Playing fighting games with standard controllers is a method that many people swear by, but as somewhat of a purist I balk at the notion of it being as worthwhile as the alternative: an arcade stick. With the release of nearly every major fighting game over the past three years, a game-tailored arcade stick usually follows. While you have to provide your own “monitor” and pay more than a few quarters, they remain as close as possible to a nostalgic (and in many ways, better) experience.
Seeing as how Soulcalibur V has recently hit the market, Madcatz has taken it into their own hands to create the perfect solution for arcade-ready gaming in your home. For this review, I will be using the Xbox 360 version.Upon the unboxing of what is easily one of the most attractively packaged arcade sticks on the market, you’ll find a “medium-sized” (in comparison to the Street Fighter IV Standard Edition and Mortal Kombat Tournament Edition) Soulcalibur V SOUL Edition Arcade Stick.
What does that mean though? For those familiar with the Street Fighter series, Madcatz developed the arcade sticks for Street Fighter IV as well. In many ways, the Street Fighter IV Tournament Edition and Soulcalibur V SOUL Edition are alike, but feature distinct differences as well. Let’s start with the similarities:
The button layout is reminiscent of the Namco Noir cabinet style, but for those who enjoy all types of fighters, this stick will work on any major fighting title. Also similar is the control panel in the upper left hand corner of the stick. In this control panel you will find your consoles “home” button, your Turbo button, a three way joystick switch (allowing your joystick to mimic your choice of L analog, R analog or D-Pad), and a Controller Lock switch. I’d like to emphasize the importance of Controller Lock for those who wish to play in tournaments or serious online play, as locking your controller will cancel out the Turbo function and restrict access to the Xbox Guide (home) button. You will never have to worry about accidentally making that screen pop up in the midst of a deadly combo or getting disqualified, but for the sake of online play I hope that your opponent is feeling as rule-friendly as you!
Make no mistake about it though, I was more impressed with how this stick felt as far as durability and stability compared to any of the others I have used, even Madcatz’ own Street Fighter IV TE stick. The bezel (art) is truly awe-inspiring, showcasing the primary weapons of the series, the SOUL Edge and SOUL Calibur (get it?). I find myself just staring at the artwork, it really is something special and combined with the translucent casing makes it feel so much more unique than your average fight stick. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the most practical inclusion I have seen in this type of controller yet, one where many arcade sticks have tried and failed to smoothly incorporate.
On the “front” side of the casing (where the Start and Back buttons are) is a latch which opens up to properly pack away your USB cable (13′, included with purchase.) While that may seem small, I have grown tired of wrapping many feet of cable around expensive peripherals and this stick finds a natural way to rid that issue.
If you’re new to the arcade scene, I’d recommend trying out a stick before any purchase, mainly due to the steep learning curve needed to master a new way of playing. If you’re a veteran of the tournament scene, you probably already own this stick. If you are a veteran and DON’T own it yet, you’re truly missing out. Madcatz really outdid themselves and it’s the community who gets to reap the rewards. As they say in one of my favorite fighting games, Flawless Victory.
What do you think about the SoulCalibur V SOUL Edition Arcade Stick? You’re able to pick one up today on Amazon. What do you think about about today’s review? Be sure to let us know what you think by leaving us a comment below, or discuss the arcade stick in our forums.