Sunday, June 27, 2010

Xbox 360 Arcade Sticks

This is an extension of the originating Game Room post.

It is said that Microsoft has no plans to release an official arcade stick for Game Room. Although I think this is a big mistake by Microsoft, there are a number of third-party arcade controllers (designed for fighting games) by Hori and Mad Catz, albeit controllers that can be a bit on the pricey side.

As an alternative, one can use one of the numerous arcade sticks on the market, including the MadCatz Street Fighter IV arcade sticks, the Hori arcade sticks and Tekken 6 wireless arcade stick. All arcade sticks have 8 buttons on the face except for the Hori Real Arcade Pro EX2 and (the unofficial) Dream Arcade stick, and all arcade sticks are wired except for the Hori Tekken 6 stick and (the unofficial) Dream Arcade stick which are wireless.

For someone who hasn't had an "arcade stick" since the NES Advantage way back in 1988
NES Advantage 1988
this new day of arcade sticks and official japanese parts can be a bit confusing. Here's an attempt at a breakdown of Arcade Sticks for the Xbox 360.

Mad Catz Street Fighter IV Arcade FightStick

ThomGuestAcc from Please release an Arcade Controller says;
The mad catz SE stick (the white one) is smaller and more plasti-ey (excuse the phrase), and does not have sanwa or seimitsu parts, but was designed so that all the dimensions of the stick and buttons exactly match those of sanwa and seimitsus flagship sticks and buttons, so, you can easily swap the mad catz stick with a sanwa JLF stick and it works fine. Similarly, seimitsu's flagship stick (the LS-32-01) also is the same, a trivial swap. Swapping the mad catz buttons on the SE is a simple matter as well (to sanwa OBSF-30 or seimitsu PS-14-G). If anything, the main advantage of the mad catz sticks is the fact they are intentionally made to the exact specification that is used by the most popular sanwa and seimitsu lines of sticks and buttons, so changing or replacing parts if required is as easy as it can be since there is no soldering, no electronics modifications etc, it is simply a direct swap of a stick for a stick or a button for a button etc.

In summary the mad catz SE has mad catz parts which are inferior to the TE parts (which are sanwa) but can be replaced with sanwa or seimitsu parts with only a little effort required, while importantly, such a change does not involve anything other than direct swaps of parts that are not functional (ie no electronic modifications, no pcb modifications, simply swapping eg a bit of plastic with a bit of plastic etc...).

Mad Catz Street Fighter IV Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition Round 1, Tournament Edition Round 2, Sagar Scar design, Femme Fatale Limited Edition, and Marvel VS Capcom all have the same layout and design (they're the same Tournament Edition FightStick's, just with different artwork).

ThomGuestAcc from Please release an Arcade Controller says;
The TE stick is all sanwa parts, every TE stick has identical part numbers on the stick and buttons, just the colours of the ball top and buttons are different. If you look about, you usually can get TE's for the same price or less than it would cost to buy an SE+the sanwa parts included in the TE.

The mad catz TE sticks (round 1, round 2, femme fatale, MvsC2, penny arcade expo [sagat scar design] are all identical except artwork and colour choices, they all use the sanwa JLF stick and sanwa OBSF-30 buttons and OBSF-24 buttons for start and select.

Mad Catz Super Street Fighter IV Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition S (comes in White and Black)

ThomGuestAcc from Please release an Arcade Controller says;
The new design TE stick (for super SSF4) has identical parts (again, JLF, OBSF-30 and OBSF-24), but it has a slightly different construction in terms of the case.
The only functional difference between the TE and TE-S (The super one thats not out yet), is there is a switch on the TE-S that disables guide/start and select and auto fire, whereas on the intial design TE's, this switch only disables the auto fire panel. This 'change' was in response to requests from the SF4 community because accidentally pausing etc during tournaments results in a round disqualification.
Summary though is that all TE sticks have identical sanwa parts (stick and buttons identical, even in the new unreleased version). It is also worth noting that these sticks all use quick disconnects meaning if down the line something stopped working it is easy to get repaired, and the parts needed are a direct like for like swap (so the stick is identical post repair parts wise) and are available from almost all suppliers of arcade parts. Basically if your button dies etc you can replace it with an identical one and it will be identical afterwards (eg this is not some unofficial modification of an xbox device, it could be as simple as removing an OBSF-30 button and inserting an OBSF-30 button, no electronics or wiring or circuit boards etc ever enter the equation here, and if it is in warranty, mad catz do it for you anyway).

Hori Real Arcade Pro EX

The Hori Real Arcade Pro EX uses a Seimitsu joystick with Hori buttons.

Hori Real Arcade Pro EX-SE

The Hori Real Arcade Pro EX-SE uses Seimitsu joystick and buttons.

