X-Arcade Sticks

I consider myself a fighting game fanatic...at least as far as the 2-D ones are concerned. A few odd 3-D ones have caught my eye in the past, but I always find my way back to Street Fighter or the King of Fighters series. This is all well and good except for one thing: I'm terrible at them. Beyond terrible actually. In fact, I may consider myself one of the worst players in the modern world when it comes to the genre. This in no way however kills my love for them and is exactly why I was a candidate for one of these gorgeous 1-player X-arcade sticks. Though there are some minor problems with the stick, you really can't go wrong if your one of those people who is still clinging to the games of old. Right out of the box, the X-Arcade screams quality. From the flawless veneer finish to the solid wood used to create it, these guys have spared no expense.The buttons have an exremely solid feel and the sticks spring loaded recoil is unparralleled. The box is also very professional looking and the packaging didn't allow for any movement during the shipment. Speaking of which, the X-Arcade arrived at my door in 2 days....and that's only because that Monday was a holiday. This was with their offer of free ground shipping yet! My only complaint was with Airborne who obviously decided my package wasn't important enough and let it sit on my front porch for over 2 hours in freezing temperatures without so much as a knock or a doorbell ring. Jerks. The stick features 9 face buttons, enough to support any of the major consoles. Button maps are avaialble with the included nstruction book. 2 buttons are featured on the side, just underneath the top panel. These serve their purpose of replicating a pinball machine accurately for whatever video pinball games you may have laying around. Another button on the back is for programming moves into the peripheral. 3 banks are available and can be set to any button. Adapters are available for various consoles from the PS2 to the Dreamcast. After pulling it's 10-pound frame from it's box and connecting my added PS One/PS2 adapter (which was also free!), I got to work with Street Fighter Colletion 2. It's amazing, but even with it's size, this stick is still perfect for placing on your lap. If it's too much, the rubber grips on the bottom should hold things in place on a sturdy table just fine. Just by holding it, you can feel how much care goes into making this stick. Some arcade machines don't feel this solid. Finally getting into the game, I noticed some problems. Most notably, the dragon-punch motion that is so familair with fighting game fanatics, is nearly imposible to pull off without some unhuman-like reflexes. Half-circles, 360's, and charge motions have never been easier. I have finally become deadly with Guile. Sadly, trying to make anything out of Ken and Ryu is an excersise in frustration. A quick change of games to Street Fighter Alpha 3 and then to King of Fighters '99 proves futile. I have no trouble controlling the combatants in Soul Calibur II, but it's not exactly what I bought the stick for either. A quick check of their website shows a way to make the stick a bit easier to use. By bending some of the metal contacts, response time becomes quicker. After doing so, the ratio of hit dragon punches to missed is better. Probably 3 out of 5 times at best compared to the one out of five previously. Still, not very good considering the price. However, my complaint is meager. The X-Arcade is meant to be taken apart and replaced with any arcade machine parts of your choosing (as evident by instructions on their site). After ordering a "competition stick" from HAPP (www.happcontrols.com), all things are forgiven. Moves come off without a hitch and the looseness of the included stick is gone. It would've been nice to maybe have the option of what type of stick you would want to be included depending on what you'll be using it with most, but the added price of a new stick is minor for the overall quality. If your not terribly into fighting games, the above complaints probably won't even affect you anyway. Playing Pac-Man is a snap with the 4-way controls (easily switched from 8 after opening the bottom panel). Playing MAME is actually fun now compared to my old, horribly innacurate, Gravis Pro. Also note their customer service is outstanding. I recieved an E-mail response within 12 hours with a professional answer to my question. No, I'm probably not any better a fighting games than I was previously thanks to the stick, but they are alot more fun to play. The price is certainly something that will keep this accessory in the hands of the hardcore, but you get what you pay for. You will NEVER get this quality from a generic stick bought off a store shelf. Better yet, this is the only stick you'll ever need as they promise to support all upcoming consoles. In theory, you'll save money in the long run. This is a must own, but fighting game fans need to be aware of the minor added cost to make their games more playable.

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