FRAGnStein PS3 Mouse Controller – Review
Marketed as bringing PC style control to the PS3, the Bannco Corp is attempting to provide PS3 gamers with an alternative to the Sony first party Dual Shock 3/Sixaxis controllers. While this sounds like a great idea on paper, the overall performance of the product ultimately suffers with inconsistent control issues and a painful amount of time to set up that cannot justify the $80 price tag.
So what exactly is the FRAGnStein controller? Although the history of the unit is not fully known with great detail, the controller was originally called the MoBi mLani controller and was supposed to be released last May. With numerous delays and even a switch of developers, the MoBi made controller has now been finalized into the FRAGnStein. Using a mouse and nunchuk design, this totally wireless controller is designed to replace your right analog stick with a mouse.
The nunchuk is used with your left hand and is basically the left half of a normal PS3 controller. Sporting one thumbstick, the d-pad, and both the L1 and L2 buttons, this part of the controllers feels very similar to the Wii’s nunchuk. But instead of using an IR port to point at things on screen, the nunchuk supports Sixaxis motion control.
The mouse will be used in your right hand, functioning as the right half of the PS3 controller. Moving the mouse in all directions functions like your right analog stick. Where your thumb rests are the Square, Triangle, Circle, and X face buttons, along with a Function button, and a scroll wheel (R3).
The third part of this controller is the USB dongle. Plugging it into any available USB slot on the PS3 will allow the controller to be sync’ed up with your system.
The FRAGnStein has all the buttons and functionality as your first party Sony controller. Unfortunately, the performance of the FRAGnStein is an extreme disappointment.
First, let’s start with the hardware. While the mouse is lightweight and is comfortable to hold, the face buttons feel very cheap. The face buttons on the mouse feel as though they can come loose at any second thanks to their hollow design. Making matters worse, the player must fully depress each button for the controller to register. Unlike the pressure sensitive buttons on the Sony controller, where a small and simple tap is enough for the game to register the controller’s input, the FRAGnStein’s buttons must be depressed so far it makes a tap technique practically impossible. This made playing simple games, like Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds, much more difficult than it needs to be as it is very difficult to perform the standard 3-button tap to swing your club. Because each face button has to be firmly pressed instead of using a light tap, it drastically reduces response time and accuracy. And thanks to the cheap design, each button also moves from side to side within its casing, making it feel like you are going to rip out each button by accident. It is as if the buttons are too small for their housing.
The face buttons themselves also feel like they are not in the correct position. Since the Playstation was released many years ago, the X button has always been the lowest button on the controller, sandwiched between Square and Circle and below Triangle. So my question is, why isn’t this format, which gamers have grown accustomed to over the years, suddenly changed with the FRAGnStein? The learning curve for this product takes time not only to get used to the mouse and nunchuk controllers, but you also have to unlearn, then relearn the face button layout. Why is the Circle button on top instead of Triangle? Why is the square button where the X button should be? It is confusing and doesn’t make sense. Like a freshmen in typing class, I was constantly looking down at my hands to see which button I needed to press.
Next, the mouse’s scroll wheel could have benefitted from a redesign. During gameplay, the wheel can act like a quick turn by scrolling it in all four major directions and also acts as the R3 button when depressed. Unfortunately, clicking the wheel left and right is rather difficult because of the wheel’s low profile. You basically have to scoop your finger into the small indentation to have enough access in order to flick the wheel left and right. This, of course, lengthens the response time.
For all you lazy gamers out there, you will be upset to learn that the FRAGnStein cannot turn on your PS3. This means that you will have to manually turn on your system from the console or use an additional SIXAXIS controller to remotely turn the unit on. Secondly, both the nunchuk and mouse each require the use of AA batteries; not having a built-in rechargeable battery further makes the $80 price point quite hard to swallow. Even stranger, the boxart of the product says that 2 AA batteries are included in the box, but there were no batteries in the unit that was sent to me. This could be because it was an earlier review unit, but it was upsetting nonetheless.
