Hey you! You want to fight? No, not with me in real life, I’m talking about fighting video games of course. If you love playing fighting games, you know how important a proper fight stick is to the experience. Today, we’re taking a look at the $200 Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2, which is made to work with Xbox One, and one of the few compatible with Microsoft’s latest console.
Mad Catz is a company known for its gaming hardware. Does its ultra-expensive FightStick Tournament Edition 2 live up to many of the other gaming devices the company has released, such as the M.O.J.O Android gaming console as well as their STRIKE 7 modular gaming keyboard? Or is it just an overpriced piece of extremely niche hardware? Let’s find out.
Best of all, we’re giving away a Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 to one lucky winner, and it could be you! Read through to the bottom to find out how to enter for your chance to win.
Introducing the Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2
Mad Catz aims this fight stick at the most dedicated of fighting game fans. It uses actual arcade-quality components from Japanese company SANWA. That’s a brand synonymous with high-end components, and it’s good to know that after paying $200 for a gaming accessory, it’s fitted with high-end parts. Just having that SANWA name attached provides gamers with confidence that they are buying a device that will last.
As far as competition goes, there isn’t much out there. Mad Catz had its own Killer Instinct branded stick, which is essentially the same device the one we’re reviewing today, but with Killer Instinct artwork. However, it is unavailable without resorting to paying a premium on sites like eBay. Razer has a Xbox One version of its Atrox stick due to be released in November — it’ll be available for around $199.99. Aside from those two, you might have to resort to building your own, which is definitely quite a bit cheaper than purchasing one of these options, but also requires a bit more skill and knowledge.
So to put it simply, if you want a fight stick for your Xbox One, and you want it now, the Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 is the only option in town right now. But that doesn’t give it a free pass. It’s still an expensive piece of hardware, so it needs to live up to it in terms of quality. Does it?
Upon grabbing the box and cracking it open, the first thing I noticed is how heavy the Mad Catz Arcade FightStick is. It’s a beefy piece of gaming hardware, which makes sense, as it’s designed to be used by competitive gamers in tournaments and during other intense play sessions.
After pulling the fight stick out of the box, you’ll find the instructions and a tool for modifications tucked underneath. We’ll get more into opening up the stick and making tweaks to it later. However, by including the tool you need right in that box, it’s clear that Mad Catz intends for gamers to modify the stick. The little instruction booklet will provide some basic information on modding but the process is extremely easy.
The thing you’ll obviously appreciate right away is the way the device looks. It features a simple red and black color scheme with subdued gray buttons. It’s a low key design, but it’s effective and handsome. After all, you don’t want the stick to draw all of the attention; you want your opponents to focus on your intense fighting skills!
Let’s take a closer look at the actual design of the stick, starting with the joystick — it’s a ball-top stick. Personally, I like this style, but some players prefer a bat or other stick type. It’s easy enough to buy a different type and change it yourself, though. The buttons have that nice clicky feel you’d expect from an arcade game controller. They are arranged in a slightly curved four and four pattern; X, Y, and the two bumpers on top the top row. On the bottom row you’ll find A, B, and the triggers.
A key thing to note about this fight stick is the placement of the menu buttons on the front. The front edge is slightly angled to prevent players from accidentally leaning up against something and pressing them. There’s also a lock button on the top of the fight stick console that completely disables these buttons. Pausing the game in a real tournament usually leads to an automatic disqualification, and that’s the last way anyone wants to lose. Mad Catz knows this, and took these two steps to prevent pressing them accidentally. It’s just another indication that the Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 was clearly designed with competitive gamers in mind.
It’s easy enough to access the internal compartment. You simply push a button and pop it open. Inside, you’ll find the wires and components that you could potentially modify; you’ll also find storage for additional buttons, sticks, and cords. Having easy access to the compartment is quite convenient even if you don’t plan on modding, as it’s a good idea for any competitive player to pick up a few extra buttons just in case one happens to break during a tournament.
