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Is Keyboard an Advantage?

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Some of the best players in the world use a Gens original gamepad.  ( @angryjay93, @IceStorm70, @kingraph spring to mind.) But some real talent in the past used keyboards, too. ( Plabax, FPB, Depch, and many others.)  I use a gamepad, but I definitely felt I could tell when someone was using a keyboard on the other side.  They seemed to be able to make subtle movements better, and especially were good at doing a dead stop, something not easy to do (for me at least) with a gamepad.  

So I think a keyboard is an advantage, though I believe for most it is a hard fought one;  I know firsthand it has a hell of a learning curve.  When I first tried GENs, I didn't have a controller, and tried using the keyboard.  It was hard as hell, and I actually gave up trying to learn, and waited for my controller to arrive in the mail while GENs was left collecting dust.  But, I do think, if you can master it,  it can be an advantage.  A gamepad has a lot of "wiggle room", in a bad way.  I feel like a keyboard is more exact.  Especially for straight up, down, left and right.  I don't think this exactness can be disputed. (But if it can, please let me know.)  Whether all-in-all it is an advantage, that can be disputed, which is the purpose of this thread.  There is probably something a gamepad is better at.

Bottom line: Do you think using a keyboard is an advantage in online play?

PS: I think angryjay went from keyboard to GENs gamepad, so I hope he chimes in.  You can see what controllers people use in this thread:


Edited by aqualizard

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There are several versions of gamepads.  Having tried almost ALL of them, I can tell you my skating/game play has varied greatly depending on which one I was using.  This variance shows there exist advantages/disadvantages to WHATEVER you are using to play NHL94.  So, I will rate out the joysticks I've used and then keyboard.

Overall, Gens joysticks come with a loose D-pad and low, easy to use buttons.  This makes sliding your thumb back and forth between A/B/C extremely easy.  My C/B checking and one timers, especially in tight, are MUCH better when I use a Gens Pad because I can get to the button combos fast/easy.  My ability to stop on a dime, make certain cuts seem to suffer using a Gens joystick, but I am still able to make some cuts and never feel my angle of passing or rare pass shot I try is "wild" or too difficult to aim, despite the looser Dpad control.  While the buttons are "low" (not raised very high on the joystick level), they are also not the most responsive, so I find more "button mashing" on my end when using these.
I'd rate the D-pad part of it as "middle", and the buttons as "low & loose".

X1 or any similar analog Joystick
Skating is dreamy with an analog stick.  You almost feel like you are skating in real life, sliding all over the ice, smooth and a lack of pressure that you no longer feel on your formerly aching thumb is amazing.  Fluid is how I suddenly describe my game.  The buttons are superior to anything on other joystick and might even rival keyboard usage.  They are low, but close together and with the modern technology pumped into them, is so easily responsive, you can roll your B/C one timer while not even thinking about it.  IF you only played vs other ANALOG joystick users, you'd probably enjoy NHL94 even more.   BUT alas, eventually you come across a keyboard user or someone with a really tight D-pad that can stop on dimes and make cuts that the analog joystick just can't keep up with, as a result, your defense performs too low to offset the advantages. 
I'd rate the D-pad (analog stick) as "loose", and the buttons as "low & tight"

SNES generic D-pad, Ibuffalo knockoffs
The D-pad comes in the separated directional arrows, and this results in skating the equivalent of keyboard buttons.  Up is up, Down is down, left is left & right is right, except its set in perfect spacing and on the left side where your gaming thumb can slide over and control all skating flawlessly.  To me, this D-pad setup might even be superior to keyboarders.  HOWEVER, a major flaw comes into play on ALL versions, and I've bought them ALL just about.   Either the buttons are set in extremely annoying locations, or they are considerably RAISED way HIGHER than any other joystick out there.  Additionally, the A/B/C buttons tend to be less responsive on most brands, so 2 things result.  One, you can no longer easily do a C/B check or a B/C roll one timer, both now require actually effort on actions that need to be effortless to be effective in a fast paced action game.  Two, you end up mashing your buttons way too often, and that tends to wear them out faster.  The raised button really does make a surprising impact on your one timer game.
I'd rate the D-pad as "tight" and the buttons as "HIGH & loose".

Setting up with two sets of fingers, instead of one thumb and another set of fingers is polar opposite of what I've done for the past 20 years of video gaming.  I have prior experience playing with keyboard, so I am not foreign to doing it, but it's LONG, LONG AGO.  I find I'm trying to constantly re-map my instincts and hit the wrong buttons constantly.  Similar to the RAISED button problem, in a fast paced, action game, THINKING about what you are trying to hit as a command does not lead to effective video game playing.  The directional skating is of course flawless, but skating is definitely less smooth as I need to work much harder to get my players to slide to the left or right.  However, the majority of the games most successful skating combos require much more of the stop, crease cut straight left, skate straight backwards, passing shots at exact angles, etc, so I feel keyboard's tight but wonky skating oddly almost works a little better in this game than smooth skating would in say a modern hockey game.  I could not imagine trying to keyboard play say Madden 2019.  The BUTTONs for A/B/C are now controlled by multiple fingers, and can have instant response of A/B/C in any combo, not requiring a thumb to slide back and forth or "roll" (when I actually HIT the correct button),  is superior to anything a joystick can offer. 
I'd rate the D-pad as "tight but limited" and the buttons as "flawless".

SO, to summarize, for those that read my analysis, IF you could give me a D-pad with X1 buttons, I think I'd have the advantage OVER keyboard.  Otherwise, I feel keyboard (when mastered at the same level we've mastered our joystick usage over the years), is greater than most controllers. 


**While there is a D-pad on my X1 joystick, I CANNOT get it to work in conjunction with the buttons, as when I map the D-pad instead of the analog sticks, for some reason, you can no longer skate on angles.   Perhaps, one day/night, we could spend time trying to go through this and see if we could solve the mystery!


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