Along with Street Fighter IV’s mainstream revival of the fighting genre game Mad Catz, working directly with the developers over at Capcom to create the most arcade-authentic experience possible at home.
In line with that vision, the guys over at Mad Catz created two models of stick for the release of Street Fighter IV – the standard FightStick and the Tournament Edition FightStick. Both models offer arcade-level precision at home, with the Tournament Edition offering features and quality that hardcore Street Fighter fans expect at a price premium.
For the release of Super Street Fighter IV Mad Catz sent us over one of the latest model of the stick – the Super Street Fighter IV FightStick Tournament Edition S. As the name suggests, it’s branded for Super this time, while the S signifies the fact that the stick has lost a little of its physical bulk.
The first thing that struck me upon receiving the stick was the absolutely stunning quality of the packaging. Featuring Ryu and Ken prominently, the packaging features imagery of all of Super’s thirty-five playable characters and has an absolutely awesome flip-lid box which allows you to show off the quality of the stick inside without even taking it out of the box.
While the box for my Hori Real Arcade Pro EX2 was discarded as soon as I’d taken the stick out, this box is of such high quality that I’ve held onto it and keep placing the stick back into it – which in turn is keeping the stick a ton safer, too. Mad Catz definitely deserve two thumbs up for presentation.
The stick itself is equally as well constructed, managing to meld the slimmer design with sturdiness, with the whole stick offering a reassuring weight that makes it feel sturdy and quality while ditching much of the bulk that makes home-use arcade sticks overly bulky.
Despite the S designation, this isn’t a small stick. It’s a heavy box, and rivals the console you’ll be playing the game on in size. In an arcade stick this can only be a good thing, though, as a teeny-tiny stick cramps your hands and the weight helps to stop the stick from moving about during intense battles.
The stick is as authentic as you’re going to get sitting in your living room; featuring the original Sanwa brand arcade parts that were used in the real Street Fighter IV arcade cabinets over in Japan and the buttons laid out in the exact same way they are in the Japanese arcades.
The stick is wired to eliminate any potential crossed-signal issues at tournaments and also to ensure that there’s no input lag – a vital assurance for the ultra-fast fighting genre where every frame counts. The wire is handily massive, with more than enough length to stretch across even the largest living room or gaming cave.
The Start and Back buttons have been placed on the back of the stick facing away from the player, ensuring they don’t get accidentally pressed mid-match. As if that wasn’t enough there’s also a flick switch on the face of the stick that stops the Xbox Guide, Playstation button or Start from working – absolutely ensuring gameplay will go uninterrupted.
A second switch will also allow you to choose what the stick itself is – the D-Pad, Right Stick or Left Stick. This allows the stick to potentially be used for games that only use the D-Pad control, making it potentially ideal for Xbox Live Arcade or Game Room games that were originally in the arcade.
Also handy is the addition of turbo fire, which can be mapped to any of the face buttons on the stick and used liberally. Morally I wouldn’t recommend doing that online, but the feature is there to use and abuse as you wish. There’s also an Xbox Live headset port for talking back as you’re accused of being a scrub or a flowcharter, of course.
The build, size and shape of the stick feel just right. While it lacks the roominess about the buttons that a real-life arcade cabinet often has it’s the ideal size and shape for home use; small enough and light enough to fit on your lap or a small table, but also large and heavy enough to be a sturdy, strong and reliable piece of kit. The stick always felt robust even when trying to pull off the most intense combos, which is always welcome.
The stick seems to pick up input very well, and I felt while there was a bit of a rough honeymoon period where I struggled to get to grips with playing with a stick, I was quickly pulling off moves more quickly and reliably than I ever managed with a regular controller – it really is true that a decent stick offers a greater degree of control.
The stick managed to keep up with the speediest of battles easily, and I never felt that it was the controller’s fault that I lost a bout – something which used to frequently happen with a regular controller!
As mentioned earlier, the stick is a viable choice for more games than just Super Street Fighter IV – there’s of course other fighters including Dead or Alive 4 and Soul Calibur 4 as well Xbox Live Arcade titles like Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, but it’s also perfectly viable for other Xbox Live Arcade titles, from something like Pac Man Championship Edition to Streets of Rage 2’s XBLA port.
That versatility helps to justify the price tag a little more, but really how awesome the stick is in itself more than justifies the price, even if it is admittedly expensive. It’s not likely to break, and it’s easily moddable should the need to change the artwork, buttons or more take your fancy.
If all that wasn’t enough to justify the price, I can’t make it clear enough how high quality a build this is – it’s definitely one of the nicest, most upmarket pieces of gaming equipment I own. The only issue I have is the slightly rough edge where the artwork ends that can grate on the wrists after a while – but this is minor.
There’s a veritable glut of 2D fighting games available for the Xbox 360 now, and so the extra edge and authenticity this stick will help to give you should be more than enough reason to make any fighting fan make the investment. I should know – I just bought a second!