This fight stick does require a cord in order to work. You’ll often find this to be the case in hardware designed for competitive gaming since a wired connection is more reliable. The cord is detachable for ease of transport, may be stored in the compartment, and it actually screws into the front of the fight stick, preventing it from getting yanked by accident if someone were to trip over it.
Another key design aspect is the bottom of the device, which features an ultra-grippy foam surface covering a solid metal surface. Coupled with the weight of the joystick, it means you can place the fight stick on nearly any surface without having to worry about it sliding around. This is absolutely critical for competitive players, as you never know what kind of surface you’ll be playing on at a tournament, and having the confidence that your stick is going to be stable is reassuring. No competitor would want to lose just because their fight stick slid off the table.
You’ll also find two metal hooks on the front of the device, and these included so you can mount a shoulder strap to make it easier to carry the device around. If you’re planning on taking this device to tournaments, this is almost required. However, the strap is optional accessory, and isn’t included in the box. For $200, it should have been.
All in all, this is an incredibly well-designed bit of gaming kit. It’s heavy, without being unreasonably cumbersome, and it’s made with some fantastic parts. For hardcore fighting game fans, this one ticks all of the right boxes from a design perspective. Does it do the same in terms of actually playing games with it?
With a device like this it’s all about the gameplay, and the Mad Catz Arcade FightStick definitely delivers. However, there’s a giant elephant in the room that we need to address before we actually get to the comfort and feel of the device, and that’s the extreme lack of fighting games on the Xbox One. In fact, there’s exactly one, known as Killer Instinct. It’s a game you can try for free, with optional character purchases, which is nice, but it’s missing games from the Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter franchises — staples for competitive fighting fans. You’re spending the money with the promise of future fighting games, but if you already know Killer Instinct isn’t your type of game, you can stop reading right now and hold off on buying the Mad Catz Arcade FightStick until other games are released. By then, more fight sticks will be on the market, and you might even be able to purchase a less expensive one.
I’ll make this really simple, gameplay on Mad Catz Arcade FightStick is flawless. The layout of the buttons is comfortable, the joystick has that satisfying “click” you expect, and it even has little groves as you move around, offering extra precision for your quarter circles and combos. It’s the best experience I’ve had playing a fighting game outside of an arcade, and that’s about all that you can ask for.
The problem with the lack of games could be negated if you could use this stick on PC, and while the Xbox One controller drivers do work, the LT and RT buttons are unresponsive, and the LB and RB buttons are reversed. You can open up the stick and switch the cables to correct the LB and RB buttons, but there’s nothing you can do to fix the LT and RT issue. If a game requires more than six buttons (and most fighting games do), using this on PC will be a no-go.
Modifying The FightStick
A major selling point of the stick is how easy it is to open up and modify. Whether you just need to change buttons because one broke, or you want to swap them out for clear ones with built-in lights, Mad Catz has you covered. Speaking of lights, Mad Catz has made that process easy with a button that allows you to turn LEDs on and off should you choose to make that modification.
If you don’t like the subdued artwork of the stick, you can actually swap that out for an image of your choosing. It will take a little work, as you’ll need to measure and cut out circles to fit around the buttons, but it’s nice to know that you can tweak that aspect of the look as well.
All mods are done with one tool that comes in the box, which means even the less DIY savvy among us can do it. Everything is also clearly labeled, which will prevent you from screwing anything up while you are in there messing around. It really doesn’t get much easier than what this device offers.
Basically, there isn’t much about the Mad Catz Arcade FightStick that you can’t change. If you don’t like the ball joystick, you can change it to a bat. If you want lights, you can add them. If you want new art, the process is painless. Mad Catz knows that competitive gamers want options, and they’ve gone out of their way to include them with this device.
In the end, the only real drawbacks of the Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 are the price, and lack of fighting games available on the Xbox One. Only one of them is Mad Catz fault. This device is targeted at people looking for high-end equipment and expect to pay a lot of money for it. Basically, it’s just a great stick that feels as good as it looks.
MakeUseOf recommends: Buy it if you are looking for a fight stick for your Xbox One.
How Do I Win The Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2?
The winner will be selected at random and informed via email. View the list of winners here.
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