Tag Archives: cronusmax

Ta-da!

Finally getting the Arcade Stick I deserve…

I recently undertook a minor project to acquire a new arcade stick and mod it with SANWA arcade components. This is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, but has always been held up by costs or the need for additional tools for the processes involved.

I still have 2x Dreamcast Agetec sticks that I would like to adapt, but the need to widen the holes for buttons and cut spacing for changing the PCB etc has enabled my natural tendency towards procrastination.  However, a desire to replace my current 6 button Xbox 360 stick & cronusmax combo with a new 8 button model for my PS4 sent me to Google.

My current stick next to my friend's fightpad

A little research found that this “budget” stick from venom was fairly well regarded, and even better all of the parts are compatible with standard SANWA arcade components.  As a bonus, it even has easily replaceable art. The stick itself I picked up from my local GAME, it was pretty much the same price as everywhere online, and I had a bunch of trade-in credit that made it extra cheap. The Venom PS4 arcade stick is available from Amazon here, note this is an affiliate link which will earn me commission if you purchase.

The Venom StickAs it comes...

There are various guides for this mod around, but I found this one most useful.  I used Arcade World UK for all the components, and purchased these:

Those lovely new components!

Some people also suggest getting an octagonal gate, but once I found out what they were talking about, I decided I was happy with the standard square one…

Street Fighter V was the primary motivation for getting involved in this, and I decided straight away that I would be going for a “Ken” theme.  I found this artwork online that someone else had shared to use for now. I have asked a friend to look at maybe making a new custom design for me, so hopefully I’ll be changing to something new later.  Cutting the artwork wasn’t as bad as expected, I had it printed onto A3 and with patience and a decent blade it was pretty painless:

Cutting artwork

Changing the components over and fitting the art was all straight-forward, no messing at all!

Opened, before changes Buttons popped! Fitting the art beneath the plexi Installing the new buttons

I am really pleased with the results, and very much enjoying using the controller online.  I intend to re-purpose at least the original buttons from the Venom Stick, putting them into one of the Dreamcast sticks once I get my hands on a dremel…

Ta-da!

Ten reasons I own: An Xbox One

Following my PlayStation 4 post, it’s time to balance the scales.  Keeping to the same format as previous, this is ten aspects of the Xbox One that make it worth owning to me, not just a list of exclusive games.  I have no interest in Kinect, and the initial mandatory bundling of that hardware was a big part of me writing off the Xbox One to begin with.  I always maintained I’d reconsider once they cut it from the console though, and I am glad I did.

As per my conclusion on the PlayStation 4 post, I do find it hard to recommend the Xbox One over a PS4 unless you’re REALLY big on the exclusives, but now was definitely the right time for me to add one and own both.

