Thursday, January 9, 2014


The title refers to the tools used to partake in two of my favorite hobbies: "sticks" = fightstick = joystick, used to play fighting games (one of my favorite types of video game, much to my wife's chagrin,) and dice, the polyhedrons rolled to resolve random effects in miniature wargames.

This post will briefly talk about the first half of that pairing. Or, more specifically, an adapter.

Backing up a step: the "next gen" jump for video game consoles is always equal parts exciting and suck. It's exciting because you're promised a slew of new games that would have been impossible on the current machines, and although some developers are invariably blowing smoke there are usually enough legit next gen games that it's worth getting excited over.

The part that always sucks is that it fractures your gaming collection, sometimes severely. This particular generation jump has been pretty harsh because the two "big" next generation consoles (Playstation 4 and Xbox One) have totally cut ties with the previous generation: the new consoles will not play any PS3 or Xbox 360 games, and for the most part any peripherals you own won't transition to the next generation consoles. Xbox One will not allow you to use any 360 peripherals, and while the PS4 seems to be a little better (based on this list from the Playstation Community Forums,) it's still not encouraging, especially in the context of what I'm leading up to.

For the average gamer, the most frustrating part of this news is that their game libraries are now fractured: instead of having a "one stop shop" for your gaming, you're now going to have at minimum two consoles to play the games you have (previous gen and the new now-current gen.) However, even then it probably isn't that big of a deal: I think your average gamer doesn't so much collect games as they experience them, so making the jump and cutting ties with the previous generation isn't that big of a deal (only nerds like me get worried over something like that.)

The part that is more of a practical frustration is that peripherals won't be making the jump. More specifically, that most fightsticks - joysticks used to play fighting games - aren't usable on the next generation of gaming consoles. As above, PS4 is a little better in this regard, with the word on USB based devices being that they are "Not compatible, however publisher may decide to enable them on a title-by-title basis" (taken from post linked above,) though practically we don't know how this will be followed up on. Xbox1 is having none of that: no 360 fightsticks work on the new system.

This leaves a lot of current generation (PS3 and 360) gamers with a sticky wicket of a situation. Their current fightsticks will not work on the next generation (or at least in the case of PS4, aren't guaranteed to work,) and upgrading to a next gen fightstick is expensive: the Mad Catz TE2 Killer Instinct fightstick (linked to Amazon, but you can get this from is the only option for Xbox1 owners, and it costs a gentlemanly $200. That's assuming you can find one; they're sold out in most retailers, so it's kind of a wild goose chase to track one down.

Like some others, I was willing to chief up and buy a new stick for the Xbox One, but the low stock levels combined with the reality of just how much it costs (it's almost half as much as the console!) soured me to the prospect. It was about that time that several video game news outlets started breaking stories about the CronusMAX controller adapter and how it had been recently updated to allow players to use a variety of controllers (including 360 controllers) on the Xbox One.

Shortly after those stories were published, the CronusMAX sold out in most places you could buy it, so I was left with some time to contemplate buying one before I could act on it.

I was initially reticent to buy one. Digging around the internet, I didn't hear great things about the previous Cronus product (I believe it was called the Cronus Cross Over, or something like that,) it's not a terribly cheap adapter ($60 at most retailers which is at least cheaper than a $200 fightstick,) and because it's a 3rd party product there's no guarantee that it won't run into issues with a future system update.

But for Christmas I received a $50 Amazon gift card, and not too long after that I managed to find a retailer selling the CronusMAX through Amazon, so I thought "what the hell" and took the plunge.

This is already long enough, so I'll cut to the quick review (which, upon review of the review, is still quite long): it works, and it works well.

The CronusMAX has an "auto" setting that is supposed to work out of the box for PS3 and 360, and at least in my case, it sure as hell did: I took the CronusMAX out of the package, plugged my 360 stick (Mad Catz TE stick) into it, and then plugged it into the PS3 and it worked right away.

The Xbox One set up took some more time: firmware update, and you need to manually set it to "Xbox1" mode, which I think will make switching between Xbox One and PS3 a little bit of a pain until they update the software again. My initial test with Killer Instinct was a little off - the RT and LB buttons didn't work - but everything ran fine after I reconnected the Xbox One controller, did a button check, and reconnected the fightstick.

The matches I played with Killer Instinct using the device felt great, with no noticeable lag and no dropped inputs. That was one of my biggest concerns about buying the product, so I was very happy to have everything run so smoothly.

As someone who owns two different systems I want to play fighting games on (and I'll likely be getting a third eventually with the PS4, which the developers are working on,) I really like that I have a way to use my fightstick across all of those platforms. It's a huge relief on my wallet, and while the Xbox One controller is good, it's so much nicer to be able to play with the stick I've gotten used to over the past year or so.

A few caveats: as mentioned, it's a 3rd party device. So there's a real possibility that a console update could kill this adapter. I don't know how likely this is, and I would like to believe that the developers of the product would respond by finding new ways to make it work again, but its worth bearing in mind. 

Similarly, because it's "mod" hardware, you're not likely to see a lot of support for it at events. So if you're a competitive player, you'll need to chief up and buy new sticks, but I think that if you play competitively you knew that was coming.

Overall, I'm very satisfied with the CronusMAX adapter. I'm kind of the perfect demo for it, really: I have multiple consoles I want to play fighting games on, and while I'm decently competitive I'm not going to travel to events. I ended up buying it for really cheap thanks to the gift card, but I'd happily buy it at full price.

As I continue to play using it, I'll post any updated impressions I have.

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