Hori earlier in the year introduced a new arcade stick model into the family. While not specifically named, this model was released in conjunction with Soulcalibur V. It features some interesting characteristics not included in any other standard arcade stick models from Hori. The model returned in limited quantities for Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Dead or Alive 5. While the TTT2 sticks sold out the week it was released in part with the game, I got the chance to examine the DOA5 version to elaborate not only that edition's specific characteristics but also the overall build that spreads between game-specific versions.
Being an original model, the stick does stand out from its other relatives. It doesn't look like an old or new Real Arcade Pro nor a Fighting Edge. The ABS plastic structure abandons the horizontal focus found on Hori's modern sticks which allows the face of the stick to have more vertical space. It's closer to that of Mad Catz' Tournament Edition FightStick models. This can mean good for some players since it will cover most of the upper leg area and allow the hand and wrist to rest. It also helps provide more room for the very adequate cable compartment on the front. With an overall weight of 6.2 pounds, similar to the TE's weight, the body feels appropriately hefty.
While the horizontal aspect seems less exaggerated than the Real Arcade Pro models, the DOA5 stick and its other licensed versions have almost the same width thanks to the handles on the side. My gripe with the handles though is the plastic pattern that covers most of the inside. There was probably a design reason behind the issue but it doesn't allow optimal grip and can be an annoyance. Besides that issue, the general body is well constructed and plays solid on a lap or a flat surface.
Don't expect anything radical about the arcade parts. The DOA5 stick features a lever and buttons from Sanwa Denshi so you know it will be reliable. Special to the DOA5 edition is the Sega arcade layout as opposed to Namco Noir found on the Soulcalibur V and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 editions. Players wont notice much of the difference between both layouts during play but it's neat to see Hori implement the Sega style. In the modification side of things, changing the buttons and the lever are easy to perform thanks to the quick disconnect harnesses. For those who want to add a plexi top and artwork to the DOA5 stick will might want to wait due to the changed layout.
One of Hori's main draws on the stick is their start button compartment. Hori's past sticks had both start and select buttons out in the open on the front of the stick. Some people's experiences with those models probably involved accidentally pressing start when needing to mash out. Hori's answer was to keep it in a specific compartment that's dug underneath the panel and can be viewable and used with a small door. Even if open, you won't worry about accidentally pressing start. It's unfortunate to see the select button be part of the side control panel on the top left featuring turbo and the home/guide button. It could work better if it was part of the start button compartment especially for some things like practice mode in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 which require simultaneous presses to reset position. Nevertheless, the idea of a compartment is really well done.
While the Xbox 360 gets the wired headset port for talking to friends over Xbox Live, the PlayStation 3 version of the sticks not only feature support for USB headsets but also USB keyboards. The PS3 versions of Dead or Alive 5, Soulcalibur V and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 feature the ability to text chat in online player matches. It's good that Hori noticed the online communication features to help provide communicating convenience in a stick so the other USB ports on the PS3 can probably be used for other arcade sticks.
Besides the issue involving the side handles and the desire to have the select button placed in a different area, it would have been welcoming to see some form of bottom anti-slip material out of the box. Fortunately, there is enough room on the bottom plate to add two very cheap adhesive felt sheets. I also would have hoped to see the Hori Hayabusa and Kuro parts built in instead of Sanwa but that's probably asking too much.
This stick is priced more than the Soulcalibur V stick due to its limited quantity so it's not only a playable stick but can be a good collectable. Regardless of game-licensed version, the stick is a really good standard line in Hori's family. It doesn't aim to be as radical as the Real Arcade Pro models nor the Fighting Edge but tries to be a stick that players would want to get with reasonable confidence and do the job.