Our very own ZombieGroucho is back with another one of his famous Hardware reviews for MaxconsoleThe first thing you'll notice about the F500 is the weight. If you were expecting cheap plastic parts you're in for a surprise. This fightstick sports a sharp black metal finish with a sturdy joystick and red buttons. The buttons are clearly labeled, including icons for both PlayStation and Xbox configurations. This especially comes in handy when mapping the controller in various emulators. The graphic cut out gives the top plate a nice "cracked" look. Underneath you'll find some nice rubber feet to keep the F500 from sliding during heavy play sessions.
At first glance, you might think the F500 fightstick from China's Mayflash is a "knockoff" of a "real" fightstick. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The stock parts are certainly good enough for most people but, if you're a hardcore fighting game enthusiast, the F500 supports Sanwa Denshi parts so you can easily replace the joystick and buttons to your heart's content.
Mayflash advertises the F500 as being compatible with the PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC and Android. The controller can easily switch between XINPUT and Direct modes via a top switch. You're most likely going to be leaving this in the XINPUT mode but the inclusion of Direct Input certainly makes the F500 a good choice if you're looking for flexibility. There is also a switch to reverse the X/Y and DPAD.
The TURBO switch and button allow for all of the F500's function buttons to be set for Turbo. Setting them is a simple matter of holding the button you want to set and the TURBO button at the same time. The TURBO LED will flash to let you know the button has been successfully set. Repeating the process with clear the TURBO setting for that button. You can clear all TURBO buttons by quickly pressing the TURBO button twice.
The TPAD buttons is a bit of a mystery. No one seems to know what, if anything, it does but my guess is that it's somehow related to the PS4's touchpad capability. I've reached out to Mayflash and will update this review if I receive a response.
The F500 also features the ability to use a headset with PS4, Xbox One and 360 consoles. The jack is located on the front of the unit, along with a Mic Mute Button. The headset must be connected to a wired controller when using it on the Xbox 360. The controller can be plugged in to a USB port also located on the front of the controller.
There's also a Vibration Wrist Strap connector on the front panel. Mayflash sells this strap separately but it was not included with our review unit.
The biggest limitation of the F500 is that, in order for it to function on game consoles, you MUST have a wired controller connected to the fightstick's USB port. Mayflash sells what they call "Magicboots" USB dongles for each console separately. These simply plug in to the front USB slot on the F500 and then it can be connected directly to your game console via USB. Keep this in mind if you are planning to use the F500 on a PS4, Xbox One or Xbox 360. Having a wired controller connected to the fightstick every time you want to use it is stupid. It's worth paying the extra money for the required "Magicboots" dongle to avoid this.
The F500 performed extremely well with the various fighting games I tested it on. I was able to quickly set it up and play Street Fighter IV on both PC and console. My main interest is arcade and console emulation and I was able to use the F500 in RetroArch simply by setting it to XINPUT. I did have an odd issue where diagonal movement wasn't working but after wasting a lot of time troubleshooting it turned out the problem was the older MAME cores in RetroArch. Using the MAME2016 core everything performed as expected. I then spent a couple of hours playing The Simpsons arcade game and remembering my youth.
THE SECRET WORD: The Mayflash F500 shouldn't be overlooked if you're in the market for a quality fightstick. It's solid build, flexibility and ability to be upgraded make it a sleeper hit and serious contender in the arcade controller market. Just keep in mind that, if you're planning to use it with a console, the Magicboots dongle is a recommended purchase and extra expense.