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Member since May 2011 · 2473 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: Hori PS3 Fighting Commander
Hori's got a long history of making 6-button pads for fighting games.  Their fighting commander series stretches back more than fifteen years.  The PC Engine, SNES and Megadrive all had identical pads with colour schemes that matched their respective consoles.  They were the serious player's weapon of choice.  Enter the PS3 Fighting Commander, a six-button pad that chucks out the analogue rubbish to focus on the digital bits you need for 2D games.

[Image: http://nfgcontrols.com/grafx/Hori_PS3-Commander-1.jpg]

It has six face buttons and four shoulder buttons, all digital.  It also has the all important cross d-pad, which most other pad makers go out of their way to avoid (see: Nintendo's patent). 

[Image: http://nfgcontrols.com/grafx/Hori_PS3-Commander-3.jpg]

First impressions are surprising.  It's not a slim pad, and it feels quite chunky.  The original 16-bit Fighting Commanders seem almost two-dimensional in comparison, and the six-button benchmark pad - the Sega Saturn controller - is almost half as thick as this.  It isn't uncomfortable, but it is very smooth.

It's so smooth that it feels almost slippery.  The featureless and broadly curvy shape, finely textured surface and thickness of the pad makes the whole thing seem a bit puffy, as if it were inflated and frozen when it reached maximum size.  It's not uncomfortable, but it's weird.  You look at it and expect it to be thin, but instead it surprises you.  It's a good weight, barely.  It'd be a perfect weight if it were smaller, but since it's so large it kind of skirts the boundary of lightness.  It's rock solid and doesn't creak or flex at all.

[Image: http://nfgcontrols.com/grafx/Hori_PS3-Commander-4.jpg]

It's totally smooth and featureless underneath.  It works, but again it seems a bit off somehow.

The d-pad is punchy, it almost clicks.  It's incredibly satisfying to touch.  The buttons large and seem a bit cheap, and they're only slightly softer than the pad.  They work very well though, easily found beneath your thumb, and the whole pad feels precision-made.  It's almost disconcerting when compared to the lush, compact softness of pads like the Xbox 360 controller.  I would like to reiterate the strangeness of it all: it's big and puffy and slippery and smooth, there are no sharp or even acutely curved edges.  It's weird dammit.  It has all the hallmarks of a shitty controller by a lesser company.

And then you play a game with it, and it all disappears.  This is an invisible pad.  It's as accurate as any I've ever used, and it takes only a few moments in the heat of play to completely forget about it.  It vanishes from your mind as you get into the game, and that's what we want from a pad, isn't it?

[Image: http://nfgcontrols.com/grafx/Hori_PS3-Commander-2.jpg]

When I hold it in my hands I wish the bottom had a better grippy surface, some edge my fingers could latch on to, but there's only sweeping curves down there.  It doesn't matter when you're playing, but between rounds I keep picking it up and trying to get my head around it.  It doesn't feel right. 

But then you play, and it feels just fine.

I have my misgivings about the way it feels, but I cannot complain about the way it plays.  Throw in the cross d-pad and it's pretty good indeed.  Eight out of ten?  Sounds about right.


It's a USB pad.  Plays fine with Windows (Win7 tested) but the pad is recognized as a 'hat', not the primary input, so some emus and games don't recognize it.  Works with MAME, not with Kawaks for example.
BLEARGH
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Member since Oct 2007 · 316 posts
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Confusingly, you've started a new topic. I'll summon the will to deal with that. :)

I guess the only question about this beast is, what variety of encoder is in it? Some PS2 games won't play nice with a pad that has only a PS1 encoder. If it's got a full PS2 output that just omits the analog stick signaling, then that's fine. But then it's annoyingly not compatible with PS1 hardware.
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Member since Mar 2010 · 52 posts
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Yeah, sorry.  You guys were chatting on a gallery post, dunno why.  ;)

It's a PS3 pad, it's USB.  I dunno if it'll work on a PS2 at all, and it definitely won't work on a PS1.
Just like NFG, but x 9!
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Member since Oct 2007 · 316 posts
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Bummer. USB controllers definitely don't work on the PS2. I remember a time when game hardware manufacturers were afraid *not* to be backward compatible. You'd think there would be more of that attitude with the desire to draw out the console lifetime.
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Member since May 2011 · 2473 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Just to update this review, I've been playing a games with this pad exclusively, and I'm happy to say it's still excellent after long term use.  My thoughts on it are more or less the same, but more emphatic: it looks cheap, feels weird, but plays brilliantly.

I'm using Joy2Key for those surprisingly common games that don't support the hat inputs.

I strongly recommend this pad.  =)

[Image: http://www.nfgphoto.com/gallery/var/resizes/Mobile/PicsPlay_1337416775704.jpg?m=1338332084]
BLEARGH
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