As Strategy Informer’s resident fighting game nut, I love playing fighters the way I believe they were meant to be played – with an Arcade FightStick to fully replicate that arcade perfect experience. But with Mortal Kombat’s official PDP Arcade Stick not getting a European release, I was stuck.
Thank the lord, then, for Mad Catz, makers of the official Street Fighter IV arcade gear – as they’ve put out an alternative stick design for Mortal Kombat. If you already own a Street Fighter or Super Street Fighter IV Tournament Edition FightStick, previously reviewed here on Strategy Informer, this cheap upgrade can change the stick to a Mortal Kombat layout.
Mortal Kombat uses a significantly different button layout to Street Fighter. Street Fighter traditionally uses an eight-button layout in rows – four on the top and four on the bottom. Mortal Kombat uses a six button layout with the main five laid out in an ‘X’ formation with the final button kept off to the left.
In MK this means the top two buttons – the tips of the X, if you will – are used for your two punch buttons. The bottom two buttons are used for your kicks, and that button in the middle of the X is used for blocking.
It’s a perfect layout for MK, and after playing the game for around a week on a regular controller and the Street Fighter layout, it’s certainly a hell of an improvement over both control methods. The stick and buttons remain the same – though you can swap them out for American-style buttons should you wish.
The layout allows you to spread your right hand for hammering out combos and juggles in a manner which is far more comfortable for Mortal Kombat’s style of gameplay. While the dedicated throw button is gone, this is achieved by pressing the first punch and kick buttons together at once, much like Street Fighter – I didn’t miss the throw button.
Switching out the original layout for the new layout is quite easy. Included for the price of the upgrade is the metal panel and “Combat FightStick” artwork which has a blood-red and black Mortal Kombat-looking colour scheme, and it’s simply a matter of grabbing an Allen key and unscrewing the panel that comes with the original stick.
There’s no nasty soldering or fiddling to be done – the button connectors clip out and clip back in on the new stick, and then you screw it back in and you’re good to go. It’s an amazingly painless and easy operation, and extremely difficult to screw up from my estimation – if I can do it, just about anyone can.
If you’re serious about Mortal Kombat and don’t want to pay through the nose to import the official PDP stick, this offering from Mad Catz is a great alternative. It’s a cheap upgrade if you already own a stick, and it’s compatible with all Mad Catz TE Sticks – some of which can be found for very reasonable prices now online. Highly recommended.