  1. Rare Replay
    Easily the best value and greatest presented Retro Compilation ever, this is an absolute gem and the tipping point for me to suck it up and buy the console. So many great games on here, and available brand new for less than the price of just one of the included N64 games on ebay… It is cool that the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Arcade titles retained my progress from the first time round, but I would have liked an excuse to replay Nuts & Bolts.
  2. Halo: Master Chief Collection
    A close runner up to Rare Replay in terms of value, this initially passed me by due to reports of broken multiplayer. It contains Halo games 1 – 4, and a free update added Halo ODST.  The games have received graphical work since their original releases, most notable in Halo 2.  I’m very much enjoying replaying the campaigns, and the multiplayer issues seem to be resolved.  I’ve played quite a bit online, and I really like how the multiplayer mode spans all the games, with a vote each round of which to play next.
  3. Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
    I got this bundled with my console, and although I am a fan of the series, I had played Gears of War 1, 2 and 3 through several times in co-op and didn’t think I’d bother again. It looks amazing though, and I found myself co-opping the campaign with a new buddy (shoutout to @SuperGoataku) and thanks to Microsoft providing free Backwards Compatible downloads of the original Gears of War 1, 2, 3 and Judgement, we are now half way through a Judgement campaign and setting up to play a bit of GoW 3 Horde to pass the time while we await number 4.
  4. Forza Horizon 2
    My purchase of this was largely fuelled by the difficulty issues I had been experiencing with Driveclub, documented in my PS4 post. Horizon is a much more forgiving series, but thanks to the physics and handling models perfected in Forza, it is still very satisfying to play.  The theme of a racing festival does grate a bit, but the driving makes up for it and I find it perfect for half hour sessions before work.
  5. EA Access
    As a proper casual sports gamer, the EA Access vault is something I’ve been wanting for years. I like the idea of sports games a lot more than the reality, and long ago learned that it wasn’t worth me paying £40 every year for a set of new names in FIFA.  This way I get to play the previous releases as much as I like.  It’s just a shame it isn’t available on PS4 where my Madden playing friends are.  It doesn’t hurt that I managed to snag 12 months of EA Access for £10 either.
  6. Backwards Compatibility
    After trading my Xbox 360 for a graphics card sometime back, I had come to terms with losing my digital library of games. Admittedly it is still early days to see how many of my games I’ll regain the use of, but it has already started well.  Ikaruga and R-Type Dimensions were very pleasant surprises!  I now look forward to the monthly updates as more support is added.  Extending it to all future Xbox 360 games included in the ‘Games with Gold’ is also a stroke of genius.  (Still doesn’t quite match the value I personally get from PS+ though, while owning PS3, PS4 and a Vita…)
  7. Halo & Forza Series
    Although I’ve touched upon these higher in the list, both have new entries that were factors in my buying the console. Halo V and Forza 6 are both appealing to me, and it’s a testament to the fun I’m having with the machine that I haven’t got around to buying either yet!  As it happens I think the Halo itch is being scratched by both Destiny and the Master Chief Collection.  I’ll likely grab Forza 6 when I finish Horizon 2 or Driveclub.  Halo and Forza were the big exclusives to me when I had the 360, and although I didn’t feel like I was missing much by the Forza 5 release, I am pleased they seem to have found their feet on the new generation.
  8. Killer Instinct
    I’m not much of a fan of f2p payment models, and ignored this from launch when I saw how it was being distributed. However, I came across the Season 1 pack on a disc for £5 and decided to give it a go.  It is a really good fighting game, and worth hooking up the cronusmax plus and arcade stick for.  I’m still not sold on the DLC model, but did grab season 2 over Christmas when it dropped into the sale, £8 felt like a good price and now I’m happy to have all fighters released so far.  I expect I’ll hold out for a sale on Season 3 as well once it’s out.
  9. Destiny: The Taken King
    As I touched upon in my Driveclub section on the PS4 post, Destiny’s Taken King expansion was a pretty major turning point for the game. Widely considered to have addressed many of the game’s original issues, the more I heard about it the more I really wanted to get involved.  After hearing several people mark Destiny as their GOTY for 2015 (Specifically The Taken King) I decided I’d make the leap.  Fortunately the Taken King Legendary Edition contains the original game and all DLC to date, and can be had cheaply.  The biggest problem I had was choosing which platform to get it for.  In the end I sided with the Xbox One as I seem to have a few more active Destiny players amongst my Xbox friends.  I haven’t ruled out buying another copy for the PS4 though…
  10. Windows 10
    I have mentioned before, but I maintain a decent gaming PC, and am a happy early adopter of Windows 10. The Xbox One app was really straightforward to configure for in-home streaming, and I have found it incredibly useful for when my flatmate wants the TV in the lounge and I’ve agreed to play Gears of War online…  I really like how well it works with my PC setup, a wired Xbox 360 controller and PC headset and I’m good to go.  Obviously I could just plug my Xbox One controller in, but it is nice to not have to carry that back and forth.

One negative point I thought I’d share, relates to the original design of the Xbox One controller bundled with my console.  Original versions of the pad didn’t have a mini-jack for connecting standard headsets.  My PS4 controller has one, and I spent 99p on a short cable that took the twin mini-jacks from my PC headset and let me use it on there.  There are three options if you want to do this on the original Xbox One pad:

  • A clip on adapter for £17.99 UK
  • The Chatpad mini clip on keyboard, as this also adds the port for £29.99 UK
  • A replacement / second controller as new revisions of it have the port added circa £35 UK

So far so Microsoft… I went with the Chatpad, arguably I’ll want a second controller at some point anyway, but the Chatpad is pretty nice to use and it also has buttons for saving screenshots and videoclips, much less intrusive than the standard ‘double press the home button’ technique or indeed the delights of hearing cries of “Xbox record that!” from my Nephew over live…

Whatever happened to cross-platform peripherals?

