ebay Special that I legitimately got the last listed copy of.
One of the nice things about this particular stick is the fact that it came with both a Square Gate and an Octagonal Gate. I’ve swiped the above image of two Sanwa gates from the Shoryuken forums to use as a reference… because I am not sure it will make sense entirely without seeing them. Essentially joysticks that came from the west and those that came from Japan evolved differently during the arcade boom. While our 8 way joysticks got a distinct 8 point restrictor plate with a tactile divot for the shaft of the stick to bump into denoting which direction it was currently facing… the Japanese sticks simply took what was previously a 4 way diamond shaped restrictor and rotated it to create what would eventually serve as their 8 way square restrictor. Almost all of the mass produced Fight Sticks on the market come with a square gate, as the hotbed of fight stick production is still Japan. However these feel really awkward for those of us who grew up with the octagonal gate design and the very first thing I did to my stick was pop open the back and change these out.
After having done that… and seeing how easy it was to swap parts out… it has made me daydreaming on Focus Attack about other modifications I could make to tweak it… and then being sad at how much additional cash it would ultimately wind up adding to the price of the stick. This is how you take a $55 stick and turn it into something closer to $200 if you are not careful. There is however one mod that I do plan on making soon. One of the features that Focus Attack has is the ability to download a template for any of the common fight sticks and have them print a high quality laser cut artwork overlay to place under the clear Plexiglas cover that most of these sticks have. So I took all of the awesome Ammo artwork that I have in the masthead of this blog and arranged them around the template. Now the question is… do I order this or do I go ahead and swap the buttons and joystick while I am having to crack open and pull it apart anyway. I feel like I have traveled down a very slippery path.