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« The Last Minute Arcade Stick Buying Guide Day Two: Hori »

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. You can check out Monday's post on Mad Catz. Being Tuesday, here is a look at the next major controller company who strive on the arcade stick market.

Here is a little history of Hori and their involvement on arcade sticks. Ever since the 1990s, Hori has been making arcade sticks for video game consoles. In 1996, they were known for creating the legendary Namco Arcade Stick for the original PlayStation. From there, Hori has been delivering numerous arcade stick models throughout the generations including the Real Arcade Pro series. Now in 2012, Hori is still continuing on with what they are good at and then some.


Real Arcade Pro V Series (VX SA - Xbox 360, V3 SA - PlayStation 3)

The Real Arcade Pro models have gone through multiple physical iterations and the VX-SA and V3-SA models are the latest under the name. The newest models can be compared to that of Mad Catz's FightStick Pro where they have a width length of being large on the horizontal plane and short on the vertical zone. With a name Real Arcade Pro, it seems to capture the idea by having a playing panel similar to a Taito Vewlix arcade cabinet. A neat aspect of the latest RAP models are that their sides have a small handle so you can carry them with relative ease. Ther is also a USB cable compartment for those who want to clean up after a session. Both models also feature parts by Sanwa Denshi for the best quality straight from Japan. There is also a special Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 edition with front panel art featuring characters from the game. The V3 SA also gets a bonus version featuring art from Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown and a button layout reminiscent of Sega Lindbergh cabinets.

Much like the FightStick Pro, the Real Arcade Pro V series is a solid go-to stick and will do the job just fine. I do find the RAP V models to be a little bit awkward on my hands due to its more rough finish in comparison to the FightStick Pro. That however is very minor and specific that others might not notice at all.

Fighting EDGE (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

This is Hori's newest toy in their line of arcade sticks that's a radical departure from their existing models. The Fighting EDGE features many gizmos that are new and interesting. Two of the biggest differences are Hori's proprietary buttons and stick respectively dubbed the Kuro and Hayabusa. They are said to have longer life and are as good as parts from other renowned companies. There is also a special LED touch board where you can access the start and back/select commands as well as even program it to prevent accidental touching and button remapping. All of it and then some on new housing that looks pretty sleek with its flashy lights and a special bottom material to prevent slips while playing.

Unfortunately, I didn't get my hands on a pre-release model but some folks including ShinJN at Level|Up have been liking it. Japanese player Sako even has been playing it everywhere he goes in his home country. Let's see if the final version coming out on June 25 (you can pre-order now in the links above) justifies it's somewhat hefty $200 USD price tag that's only compatible on one console.

Soulcalibur V Arcade Stick (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

While the Fighting Edge is their best new design, they also made a new and solid-looking enclosure just in time for Soulcalibur V. It's much bigger than the modern Real Arcade Pro sticks but sort of harkens back to the older iterations but at a modern twist in terms of aesthetic design. The stick features small handles on the side to help carry in tourneys. Another cool addition is a start button on the top right that can features a small door that you can open and close at any time. The playing layout is reminiscent of Namco Noir cabinets so you can move throughout a 3D game's plane while not interfering with your other hand pressing buttons. Although this was made in part of Soulcalibur V's release, Hori is also planning to have a special Tekken Tag Tournament 2 version of the stick coming this September!

At a local tournament, I finally tried out the stick and damn it felt pretty solid. The different layout after being used to sticks with Vewlix and Sega Astro City styles took a couple of rounds to get used to since the intricate differences felt unusual to my hands at first. I was able to adapt later on just fine. The biggest draw is its $100 price tag you can find in some major online outlets and for a stick with Sanwa parts and an enclosure that can be found in pricier sticks, it's a steal.

Fighting Stick V Series (VX - Xbox 360, V3 - PlayStation 3)

These sticks are Hori's budget arcade stick line similar to that of Mad Catz's BrawlStick. With that said, the case is of a smaller style with buttons made by Hori. Regarding the latter, they don't feature the Hayabusa and Kuro parts like the Fighting Edge but rather their previously existing array that are serviceable yet not the best of quality.

I had experience with an older style budget stick by Hori and using their arcade parts were awkward most of the time. The stick lever has weird inconsistency of moving around and the buttons felt harder than regular Seimitsu types. The buttons even get stuck on some occasions. All in all, they seem less of a stick for the budget gamer but a challenge for the ever learning arcade stick modder since the stick provides interesting obstacles that modders have to endure to just to add a Sanwa lever and buttons.

Overall thoughts

Mad Catz and Hori are sort of the same as their sticks should do the job just fine. Both don't have multi-console support but both have similar dual-mod help from outside groups.

Hori sticks can be found on places such as Amazon and their official store (you have to pre-order the Fighting Edge here). Tournament weekends also bring sales and you can find some of them for very reasonable prices including the Soulcalibur V stick (Amazon though has it for $99 with free shipping). You can also follow them on Twitter @HoriUSAInc.

I know I didn't mention the older Real Arcade Pro sticks but similar to that of Mad Catz TE sticks, you can find some on Shoryuken's Trading Outlet, your local Craigslist listing or eBay. The older models vary in price especially the PlayStation 2 versions which can be seen for sometimes over $150. The benefit to the PlayStation 2 Real Arcade Pro models as opposed to the current generation iterations is that you can use solid converters for a very convenient multi-console stick. I will talk more about converters as well as special controller boards on day five! There are also Japanese exclusive Real Arcade Pro sticks on Japanese Amazon such as the newly modified RAP V3 SA and VX SE and the super pricey RAP VLX DIA stick but being an international store, I have not added these sticks as part of the lineup here but if you can afford one, go right ahead.

Thank you for checking out day two of the five day long buying guide. If you have any specific questions about Hori or other thoughts, please comment below! Wednesday will be about a company and its US distributor that has won over a lot of players for its convenient draw in the past couple of months!

I can be found not practicing for EVO and talking about random Taiwan MUGEN streams on my Twitter feed!

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