For anyone who has been following my content, I think it’s safe to say that this article has been long in the making. Control methods have been a subject of fascination — dare I say even obsession, of mine for a long time. I’ve thought about this topic a lot, probably more than is healthy, and have spent more time and energy experimenting with and trying out different control methods than is necessary. Just to give you all a snapshot of what I’m like, my family, who have no interest in video games or anything related, are aware of how arcade sticks function, how they work, how to install them, who the manufacturers are, and how to put them together, just because of the sheer number of times they have witnessed me doing so when I visit. There are stretches of time where I am literally swapping arcade parts between 4 different sticks (7 if you count my weird experimental ones) on a daily basis. Not only do I try different combinations of stock parts, but I also modify various components to try and improve their function, sometimes it works and sometimes it does not 😉
With all that said, the first point I want to stress in this article is that, no matter how I evaluate whatever control method I am discussing, it has been demonstrated by players like Jaimers and Gus that high level play can be achieved on any control method. Whether or not is should be is a complicated issue that I’m not totally sure about. Nevertheless, when it comes to shmups, all the control methods I discuss in this article are viable.
Also, another outlook I want to express before I get into the nitty gritty of all the different control options, is that, as players, I think flexibility and competency across methods is valuable. More often than I expect, I find myself needing to play shmups with a different controller than my usual arcade stick setup. Maybe I’m on the go and can only fit a controller in my backpack, maybe I’m at a friend’s house who doesn’t own an arcade stick, maybe I’m at work or at my parents and keyboard is the only option. There are tons of different scenarios like this, so, if you are a player who exclusively uses one input method, I would encourage you to try and become competent on the three types, if you can.