It always used to be fairly common to take your games to your friend’s house to play on their console, providing you all had the same machine (and you weren’t that one kid who went Nintendo, bleurgh).  To a lesser extent this still happens now, although more often I find it just involves signing into your digital account to download your games straight onto their console.

What used to also be fairly common though, was owning joysticks and other controllers that were multi-format.  As far as I can remember, my first experience of this was owning the superb Quickshot Maverick.  Possibly the origin of my arcade stick love, I got this for my SEGA Master System and hammered R-Type, Fantasy Zone and Transbot(!) with it.  Well I say hammered, but I was young and probably shite/even worse than I am now.  The multi-format capability was a real bonus, I frequently took it to my friend’s house for C64 gaming, it was a joy for Sheep in Space, Arnie, Slicks and Silkworm, and later it became controller of choice for my next door neighbour’s Amiga and hours of Sensible Soccer.

Quickshot Maverick 1

In the Saturn era (my Golden Age of gaming) this phenomenon would help me out again.  I owned the delightful looking (!) Madcatz Fazor lightgun, compatible with both the Saturn and PSX.  As well as benefiting my ownership of each machine in turn, it also regularly travels to friend’s houses for ‘player 2’ experiences on Virtua Cop and Die Hard Trilogy etc.  Sadly it wasn’t ‘Guncon’ compatible, but later multi-platform lightguns were released that did support it.

Madcatz Fazor

At this time I also had the VRF1 Steering Wheel.  Again it was pretty funky looking, not entirely dissimilar from the official Saturn one.  This also worked on both Saturn and PSX, but also added N64 support into the mix.  This device and I spent hours on Sega Rally, Wipeout 2097, Ridge Racer and Porsche Challenge.  I remember devices of this kind being fairly common, although obviously varying wildly in quality, as has always been the nature of third party accessories.

Madcatz VRF1

Fast forward to present day, and things get a bit different.  As discussed in my previous post, I embraced multi-format gaming in a big way once I was old enough to finance/justify to myself owning a range of machines.  However the perils of being an adult also involve balancing budgets and apartment space.  I find it impossible to justify buying controllers such as steering wheels, when they’ll only work on one platform and I want to play racing games on three or more.  They are simply too expensive and take up too much space to get involved with owning multiple devices.

I did buy myself a HORI arcade stick for my 360 since it at least also worked on PC.  This worked out well for my love affair with Street Fighter 4, and the vast array of shmups I played on both 360 and PC.  Unfortunately this meant I was less inclined to enjoy fighters and (non-twinstick) shmups on my PS3 where I only had the standard pads.  Periodically I looked into either modding my existing stick or purchasing a custom one, utilising a multi-pcb like the MC Cthulhu board, but costs (and effort) kept putting me off.

Hori Fighting Stick EX2 – 360

Enter the CronusMax Plus.  I stumbled across this little gem on a friends FaceBook post, and it presented the ideal solution to my modern first world problem.  My existing Hori stick had exclusively been used with my PC since I traded in my 360, but after handing over my £45 for the cronus, I found I could now also use it on my PS3 (hello Gradius V and Tekken Tag 2), Xbox One (Killer Instinct!) and, with a little effort involving a ‘pass-thru’ setup with the PC in my lounge, also on PS4 (Jamestown+ and Injustice already getting play, and setting me up nicely for Street Fighter V).  I understand the device will do some other fancy stuff too, but just for this purpose it has already paid for itself.  A couple of weeks after my purchase a firmware update resolved the need for a pass-thru on PS4, and now even that is straight-forward.  I understand there are similar devices available, but so far as I’m aware it is the only one so far to resolve the PS4 issue properly, and thus the one I’d recommend.

CronusMax Plus

I’m excited by the possibility now that if I want to upgrade my arcade stick I can stay cross-platform easily and still have a broad selection to choose from.  I may even investigate a steering wheel setup, or maybe get one of those Xbox One Elite Controllers.  £120 seems marginally more reasonable when I’d be able to use it on PS4 as well as Xbox One and PC. I could even use the PC ‘pass-thru’ arrangement to use Keyboard & Mouse on console FPS games, although I think that might be a step too far…

Part of me does wish they’d just standardise controllers, but at least there is an affordable workaround, and the open nature of the device for ‘tweaking’ does appeal.  Now I just have to deal with my other modern, multi-platform gamer problem.  How do I decide which group of friends I want to play online with?  I’m looking at you Destiny, if only there were shared servers for that…