MadCatz Street Fighter X Tekken Fightstick Pro Review
Is this the ultimate fighting stick?
I’ve been gaming with my regular PS3 controller for as long as I can remember. It generally fits the bill for almost all my games (with the exception of my racing wheel tucked neatly behind my couch) so I’ve always had no problems comfortably playing whatever game came my way. But when it comes to fighting games, there are two sides to this coin. On one team are the players who can comfortably smack the living daylights out of you with a traditional controller. On the other team are players who live by their arcade sticks – massive controllers that are built to emulate the controllers found on the arcade cabinets of years gone by. I remember playing Street Fighter and other games in the arcades with that huge joystick and buttons and thought that this kind of controller layout would forever be enjoyed only in arcades.
Well the crazy minds over at Mad Catz are out to prove me otherwise, and sent over their latest toy, the Street Fighter X Tekken Tournament Edition Fightstick Pro for the PS3. Yes, that’s one heck of a name to go with one heck of a product. Even the box itself intimidated me, decorated intricately with artwork from both franchises. I gingerly open the box and the glorious fight stick peers back at me through the plastic window. I unpack it and the first thing I notice is that there’s no cable to be seen. A wireless model? Not really – there’s a nifty compartment at the back that lets you stow away the 4metre USB cable that is attached to the controller. That’s a fair amount of cabling, so it should suit most game setups. You’ll also find the Start and Select buttons nestled close to this compartment, which is a bit of an awkward placement if you ask me.
The Fightstick Pro has two different artworks on the faceplate – one is a ‘crossover’ design featuring Ryu and Ken battling Tekken characters, and the other design just features portraits of various characters from both franchises. The finishing on the artwork is excellent and very smooth, making it very easy to wipe away any blood, sweat, or tears that you may suffer during your matches. The unit itself has Mad Catz’s signature build quality, and while the unit may look quite large and heavy, it’s actually quite comfortable to place on your lap or on a table. If you do place it on a table, the rubber feet at the bottom and the slightly weighted base will help keep it in position as you pummel away to glory. The rest of the unit is a nice matte black color with a ridged design on the side to make the controller
There are a few key features that set this Fightstick from previous ones. This model features a large authentic Japanese-style Sanwa Denshi joystick, which is very comfortable to use and instantly reminded me of my arcade gaming days. While at first I thought the joystick was quite loose and in danger of breaking off, I found that this was not the case, and in fact the joystick was designed that way to allow players to smoothly execute their moves. The eight arcade buttons are large and spaced out just far enough from the joystick and are equally as responsive. Though I have to mention that both joystick and buttons were just a tad too sensitive for my liking – I often found myself accidentally switching through menu options at times, but I’m guessing that this extra sensitivity really makes sense when gaming.
On the top right of the Fightstick Pro is a control module with some rather neat features. There’s a ‘lock’ button which when activated prevents you from accidentally hitting the PS Home button on the device. There’s also a switch that toggles the joystick from emulating a left or right analogue stick, or the D-pad. Included in this model is a ‘Turbo’ button, which lets you assign a turbo function to any of the eight arcade buttons. This is useful for games such as Marvel vs Capcom where button mashing can quickly turn a match around, which isn’t always the case when playing Street Fighter vs Tekken. The Turbo mode was easy to activate and deactivate on the fly, and actually made the battles and combos a little bit easier to pull off.
The one suggestion I might have about the Fightstick is the placement of the eight buttons – they’re spaced out in more of a ‘fan’ position to emulate arcades, but I found that after a while of button mashing my fingers were getting a bit sore from being stretched out across all the buttons. I think it might have been an improvement if the buttons were at a more natural hand placement, but this may also be due to the fact that I don’t play with arcade sticks very often. In fact a friend of mine who tried out the stick had no problems at all, so I’m guessing it really is just a matter of preference.
The Street Fighter X Tekken Tournament Edition Fightstick Pro (phew!) is an awesome piece of gaming hardware that no real fighting fan should do without. If you think that you’re an ace with Street Fighter, try you hand at fighting with this thing and you’ll soon learn what true combat gaming is. With its appealing design and sturdy build quality, this is one fighting stick that we’re going to hang on to.