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Jun112012

« The Last Minute Arcade Stick Buying Guide Day One: Mad Catz »

EVO is in a couple of weeks and you registered for your games of choices. There is a problem! Maybe you play on Xbox 360 but EVO is a PlayStation 3-specified event. Maybe your PlayStation 3 stick is broken. Maybe you don't have a stick and want to get one before the big event or for other future meetups. Well here is a last minute guide on various sticks available in the market today. For Monday, this edition will be about the company that brought arcade sticks on the map in the past few years.

On the eve of Street Fighter IV's release in 2009, Mad Catz stepped in as the forerunner of modern arcade sticks with the Tournament Edition FightStick series. Three years later, Mad Catz is still doing it with their latest line.

Street Fighter X Tekken FightStick Pro (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

The FightStick Pro seems to replace the popular Tournament Edition series. This line features various elements in the previous model including the same turbo board, USB cable compartment and even ease of modding. The overall design looks more sleek than its older counterpart. The size also gone a similar change with a smaller vertical width (horizontal width is similar to TE). The sticks also feature pushbuttons and joysticks by Sanwa Denshi so you know they are durable.

After some time with a friend's FightStick Pro, it felt more comfortable to use than the TE series. Aside from the visual changes, the FightStick Pro sticks with what works for their high-quality sticks and that should be adequate for anybody getting a stick.

Street Fighter X Tekken FightStick V.S. (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

The second new design in Mad Catz's arsenal is the V.S.. The design on first glance recalls Sega's legendary but discontinued Virtua Stick High Grade but in Mad Catz's interpretation. It features the same notable features and components as the TE and FightStick Pro but has the ability to link another V.S. stick through a special kit, justifying its somewhat large size. The link kit though might not be useful for tournament play where you might have to walk around the venue but can be good for local play with friends. It's also has an added extra of addding art all around the stick with help of special panels from Tek Innovations.

Pictures might make the V.S. seem larger than expected but when in use, it feels like a slightly larger TE. It doesn't seem overwhelming to use. Mad Catz appropriately aimed for a balance of size to help accommodate the linking and portability for the lone fighter. It's a bit heavy though in comparison to the lighter FightStick Pro but it shouldn't be physically demanding for us fighting game players.

Soulcalibur V Arcade FightStick SOUL Edition (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3) and Major League Gaming Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

While the main TE series of sticks are currently out of production, Mad Catz still do have TE models for Soulcalibur V and the Major League Gaming series. The SOUL edition of the TE is based closer on the Super Street Fighter IV TE-S models with the lack of Taito Vewlix-style sides found on the original TE. The SOUL edition also includes a new button layout from what's featured on Namco Noir arcade cabinets to allow more open movement for stick maneuvering away from the buttons.

The MLG TE's features are closer to the original TE. The major difference though is the MLG color style of metallic red, white and blue all over various parts of the stick's shell. Instead of Street Fighter IV art, it's all MLG through a modifiable plexi glass.

Since they are TE models, it's safe to say they will play as well as the older models. The notable difference are aesthetic and if you guys like the look of any of these sticks, go for it.

WWE All Stars BrawlStick (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

During the TE's lifespan, there was another stick available for the fighting gamer with a budget. Previously titled the Standard Edition, the BrawlStick line has a much smaller form factor than any of their other designs. Because of the design, there is no cable compartment. The buttons and sticks are not from Sanwa but from Mad Catz. For those who want to use authentic Japanese parts, the BrawlStick is easy to open and replace much like their higher-priced sticks.

After owning one for years, this stick is for those who are on the fence in committing serious time to learning how to play fighting games or just on a limited budget. If you either want to continue on and/or have enough money, the arcade part upgrading ability is convenient. The design looks pretty cool for a small stick too.

Overall thoughts

These are the go-to sticks since they should provide the necessary job for any player. The biggest downside to these sticks are that there isn't multi-console compatibility out of the box so make sure to pick the right stick for your system. If you want to get it before your EVO matches, get the PlayStation 3 version of course. Mad Catz should be having a booth at the event so you can get one there. There are groups of people who made various controller boards to allow sticks to work not only on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC but also older consoles. Make sure to stay tuned to day five regarding custom controller boards and dual modding.

These sticks are available on various sites including Amazon and Mad Catz's own store. Always stay tuned as there are sales on the sticks during tournament weekends for very reasonable prices. Make sure to check out the latest tournament stream or follow Mad Catz on Twitter @MadCatz for more info.

In terms of finding the older Tournament Edition sticks such as the the TE-S line, they are not officially in production but you can always find used copies on Shoryuken's Trading Outlet, your local Craigslist listing or eBay for decent prices.

Thanks for checking out day one of the five day long buying guide! Tomorrow will feature another popular company who have sold the Japanese arcade stick style years before Street Fighter IV came out.

I can be found posting random things and retweeting everything Haunts says on my Twitter.

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