The hardware itself has some flaws, but the performance of the controller is even worse. After the nunchuk and mouse have been synced up to your PS3 via the USB dongle, you are ready to use it like a standard controller. More inconsistent than a Chicago Bear’s quarterback, the FRAGnStein requires the utmost dedication to get the controller to work. Because each game controls differently, the user will need to adjust both the in-game sensitivity settings and the built-in hardware based sensitivity settings for each and every game that is played. For example, I probably tinkered with the settings in Killzone 2 for over 20 minutes before I achieved somewhat desirable results. And I use the word “somewhat” because I never fully found the ideal settings as the mouse never turns as fast and as stable as I wanted. The same goes for Uncharted 2, Wolfenstein, and Resistance. In order to get each game to be playable, you have to f*** with your settings until you find desirable results. Normally when you play a game, the developers have chosen the ideal controller configuration by default, with only minimal, if any, changes to be made. This means that gamers can just jump in and start having fun. But this ease of use is completely thrown out the window with the FRAGnStein and made me crave my PS3 controller.
When playing a FPS, like Killzone 2 for example, the gun control was not only inaccurate, but also inconsistent. Either being too loose or not loose enough, the controller would also stutter and it even lost connection to the PS3 on occasion. And let me tell you, there is nothing worse than having the system lose connection to your controller in a heated firefight, leaving you to be pwn’d like a n00b.
Attempting to make things easier on myself, I tried to install the latest firmware update to the USB dongle. Located for free on the Bannco website, the user has to use a PC to update the controller’s firmware. As if f***ing with your settings for 30 minutes each game isn’t enough, the user has to spend even more time to tediously update the firmware of the dongle each time a new version is released. However, even after watching the YouTube videos on how to update your firmware of the FRAGnStein dongle, I still could not get my PC to update the controller’s firmware. XP or Mac users are out of luck as the videos only describe how to update firmware using Vista. But being the experienced computer nerd that I am, I still could not get my computer to update the firmware of the FRAGnStein. That is 45 minutes I will never get back. And why can’t I update my firmware through my PS3? Why continue to make it more difficult for the user? It’s so frustrating.
It is true that the FRAGnStein is compatible with all PS3 games, best used with First Person Shooters, but there are some games that just won’t work right. Games like Katamari Forever and RPG’s play much better with a Dual Shock. Menu selection, and games where the mouse needs to be in constant movement in a single direction are best left to the Sony made controller. It also needs to be noted that there is no rumble functionality with the FRAGnStein whatsoever.
The controller itself might look cool and sounds like a great way to get the edge in competitive multiplayer, but it really is a difficult piece of hardware to work with. Screwing with the settings on the hardware, messing around with the settings in game, downloading and installing new drivers…who wants to do this every time you want to play a game? This controller will only be used by the hardest of hardcore and dedicated FPS fans who want to try a new way to play their favorite PS3 games.
Is the FRAGnStein worth the $80 purchasing price? Absolutely not. Would this controller be worth a $10 price point? Absolutely not. When you spend more time trying to get the unit to work instead of actually using it is usually the first indicator of a broken product. Instead of laying down $80 for a super tedious controller, I would rather spend $10 on an alternative that is easy to use but can help improve your game. There is a reason why the Sony controller has only gone through minor changes over the last decade – it works.
– Looks cool
– Something different than Sony’s First Party monopoly
– Best used with FPS games
– Can also be used with a PC, but PC gamers probably already have a high end laser mouse and keyboard anyway
– Constantly have to play around with both in-game and hardware based sensitivity settings
– Face buttons feel very cheap
– Face buttons are positioned in unfamiliar way
– Cannot turn on system with FRAGnStein
– No rechargeable battery, must use AA’s
– Difficult to update firmware – must use a PC
– No rumble support
– Hefty price tag
– Can be rather difficult to use with some games
Not As Good As: the Sony Dual Shock
Also Try: burning your hard earned cash or flushing it down the toilet
Wait For It: the SpitFish
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