X-Arcade Stick


Review by Matt Paprocki



Overall: 8


Even with the advent of 3-D fighting games, die-hard players always find their way back to Street Fighter or the King of Fighters series. Even if you're not a pro, in no way does it kill their love for the genre and this exactly why any fighting fan is a candidate for one of these gorgeous one-player X-Arcade sticks. Though there are some minor problems with the stick, you really can’t go wrong if you're one of those people who is still clinging to the games of old.

xarcade1_various.gif (53513 bytes)Right out of the box, the X-Arcade screams quality. From the flawless veneer finish to the solid wood used to create it, these guys have spared no expense. The buttons have an extremely comfortable feel and the sticks spring loaded recoil is unparalleled. The box is also very professional looking and the packaging didn’t allow for any movement during the shipment. Speaking of which, the X-Arcade ships quickly, making it to my door in two days, and that’s only because that Monday was a holiday. That was with their free shipping offer as well.

The stick features nine face buttons, enough to support any of the major consoles. Button maps are available with the included instruction book. Two buttons are featured on the side, just underneath the top panel. These serve their purpose of replicating a pinball machine accurately. Another button on the back is for programming moves into the peripheral. Three memory banks are available and can be set to any button.

Adapters are available for various consoles from the PS2 to the Dreamcast. After pulling it’s 10-pound frame from it’s box and connecting the added PS One/PS2 adapter (which was also free!), it's a snap to head into something like Street Fighter Collection 2. It’s amazing, but even with it’s size, this stick is still perfect for placing on your lap. If it’s too much, the rubber grips on the bottom should hold things in place on a sturdy table just fine. Just by grasping it, you can feel how much care goes into making this stick. Some arcade machines don’t feel this well made.

Finally getting into the game, you'll notice some problems. Most notably, the dragon-punch motion that is so familiar with fighting game fanatics is nearly impossible to pull off without some inhuman-like reflexes. Half-circles, 360’s, and charge motions have never been easier. Players who use Guile will be thrilled. Sadly, trying to make anything out of Ken and Ryu is an exercise in frustration. A quick change of games to Street Fighter Alpha 3 and then to King of Fighters ‘99 proves futile. There's no trouble controlling the combatants in Soul Calibur II, but it’s not exactly what most people buy the stick for either.

xarcade2_various.jpg (45675 bytes)A quick check of their website shows a way to make the stick a bit easier to use. By bending some of the metal contacts, response time becomes quicker. After doing so, the ratio of hit dragon punches to missed is better. Probably 3 out of 5 times at best compared to the one out of five previously. Still, not very good considering the price.

However, that complaint is meager. The X-Arcade is meant to be taken apart and replaced with any arcade machine parts of your choosing (as evident by instructions on their site). After ordering a “competition stick” from HAPP (www.happcontrols.com), all things are forgiven. Moves come off without a hitch and the looseness of the included stick is gone. It would’ve been nice to maybe have the option of what style of stick you would want to be included, but the added price of a new stick is minor for the overall quality.

If you're not terribly into fighting games, the above complaints probably won’t even affect you anyway. Playing Pac-Man is a snap with the four-way controls (easily switched from eight after opening the bottom panel). Playing MAME is actually fun now compared to any old, horribly inaccurate, Gravis Pro that you have laying around. Also note their customer service is outstanding. An E-mail response within 12 hours is more than acceptable, especially given their courteous tone.

No, you'll probably not become any better at fighting games than you were previously, but they are a lot more fun to play thanks to X-Arcade. The price is certainly something that will keep this accessory in the hands of the hardcore, but you get what you pay for. You will NEVER get this quality from a generic stick bought off a store shelf. Better yet, this is the only stick you’ll ever need as they promise to support all upcoming consoles. In theory, you’ll save money in the long run. This is a must own, but fighting game fans need to be aware of the minor added cost to make their games more playable.


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Friday, January 20, 2006 01:37 PM