Thursday, March 12, 2009
Like many other gamers out there, I've been playing an absurd amount of Street Fighter IV lately. While it's a blast with any controller, those who grew up playing fighters in the arcade know that no control option can compare to a joystick and some large buttons. An analog stick, shoddy d-pad, and shoulder buttons can make it a chore to pull off advanced moves in a game that requires precise motion like SFIV. Thankfully, MadCatz has realized this and responded by producing controllers specifically with fighters in mind.
MadCatz Street Fighter IV FightStick (360)
Sporting some attractive SFIV art, this control option both looks and feels right for the game. It's sturdy and the button placement was designed well in many different aspects. Start and Back are placed on the side of the base that faces forward, so there's virtually no risk of accidentally hitting them when trying to pull off complex moves like Guile or Vega's Ultra. If you're worried about hitting the Guide button (a common problem during fast-paced fights), they've thought of that too. You can simply slide the "lock" switch over, and this completely disables that button's function. Assigning turbo to the face buttons is a snap, simply requiring you to hold the "Turbo" button, followed by pressing the button you wish to assign it to. Simply repeat the process to turn off individual assignments.
The only issue I've encountered is a very minor one, and one that will surely subside with practice. It seems easier to mistake the "fireball" motion for a "shoryuken" motion, especially when attempting Ultra moves. There were many times that I couldn't pull off Ryu's special because it kept thinking I was attempting an uppercut, but this has gone down in frequency as my playtime with the FightStick has increased. All of the Ultras that are done with the quick "back-forward-back-forward" motion (E. Honda, M. Bison, etc) are an absolute breeze with this controller. Zangief users will also be very pleased at how frequently you can pull off his moves without error. Overall, the FightStick is a fantastic way to play Street Fighter IV, and is head and shoulders above the 360 controller.
MadCatz Street Fighter IV FightPad (360)
For those not willing to drop $80 on the excellent FightStick, MadCatz also offers a $40 FightPad controller with a D-pad that trounces the one found on the standard 360 model. It smartly brings the high attack buttons down to the front, so you won't have to reach to the shoulders every time you want to hit your opponent with a high punch or kick. This makes combos and EX attacks easier, and the larger "triple button press" buttons on top make Ultras far more accessible. The "back-forward-back-forward" Ultras aren't quite as easy on this as they are on the FightStick, but the fireball motion is far smoother.
It features all of the turbo options that the FightStick has, and the Start and Back buttons are recessed to the point where you won't accidentally hit them. All six of the face buttons are large and accessible, and it almost resembles the six-button Genesis controller that was fantastic for fighters.
If you're planning on putting a serious amount of time into Street Fighter IV, you owe it to yourself to check out these MadCatz controllers. They greatly improve on the experience, and blow away the Xbox 360 controller in virtually every aspect. As of this writing, they're pretty hard to find, but MadCatz plans on having plenty available in the near future. Keep an eye out for them.