Accessory Review: PS2 ShadowBlade Arcade Stick

The ShadowBlade is one of those arcade sticks that does such a fine job of presenting itself, you almost want to overlook the fact that it barely works. Fans of charge-based characters will do fine; anyone looking to try and spurt out some fireball motions or dragon punches will be sorely disappointed. The ample frame of the ShadowBlade is nothing but a cover.

Resting your hands on the ShadowBlade is enough to give you false hope. The thick metal exterior, weight, and comfortable rubber pad underneath the buttons for your wrist all add up to an arcade stick that’s wonderful to use when your hands are at rest. Once into a battle, things don’t fare as well.

Most of the problems stem from the stick itself. The rubber pad near the bottom gives it a flight yoke-feel, which means accuracy is an issue. Fans of 3-D fighters or Street Fighter brawlers who take characters like Guile won’t have terrible issues, but they’ll still be stuck with missed moves on occasion. Charge and tapping motions are the only thing the ShadowBlade can handle with even mild accuracy.

When it comes to anything else, it fails miserably. Diagonals are foreign to this arcade stick, so anything from jumping forwards or backwards down to the complicated super moves are a lost cause. The softness of the sticks movement makes it difficult to judge when the direction has registered.

Buttons are nearly flat with the surface, and the same problem exists here. There’s little response from buttons. In fact, there is almost no effort required on the part of the player to push them down. It should work better, but instead, it only feels awkward and lacking the feel of a real arcade cabinet. Layout is also odd, with the four L & R triggers set on each side of the Playstation’s four face buttons, boxing them in.

The unique programming feature is one of the few highlights, allowing for adjustment of the response time from those buttons. The difference is negligible, if noticeable at all. Programming buttons is a simple process and it works (along with auto fire), but these standard features are available on almost any third party controller. The ShadowBlade isn’t worth buying for only minor convienence.

There are countless better alternatives out there, and it’s hard to justify this one in comparison. It’s easy to find a more accurate stick that will work on multiple consoles too (like the Pelican Real Arcade). There’s no justification for buying the ShadowBlade.

(* out of *****)

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