With Street Fighter IV giving the beat-em-up genre a fresh dragon-punch up the rear, we are now starting to see an army of fighters now releasing to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles. In light of this we bring you our review of the Official Street Fighter IV Arcade FightStick from Mad Catz.
Produced in close collaboration with the game’s developers, Capcom, the Arcade FightStick comes as part of a range of Street Fighter IV gear, from FightPads to collectable accessories. The FightStick and Pads have been created to support the game’s unique button mapping, whilst also enhancing the gameplay for both casual and dedicated fans alike. Two Street Fighter IV FightSticks were released, a standard and a tournament edition. Sadly we could only manage get our hands on the standard edition, so lets us roll up our sleeves and take a look at the stick itself.
First impressions of the FightStick are good. The whole controller feels solid and well built. The Official Street Fighter IV livery that dons the front plate makes the Official tag, that little bit more official, with Ryu and his buddies splashed across the white surface. On the top we have a traditional eight-button layout that is poised on the right side of the stick, a curved layout is used, something that I am personally more comfortable with over the more straight arrangement.
The stick and buttons sit inside a fair sized casing, and is pretty weighty too. This is ideal when manhandling the stick whilst trying your very best to pull if your characters signature moves. At the top left of the panel, alongside the Xbox Guide button, there is a Duel-speed Turbo function that can be used for each button, and is complete with LED indicators that allows gamers to execute moves with lighting speed. The Back and Start buttons have strangely been moved to the rear side of the FightStick, apparently this is to stop gamers from accidentally hitting them during bouts, but to be honest, the top panel is a fair size to accommodate them, even if they were to be small buttons.
Visually, everything seems great with the FightStick, but it is not until you start to press the buttons and move the stick whilst in-game that you begin to be a little disappointed. The most disappointing and frustrating issue I found with the standard version of the FightStick is the square gate that sits below the stick. Visually you can’t see it, but boy do you feel it. This makes (for me) pulling off Ryu’s dragon punches and fireballs in StreetFighter IV (the game it is endorsing) very hard to do in quick succession. I really wanted to like this stick, the size and weight was great, but I felt crippled not being able to pull off my moves without at least doing a handful of attempts before hand.
Maybe it was the game? I thought. So I tried the FightStick with Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix on Xbox LIVE Arcade, and to be fair it was a little better, but still not as easy as being able to pull off fireballs consistently with the joypad controller. King of Fighters XII was also singing the same tune so, sadly, all flaws (for me) point at the FightStick’s square gate. The buttons used are pretty average too, they feel a little flimsy on the press and not as solid as what you’d expect on an Arcade cabinet.
I can conclude that the standard Street Fighter IV FightStick is not for the Core beat-em-up gamer. It is best suited for the younger and or more casual gamer looking for a quick bout with some friends. The more advanced and dedicated gamers should be looking to spend that little bit more and consider the Street Fighter IV Tournament Edition of the FightStick. With its arcade cabinet components for the stick and buttons, along with its wider base, you’ll find a much more suitable FightStick. However, if you are used to a octagonal/circular gate, like I am, then neither will be for you and I recommend you look elsewhere, but for a casual gamer, this stick fits the bill just nicely whilst working just as well in other titles such as Castle Crashers and the like.