Spending money uselessly. That’s what is on my mind tonight. “Why?”, you might ask. Video games I would reply. Not that I think spending money on video games is spending money uselessly; quite the opposite. Last month I bought a brand new copy of “Halo: Reach”. It was money well spent. I normally wouldn’t spend $60 bucks on a new video game. I don’t even want to spend half of that. But “Halo” games are the exception. I really like them and they’ve always been worth the money to me.

I’ve already played “Halo: Reach” all the way through on the second hardest setting and now I’m playing it on the hardest setting. For some reason that’s been my habit with “Halo” games. I don’t like to play it on the default “Not hard enough for me” level so I immediately turn up the difficulty. But I don’t want to beat it on the most difficult setting first because that would give me nothing to do after I finish the game. So second most difficult and them most difficult it is.

I don’t even know what the story-line is in the “Halo” games. They spend a lot of time and energy on the plot and, I guess, most people are interested in it but I don’t care. I like the shooting things aspect of the game. There is a good variety of real and alien weapons with which to shoot all the enemies in front of you. To me it’s all about tactics and performance. Not plot.

But it’s not “Halo” that has me thinking about spending money uselessly. It’s “Street Fighter 2” or whatever version they’re up to now. Way back in the early 90s I used to play “Street Fighter 2” on the Super Nintendo quite a lot. My friends and I would get together and mash buttons for hours. the winner keeps fighting and the loser passes the joystick to the next guy. We had fun. It was a good competitive game.

There have been other versions of “Street Fighter 2” over the years and I think I even bought one or two of them but my friends and I aren’t in our 20’s anymore and the days of three or four of us hanging out regularly to play “Street Fighter 2” are over. It’s still a fun game but with only the computer to play against it gets dull quickly. None of the old crew even have XBox360s to play over the internet with and I have no interest in playing random strangers. Yet when the new “Street Fighter 2 (Or is it 4 now?)” game went on sale for $25 I decided to buy it.

The games still sits on my shelf because I haven’t finished with “Halo: Reach” yet but that $25 isn’t even the spending money uselessly that I’m talking about. I have a couple of other friends, they were too young at the time to play “Street Fighter 2” with me, who are big fans of the latest “Street Fighter 2” version. Such fans, in fact, that they bought $125 arcade-type joysticks to play the game with. I’ve had arcade joysticks for other systems but never $125 versions.

One of the knocks against the XBox360 is that it’s analog controller is not adequate for playing fighting games like “Street Fighter 2”. It just wasn’t built for them and doesn’t do a good job with them. So a serious “Street Fighter 2” player buys a different controller. The prices for these controllers range from $40 to $400 but the $125 arcade joystick is generally considered really good. I haven’t read anyone write that a $400 joystick is any better.

So in my mind I want to buy the $125 joystick. There is your money that would be uselessly spent. It wouldn’t be uselessly spend if I actually would use the joystick but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t. I don’t care that much about “Street Fighter 2” anymore. As much as I’d love to relive my glory days playing “Street Fighter 2” with my friend that’s not going to happen. I know that. Yet still every now and again I check Ebay and Amazon to see if there is a bargain to be had on those $125 joysticks.

It’s a good thing I find it fun to research things on the internet. I’ve even found cheaper joysticks that people mod with actual arcade replacement parts to make top notch joysticks. Of course a modded-up joystick will run you nearly $100 anyway. That’s a lot of time and effort to save $25. Maybe you could save more if you really looked around.

I’ve spent many a dollar uselessly over the years. I’m generally cautious because I’ve never had a lot of money and probably have spent less money uselessly than the average person but the temptation is still there. An actual arcade type joystick is a cool thing. The big buttons click when you push them, the joystick snaps and centers itself, and it has an overall solid feel. It’s a nice object in and of itself. But I’ll get nowhere near $125 worth of use out of it.

I saw an interesting thing when I was looking at auctions of joysticks on Ebay. Most of the auctions are from stores looking to sell joysticks. Only a small percentage are from people looking to sell their used ones. That makes sense because you have to be a pretty hardcore player to drop $125 on a joystick and a hardcore player probably wouldn’t be selling his.

I saw an auction from an actual person and clicked through to read the description. He said he was selling his joystick because he realized he bought it just to have it. He wasn’t a hardcore “Street Fighter 2” player and barely used the joystick. Realizing that he put it up for sale.

I saw a little of myself in that description. Except that I’d probably never sell the joystick. It would just sit there to be pulled out and used once every blue moon. I still have my Sega Dreamcast system with a nice joystick. I got that stick for under $20 since I bought it after the Dreamcast was discontinued. About once every two years I pull it out and have a game with it. It’s a nice stick and I don’t regret getting it. But I don’t want to spend $125 to have another one sitting next to it collecting dust. It sure is cool though.