What’s good, everyone? Joshua Evo back again with another spiffy product review for you guys. If you remember your history, you’ll know that one of my first reviews was for an up and coming arcade stick company called eightarc. Since then, they’ve made quite a name for themselves as one of the top makers of arcade sticks in the fighting game community (FGC) as well as the industry as a whole. That review also established me as a pretty serious fighting game fan so you’d come to expect that more than a few of my product reviews would be of similar products in that vein and while I have much love for eightarc and the fantastic quality products they produce, there are a few other top companies in the community who will every once in a while, put out a product that changes the game. In the case of Mad Catz, it was the Tournament Edition sticks and their ilk. In my opinion, today’s subject is noted peripheral maker HORI’s contribution. Today, I’m reviewing The Fighting Edge arcade stick by HORI.
HORI is a Japan-based company that has been around since 1969 and has been working on gaming peripherals since 1983, so they’ve got a pretty good bit of mileage on them and definitely know their stuff as they were one of the first third-party peripheral and accessory manufacturers in the world. If you’ve been in the gaming scene for a least 10 years, chances are good you’ve either seen or used a HORI product. A while back, they started manufacturing arcade sticks for home consoles but in the early days, arcade sticks weren’t very reliable and in some cases, would actually short out the consoles they were connected to. After several years, HORI, Mad Catz and the other companies stepped it up and began setting the standards for how these sticks should be made with products like the Real Arcade Pro EX, VLX and the Tournament Edition sticks, respectively. Recently, HORI unleashed The Fighting Edge arcade stick to the public and with it, several innovations that separate this stick from the pack.
The first and most striking thing about this stick is its appearance. It’s one of the shiniest and unique looking controllers of its kind that’s ever been released. The picture to the left also provides a decent view of the touch panel on the right side of the stick that comprises the START/SELECT/Tournament Mode and Remap touch buttons that illuminate when the stick is powered. Also noticeable is the long LED strip that lies on either edge of the stick that glow and flash while active. Other noticeable features include the wrist rest which is actually very comfortable for long term play. The case also sports two compartments, the standard one to hold the cord and a second one for storage of things like extra parts, a cleaning cloth (which is included) or anything of that nature. Keep in mind that NEITHER of these compartments are padded in any way, so if you place anything into the storage, it will clatter about a bit as you carry it around. However, the tough ABS case can take a good beating if necessary (let’s face it, even the most skilled players mash it out sometimes) and is also lightweight. The top panel is just as durable and made of high quality acrylic, giving the stick a very slick appearance. My only problem with this is that it pretty seriously collects fingerprints after while and can start to feel a little on the grimy side. Thankfully, this is very easily remedied with a quick wipe down from the cleaning cloth. The bottom is a metal panel that has two non-skid pads on it (which has a feel similar to the stuff that they sell as shelf liner) so placing the stick on a table will keep it steady and in place. It works for lap-based play as well but it doesn’t lock in as tightly. The non-skid material is pretty decent but I feel like it would start to degrade the more the stick gets used.
Here, the stick is currently plugged into the console and the START/SELECT/Tournament Mode and Remap buttons are active. Again, this is the Playstation 3 version of the stick because I primarily play on the PS3 and am just NOT a fan of those four-colored buttons and particularly on a stick that looks like this. The Home button is clearly seen at the top left-hand side of the controller and another design tweak that can be seen here is the increased distance between the stick and the buttons. As a big, ham-handed player, I give HORI kudos for this decision. Looks aside though, let’s talk about how the stick handles. From the initial announcement, The Fighting Edge got a lot of press for not using the standard Sanwa OR Seimitsu parts. HORI went the extra step to develop and utilize original parts (which was something that many were concerned about as past HORI parts hadn’t been the most reliable). The controller utilizes new buttons referred to as “Kuro” (or Black in Japanese) buttons that feel like a happy medium between the sponginess of a Sanwa with the firm click of a Semitsu button. These buttons are a joy to use and incredibly responsive. The stick itself is another brand new innovation and is called “Hayabusa” (or Falcon in Japanese). I didn’t want to take mine apart to get TOO detailed a look, mostly because it was a present and a super nice stick but what I CAN tell you is that this stick as as responsive as the ANY of the leading JLF’s on the market. There were a few things I had to get used to in using it though. For example, it’s not as (again) spongy as a Sanwa stick and the throw distance is a LOT smaller. Additionally, if you would like more information on Throw, Deadzone and any other arcade stick terms and mechanics, click here. Movements are very tight and responsive and I was able to pull off all my favorite combos and moves without a hitch.
Here, you can see the stick set into Tournament Mode, which activates the LEDs and disables the touch panel and home buttons so as to avoid accidental DQ in tournament. Also, the lights just look really cool. When playing a game that supports vibration feedback (a la Street Fighter IV or Street Fighter x Tekken), the lights will flash red when being hit (that is, when a Dual Shock controller would normally vibrate). Activating Tournament Mode is as easy as holding down the Tournament Mode touch button (third from the top) until the touch panel buttons disappear and the LED’s illuminate. You can also deactivate it by doing the same thing. The top two buttons of the touch panel are of course START and SELECT but the bottom-most button is by far the most interesting one, as it allows you to remap your buttons on the fly. By holding down this touch button until it activates, you can hold down any of the Kuro buttons and then tilt the stick up or down to select from the available remap options. So if you want Square to function as X, you would simple put the stick into Config More by holding down the Config touch button until it beeps, then tap and hold the Square button and then scroll to and highlight X from the displayed options (which will display in red LEDs along the touch panel) and release the Square button. Now you’re set! The stick will also remember your individual configurations until you change them back. Hold the Config button down again until it beeps to finalize any changes. My only real nit pick with this is that I wish the confirmation beep would be two or three beeps instead of just the one.
To sum up, The Fighting Edge stick from HORI came out of the gate boasting a wide array of innovations and has done well to deliver on all of it promises. Unfortunately, at current time, HORI has said that they will not be selling their unique parts separately, which is a pretty serious bummer for people who want to mod or who have a button that doesn’t work. Thankfully, you can always swap in Sanwa parts but for me at least, part of the appeal of this stick was the specially engineered parts. That aside, this gorgeous looking stick has a BIT of a learning curve with it but once you get it down, it’ll be a very welcome addition to any fighter’s arsenal.
– Evo out.