Stream Status



« Review: Qanba Drone arcade stick (PlayStation 4) & Guardian bag »

Chinese company Qanba was the organization to look toward when getting an all-in-one arcade stick in the last generation of consoles. As the newer series of systems emerged, the manufacturer kept making its existing line while competitors like Mad Catz and Hori moved forward with newer sticks. That trend left fighting game players wondering what happened to Qanba until now.



The Drone is Qanba's first attempt at a stick for this generation, and the results are interesting. Instead of going with a full-priced stick for the PlayStation 4, Qanba reemerged with a more affordable piece. Thus, the Drone can be interpreted as a test run of sorts. Using the N1 arcade stick body as a basis, the Drone arcade stick, or model N2-PS4-01, is a smaller arcade stick that wants to compete against Hori's Fighting Stick MINI 4 and Mad Catz's Arcade FightStick Alpha. Qanba seems to make a statement to newcomers that this stick is something to consider, even if there are compromises.

Upon taking a look at the stick, the appearance does give a strong impression. While most of the plastic body is black, yellow pops out along with a honeycomb pattern giving a nod to the drone bee. As mentioned, the Drone is based on Qanba's N1 body so the form factor is 14x6x9.5 inches, slightly bigger than other budget sticks but smaller than most high-price models. As a beginner stick, the relatively bigger body is welcoming. Its three pound weight is lighter than that of the five pound FightStick Alpha, but heavier than the FS MINI 4's one pound body. It would have been nice if it was a bit heavier, but as it is the weight isn't a negative influence.

An interesting element found on the Drone is its USB cable management. Instead of having a storage compartment like that found on other Qanba sticks, the Drone lacks one altogether. As an alternative option, the bottom of the hand rest has room to allow the cable to sit inside. It's not the cleanest method of cable control, but it does get the job done after playing.

The Drone also bears an anti-slip bottom pad. On a lap, the material does its best to stay grounded, but due to the stick's light weight the peripheral can still be prone to falling off without self-control. On a table, the Drone will stay in its spot most if not all of the time.

If you are looking to personalize the Drone, choices will be limited. Since the artwork is embedded in the body, effectively inserting custom art would be complicated. Something like vinyl stickers is a plausible solution.

Budget arcade sticks usually do not feature high-quality arcade parts as a way to cut costs. The Drone isn't really much different. Similar to other older Qanba arcade sticks, this stick's lever and eight pushbuttons are all proprietary imitations of Sanwa Denshi parts. Obviously, the quality is not equal and the stick has its weird quirks but the parts are tolerable to use. While the buttons work fine most of the time, the lever feels loose and has problems returning to neutral efficiently. In terms of leveling up to newer parts, it is definitely possible. The buttons can easily be replaced with most 30mm buttons and connected with supplied quick disconnects. For the lever, you can't just insert a Sanwa JLF. Unless you have modding skills and can install a five pin lever harness to the PCB, you need to buy separate microswitches for each direction which isn't complicated to install. Check out the image gallery for screenshots of the internal structure.

When it comes to special controls, the Drone offers standard choices. Features such as the PS4/PS3 switch, lock switch, and LS/RS buttons are all situated in one mini panel on the top end. It would have been nice to have Touch Pad support on the panel, but with it being an officially licensed stick Qanba would have to implement an actual Touch Pad somewhere on the Drone, affecting the overall cost.

Qanba also kept cost low by not including table clamps. Similar to the Qanba Q1 stick, the Drone and its predecessor let players insert clamps onto the stick so it can be attached to tables. This was a neat idea for players had little table space. It's unfortunate to not see the clamps with the stick, but players who have the Q1 or the recently released Carbon arcade stick can take advantage of the feature.

Priced at $89.99, the Drone is the most expensive of the budget bunch. Compared to its rivals though, this stick feels a little more fleshed out. It doesn't come off as a toy or novelty controller. Its limitations are present but if you look into upgrading it down the line, the Drone approaches the border between budget and commonly-priced sticks.

Qanba took a chance of starting small but the Drone offers hope for what the company might offer in the future. While dedicated players will wait for more models to release, newer players who want a new stick can feel comfortable using the Drone.


The original Defender bag from Qanba was good in carrying arcade sticks of most sizes. For me, it was a reliable workhorse of a bag not only when going to tournaments but for other uses. The Defender's large size as well as extra pockets were useful. Qanba's new bag, dubbed the Guardian, improves some of the Defender's traits, albeit at a heftier price.

On first glance, the Guardian looks sturdier than the Defender. This is mostly due to changes in the main sack. The Guardian sports a more durable cushion to not only protect the stick but also prevent the bag from flattening out when emptied. The Guardian can also now carry arcade sticks up to 19 inches long; aside from Hori's Real Arcade Pro VLX series, most sticks should fit easily. And due to its design, the Guardian should be able to carry books and other things much easier than what the Defender did.

The body of the Guardian also sports plastic feet on its bottom. Not only do the feet help in keeping the bag steady, but they also minimize the amount of dirt and debris that can touch the bag.

While the Guardian and its predecessor look similar, the new bag carries some changes in its smaller pockets. The front pocket is more horizontal than the Defender's vertical style. This allows for more room to keep items inside. The Defender's internal pocket after releasing the dual snap buckles was replaced with two small pockets on the sides for easier access. The reliable big top pocket still remains in the Guardian.

In terms of comfort, Qanba added cushions to the back to lessen carrying stress. When using the Defender for a couple of years, the lack of rear cushions became more apparent down the line. Hopefully this addition helps when I bring this to other events in the future.

The improvements do come at a price of $89.99 compared to the Defender's original $59.99 tag. The appeal of the Defender was that it sat at a more-bang-for-your-buck price tag for an arcade stick bag. That value is not really present with the Guardian. For those who have a Defender with little damage, you can skip on getting a Guardian.

That said, this is not a bad price compared to other similarly valued premium bags out there. The changes do prove their worth and if you need a stick carrier for a big major tournament or even a friend's local session, the Guardian is an option to look into.

Both products are available now either on Eightarc or Qanba USA!

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.
Member Account Required
You must have a member account on this website in order to post comments. Log in to your account to enable posting.