I’m not a gamer. There, I said it. I think the last time I was addicted played any game was World of Warcraft with my younger brothers in law for a few months, but had to quit cold turkey in 2004. Nowadays, with kids and less free time, we MIGHT play a few rounds of casual zombie co-op shooters. Would this odd-looking game controller pair improve my family-zombie bonding time?
The FragFX Shark from SplitFish is a wireless mouse-and-chuck controller pair that works with PS3, Mac and PC. The first question I thought of was, “why a mouse-and-chuck”? Why not just a Playstation/Xbox style controller?
• 2 AA batteries (not included)
• NEW 50h + play time
• NEW 500h + power save standby
• Mouse 1750 DPI resolution
• Play with the mouse on the PS3 as you would do on a PC
• Full PC and MAC support, either as a gamepad or mouse/keyboard control
• Fast access to special features (eg macro, rapid-fire, button swap, stick swap, etc.)
• Brand new wireless technology to 2.4 GHz
• Plug and Play
• NEW dead zone adjustment wheel
• SixAxis support
I saw a demo of the FragFX Shark at a SplitFish media event in San Francisco, where I met professional gamer Dennis “zDD” Dozier, who worked with SplitFish to refine the Shark. Mr. Dozier considers the mouse-and-chuck style of control the next evolution after the commonplace home game console controller.
I started to see why. A properly tuned mouse control would work better for precise aiming (vs an analog thumbstick) and a analog thumbstick might work better for some on a PC/Mac for movement. The FragFX Shark combines both of these characteristics in a uniquely, user-configurable manner.
The sample I received was a first-mold batch. The final retail version will include textured plastics and graphics on some parts, but otherwise, identical in function.
First, the mouse. It’s shaped like many “ergo” mice, with four “playstation” style buttons on the left. Those buttons really correspond to keyboard strokes, which you will likely re-map in your game specific settings. it’s hard to tell from these photos, but the mouse is a little large for my medium-sized hands. I use a Logitech MX518 mouse. This one is definitely bigger.
The USB dongle receiver is a little larger than your standard USB flash drive. Two LEDs on the end glow green or blue depending if the mouse or chuck is connected wirelessly. A switch toggles between keyboard vs. gamepad mode, if supported by your game software.
Now the chuck. I’ve never used one of these. It reminded me of a larger version of the Nintendo Wii chuck, but without the wire. A single AA battery powers the chuck.
If the chuck looks bewildering, well, it is to a non-gamer like me. But for you gamers out there, rejoice. By pressing the “Frag” button and SELECT, you enter the special functions that perhaps only a gamer geek can appreciate. Options include stick swap, rapid fire select (3 levels), button remapping, macros, erase single function, and the all-important factory reset.
I fired up Left for Dead 2 on my 27″ quad-core iMac and plugged in the FragFX Shark. I spent some time fine-tuning the button mappings and went to town.
There is definitely a learning curve if you’re used to a mouse-and-keyboard approach. I didn’t realize the chuck’s analog stick clicks down, which gives you yet another button. I spent most of the afternoon changing and changing key mappings again and again to get it “just right”.
One thing that was obvious for me was the mouse. It was simply too big for my hands. I turned off the mouse and used my trusty Logitech MX518 mouse in tandem with the FragFX Shark chuck. It works!
At the end of a day of whacking hordes of zombies (OK in L4D2 they’re really “infected” but you know what I mean) I learned one thing: My left hand hurt from grasping that chuck. Maybe it’s because I’m a weakling or the learning curve, but boy, the level of customization is overwhelming.
I’m too casual of a gamer to fully appreciate the power of this controller. However, if you’re a control freak and you feel yourself hampered by the limits of your current controller (gamepad or keyboard+mouse), definitely give the FragFX Shark a try. Then clear off an entire afternoon to nit picking button mappings. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Now go frag them zombies. Or Infected. Whatever.