Hori Real Arcade Pro EX 2 (6 buttons)

The Real Arcade Pro Dead Or Alive 4 and Real Arcade Pro Soul Calibur IV Arcade Sticks are simply EX2's with specialized artwork ($10 premium). All EX 2's use Hori parts.

Hori Tekken 6 Wireless Arcade Stick (only available in bundle with Tekken 6)

The Tekken 6 Arcade Stick uses Hori parts.
ThomGuestAcc from Please release an Arcade Controller says;
The problem with most Hori sticks and some European sticks/parts is that they use parts which are not interchangeable eg many European buttons are slightly smaller than 30mm which means if you want to swap your buttons with the japanese arcade standard [sanwa or seimitsu] then you are going to have to do some work to modify your case to allow them to fit, while in some instances the buttons are soldered directly onto the controller pcb which means changing anything is extremely difficult and requires some technical expertise to do (I am not saying anything about the quality of the parts here you should note, just that the dimensions are different and in some cases the buttons are soldered directly onto circuit boards). Further, doing any sort of electronics modification, or even anything that is not a simple direct like-for-like swap of a bit of plastic (eg an identical button etc) potentially could get you banned from live, so not really advisable at all, and anyone who does anything like this is asking for trouble.

As of July 9, 2010 Hori's gargantuan $300 Hori Real Arcade Pro Premium VLX has become available in the USA. Unlike previous versions of the Real Arcade Pro which used Seimitsu parts, the Premium VLX uses all Sanwa parts.

Dream Arcades stick like the Tekken 6 by Hori is also wireless, but unlike the Tekken 6 stick Dream Arcades stick is not an officially licensed stick from Microsoft, so using it means risking getting banned from Xbox Live.
Video Review

- The Issue Of Paddle and Trackball Games -
I'd love to see a controller attempt to emulate Trackball and Paddle (aka Dial, Spinner) controls, although no matter if you're speaking of the Mad Catz Arcade Game Stick, the X-Arcade Tank Stick's trackball, or fitting your Mad Catz TE or Hori RAP with a Seimitsu LS-29 paddle/rotary knob from Gremlin Solutions...
Ruined says; "A trackball emulating an analog stick is just going to be a disappointment in the end. For a usable trackball MS needs to make mouse drivers for the 360, which do not exist at this point."
ThomGuestAcc says; "Until the 360 supports a mouse etc I really do not think we can do much better than what we have at present, certainly things like spinners/trackballs and other input devices are pretty much out."

The Mad Catz Arcade Game Stick may be the only controller to attempt to emulate a spinner, although from what's said on the Video Review it seems like the spinner portion was a disaster and did not work as intended.
*This controller is no longer manufactured or for sale.

The X-Arcade Tank Stick comes with a built-in trackball. All X-Arcade sticks require the use of a Xbox 360 Adapter.
More importantly though, X-Arcade is not an officially licensed stick from Microsoft, so using it means risking getting banned from Xbox Live.

ThomGuestAcc from Please release an Arcade Controller summarizes; What works best with retro games is extremely complicated, and in large will depend on whether you need a 4 way (left, right, up, down) stick or an 8 way (diagonals as well). What is best between sanwa or seimitsu is again complicated, game dependent (to some people), and also involves personal preference. You may want to read up at Slagcoin to gain some better understanding of what affects the choice of stick etc as no one can really tell you what you will prefer! Until the 360 (eg PS2, dreamcast etc), most people using sticks seriously were making custom sticks, now, it is probably fair to say that the Mad Catz TE stick is the standard stick. Even with all the tools and stuff required to make your own custom stick, the cost of the arcade parts alone, time and effort required to make a custom stick exceed that of the cost of a mad catz TE stick if you look about on the web and look for good deals, so pretty much everyone who needs a stick that I know (so this is in my experience, and only really is street fighter players), is using the mad catz sticks.

Ruined says; "The Hori Pad EX2 Turbo is AMAZING for Game Room. Great dpad and button placement."

"The Hori EX2 gamepad is a great controller for most of these games, as it has a superb dpad. Can also be used for SF4 with its 6 face buttons, or for analog games (i.e. crystal castles) with its analog controller."

"I have 4 arcade sticks (3 madcatz TE, 1 HRAP) all modded (with different types of gates, sticks, and one of the TEs I modded to be all Seimitsu build). I still end up using my HORI PAD EX2 for game room most often. First of all with some of the earlier games the TE sticks suck unless you mod them to +/cross gate (I did this with the HRAP) as you need the solid four directions without diagonals. Second there are some games that are completely useless like the games that used spinners and benefit most from analog stick roll (i.e. circus atari, kaboom, etc). The hori pad ex2 seems best if you dont want to be swapping controllers all the time.

Article On Joystick Brands
G4 Arcade Stick Round Up
SD Tekken

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