I finally gave in and got a joystick to play Soul Calibur II with. Note the cheesy “evil sword with an evil eye” art adorning the case. Luckily, my hands cover the stick when I’m playing, so I don’t have to look at it too much:

Soul Calibur II stick

Now I’m busy unlearning everything that I’ve practiced in the last two weeks as I get used to the stick and the completely different button layout. But at least I can do B+G and B+K moves now, which opens up a whole new range of possibilities in my game

The best thing about this stick (besides its relative cheapness) is that it’s mulitplatform, with a three-headed adapter that plugs into a PlayStation 2, Game Cube, or XBox. So naturally, I loaded up Virtua Fighter 4 on my PS2 for a few minutes, and was absolutely horrified. Not only have I forgotten all of Shun Di’s moves, the control differences are even more excruciating, since I spent so much time drilling the moves on the Dual Shock into my motor memory, meaning that there’s that much more junk to unlearn. No wonder I embarass myself every time I try to play VF4 in an arcade.

To top things off, I spent a couple of minutes playing Dead or Alive 3 on the XBox, just because Red Octane happened to send it to me a couple of days ago. Outside of the very nicely rendered fighting arenas (the multi-level aspect wasn’t as annoying as I thought it would be), I wasn’t particularly impressed, but I won’t claim to understand all the nuances of a fighting game in just an hour.

But anyway, this stick now means that my last excuse for being incredibly bad at fighting games is finally gone. So if you hear me complaining that I can’t pull off a simple combo because my stick doesn’t have proper Sanwa buttons or something, just whack me upside the head.