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« The Last Minute Arcade Stick Buying Guide Special: International Competitors' Sticks »

The Cafe ID crew from South Korea with one of the members, Lacid, holding onto the Joytron EXChanger. Photo by @KarafaceThe 2012 iteration of the Evolution fighting game tournament is over. Some of the overseas players who competed had some interesting sticks you can't regularly find here. For this special edition of the guide, it's going be a showcase of what sticks some of these top Asian players used, especially from South Korea.

During fighting game's older years, it was dominated by the American-made levers and buttons that required some work to do best in. The fighting game revival since 2008 popularized the Japanese style for quick and instant action. South Korea is another area where they have their own style of levers and buttons. The buttons are not that much different to their Japanese counterpart but the levers in a way can be a blend of Japan and America with a bat top and a circular gate without the heavy tension. Most common when used in Tekken games and other 3D 8-way fighters, more players have been using the overlooked parts in more traditional 2D fighters such as Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition Ver. 2012 and The King of Fighters XIII.

Etokki Omni (Multi-console Xbox 360/PlayStation 3)

Infiltration dominated Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition Ver. 2012's top 8 at EVO with this stick. Laugh also used this stick with Infiltration to win Street Fighter X Tekken teams.

If you look at it, it recalls the Virtua Stick High Grade but with a different take. Buttons such as home, start and select are now in the front instead of the top panel. The top panel is on a modified Taito Vewlix layout with the stick lever and buttons are more spread apart. Another addition is the customization to allow Japanese or Korean levers be used in the stick with ease (with help from special plexi panels). Didn't I mention this stick is multi-console compatible with Joytron's Paewang Revolution? Just by holding the turbo button when plugging the stick in, it will know what console it's plugged into and will remember what setting it was next time! All in a full metal case with either Sanwa buttons and a lever (Japanese version) or a Korean Myoungshin Fanta lever and Crown buttons (Korean version).

During NorCal Regionals 10, I approached Laugh and tried out his copy. Despite being the Korean version, it felt amazing. I can even go far as saying it felt like a beast. The weight of the metal enclosure is right on the spot and the dimensions are perfectly sized. There isn't a cable compartment but it ain't a significant issue. I tried the stick on Street Fighter X Tekken, Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition Ver. 2012 and Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown and was able to do my inputs fine like if I was using a Japanese type. If you ever want to try something different type of stick without the need for complicated import issues, the stick is a good alternative. If you play Tekken, the Korean edition can be good to make more efficient dash motions.

Revision 3 is in the works with an expected release in August-September so stay tuned for updates in the webstore!

Joytron EXChanger (Multi-console Xbox 360/PlayStation 3)

This stick was released last fall but there wasn't much news about it outside South Korea. At EVO, some of the Cafe ID folks were playing on this stick. This stick is similar to the Etokki Omni but has some neat differences

The stick is in a stylish plastic body with only a metal top panel that can house either a Korean lever or a Sanwa stick which is one of the EXChanger's draws. Although not as versatile as the Omni, it's a good addition. An important note is that Korean sticks have larger insert holes to allow the levers go through the top panel which requires people who switch to Sanwa to use a larger dustcover to prevent the regular size covers to fall through. A drawback of this feature is that the mounting for Korean levers is high when compared to other sticks that allow said levers, probably due to the plastic body's limitations. It can be an unusual for experienced folks.

A cool addition is the ability to open the case easily after removing two side switches and a button at the front. This allows modding the buttons and lever to be easily performed. You don't have to worry about dual-modding since it's multi-console out of the box with a console switch on the control panel. The biggest problem with opening the stick is the plastic hinge that keeps it intact. Eventually, it might break but getting a durable replacement should be easy.

While I didn't try out the Korean version, I got to experience the Sanwa-equipped version from one of the Cafe ID folks and it did feel good. Nothing really special about it but it did do its job just fine. The body when played on the lap did feel comfortable even it was more on the lighter side. The layout was of a Taito Vewlix with one minor change: the lever mount was slightly lower. It felt unusual for a moment but wasn't much of a distraction after getting comfortable with it.

While Joytron doesn't officially sell the stick internationally, an exporter site has both the Korean and Japanese editions.

Gammac Fanta Stick PX (Multi-console Xbox 360/PlayStation 3)

Cafe ID's own Verna used this stick up into his matches in top 8 KOF. Out of all the sticks in this guide, this is probably the most unusual of the bunch.

The PX is dual modded like the Omni and the Exchanger. The button layout is more of that reminiscent of the original Hori Real Arcade Pro models. One of the first aspects that makes this stick interesting is that the buttons and lever are not from the more recognizable companies from Korea or Japan. It seems that it's Gammac's own parts. The stock lever has a bat top and a modifiable gate where it can be either square or circle. For those who want to replace the stock parts with more reliable ones, it might require some work.

Another interesting aspect of the stick is that it features two vibrating motors so whenever your character gets hit, you will feel it. Unfortunately, there is no switch on the stick to turn off the vibration unless you desolder the wires or turn off vibration in every game.

Much like the Joytron Exchanger, an exporter site is selling the PX stick.

IST Solution Makestick Pro (Multi-console Xbox 360/PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2)

Cafe ID's own Mad_KOF won the EVO KOF tournament with this stick. He has been a long user of the stick since the release of the game. In every video of online play through YouTube, Mad used two versions of the stick.

IST is selling multiple editions of the Makestick Pro for multiple consoles (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3, PS3, 360, PS2) and different models (macro buttons, LED). Every stick comes with a Korean lever from Myoungshin with Sanwa buttons in modified original Hori Real Arcade Pro layout. Fortunately, every Makestick Pro has a mounting plate that allows Sanwa and Seimitsu levers to be installed. The button holes are 30mm and have quick-disconnect cables so changing buttons should be easy.

With some help, there is an exporter site that can ship multiple versions of the Makestick Pro worldwide.

Qanba Q2 Pro (Multi-console Xbox 360/PlayStation 3)

Qanba has been teasing these sticks for a while. For a bit, the only well known users were China's KOF players Dakou and Xiaohai who brought them to both Shadowloo Showdown 2K12 and EVO 2K12. Xiaohai got to top 8 in AE2012 with this stick!

The Q2 Pro is a new body featuring the characteristics found in many Qanba/Eightarc sticks including multi-console support out of the box, cable compartment and Sanwa parts. One new draw is that the stick allows the layout to be flipped in the flick of a dedicated switch. Users who prefer using their right hand for the lever and their left for buttons, this is their answer without the need to cross arms.

There is a standard edition allowing easy use of the layout flip mechanic as well as a Pro Edition with a Vewlix layout. Both versions feature a USB microphone port for PS3 and PC users.

The Q2 Pro is available now at Play-Asia! Eightarc should have the stick available in the coming future!

Overall thoughts

Take into account that these sticks are different from the Japanese counterparts. Adapting to the buttons and especially the levers might differ between owners. Also take into account that most of these sticks are from Asian nations only marketed for them so you will have to pay a bit more to have it shipped to other nations unless you can get a friend going to South Korea for example to get it for you. If you are interested in trying something new, this guide should help.

You can find me being somewhat proud that some folks played The King of Fighters XIII at EVO regardless of skill on my Twitter feed!

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