Hands-On With Hori’s Fighting Edge Arcade Stick

By on June 24, 2012 at 7:38 pm

I, like many others, felt only desire when first laying eyes on the Hori Fighting Edge. First unveiled on Wednesday Night Fights, this beast of a fight stick boasts features that both innovate and excite. But do they live up to their promise, and is the Hori Fighting Edge worth the investment?

Hori was kind enough to send one over for me to try, so I wanted to share my early thoughts on it with you. This isn’t as much of a formal review as it is a quick hands-on. I won’t be tearing the stick apart to see how it works, and I won’t be looking into art and part modifications. If you are interested in that kind of information, I highly suggest you check out ShinJN’s review.

First and foremost, you will notice that the Fighting Edge is a beast of an arcade stick. This thing is huge. It measures nearly 19 inches across and just over 11 inches back. It is also fairly hefty, weighing in at nearly 8lbs. Convenient handles are located under the LED strips to assist you in carrying the stick around, but not many of your existing stick carry bags are going to be large enough for the Fighting Edge. A player who travels by airplane fairly often may want to consider this as a negative, as they’ll need extra room in their bags for this monster.

The second thing I noticed is definitely my least favorite feature of the Fighting Edge. While the blue LED strips look amazing in photos, I found them to be incredibly distracting the moment I used the innovative touch panel to put the stick into tournament mode (which locks the start, select/back, and program keys). I went straight back to the included instructions to try to figure out how to turn the LEDs off. To do so, you simply hold the button to engage tournament mode a bit longer until you hear additional beeps. This may not annoy everyone the way it does me, but you’ll be happy to know either way that they can be turned off.

Finally, it was time to actually try to coveted new Hayabusa arcade stick and Kuro buttons included in the Fighting Edge. Most sticks come with Sanwa sticks and buttons these days, and in the past, Hori’s imitation parts really didn’t live up to the expectations set by Sanwa. Now, with help from long time fighting game execution master Sakonoko, Hori has created a stick and buttons to compete with Sanwa (and Seimitsu).

As a long time Sanwa user, I felt right at home on the Hayabusa stick and Kuro buttons. The stick is extremely responsive and even the most gentle gestures were read perfectly. I even asked a number of the local fighting game players here to test it out, and everyone had positive things to say. We all spent time in training mode practicing difficult combos with the Fighting Edge and had no complaints. The buttons also feel really responsive, but for me, they didn’t stand out over the Sanwa alternative. Hori boasts that these buttons cut wear and tear by 60%, rattle less due to less spacing between the housing and button, and minimize vibrations from button pressing for a softer feel. All of this may very well be true, but I wasn’t able to really feel a difference while playing.

The last feature I want to talk about is the button remapping the touch panel on the Fighting Edge offers. This feature is a little clumsy, but is functional in allowing you to remap the function of any button without opening and rewiring them. If you play with an unorthodox button configuration, it might be nice to remap the buttons on the Fighting Edge so that you can simply play with the “default” configuration in-game. Sadly, this isn’t going to replace the need for button checks at tournaments, as you have no way of knowing if the last player who was using that setup was using the “default” in-game button configuration as well. On top of that, what if you play multiple titles and have different configurations for each? This will only add to your confusion when trying to match your remapping to the insanely bad in-game button configs that most of our favorite games offer today. I ended up looking at this and thinking, “cool feature, but I won’t use it.”

The Fighting Edge comes with a nicely sized compartment to store its cord in, as well as an extra compartment for whatever nefarious item you should choose. It worked on my Windows 7 PC right out of the box, which is great news for PC gamers. The only things really missing from the Fighter Edge are a stick select toggle (in case you should want or need to use the Hayabusa stick as a left or right analog stick replacement) and turbo functions. This piece of gear is clearly designed with the tournament player in mind, as it is doubtful that such a person would need those features. But even if I don’t regularly use turbo functions or the stick toggle, they are still nice to have in case I decide to use my arcade stick on a non-fighting game, like a beat-em-up or a shmup. I also want to mention how sexy the Fighting Edge looks. Many of the arcade sticks released in the last few years look and feel like toys. The Fighting Edge, however, looks like a serious piece of equipment; hardware meant truly for a professional.

Will you take the plunge on the Hori Fighting Edge when it releases tomorrow for $199.99? If you choose to do so, and you can find a way to fit it in your bags for use at EVO, enjoy looking way cooler than most of the rest of us. My experience with the Fighting Edge has been very good, and I can only hope that the interesting features and Hayabusa joystick make it into a smaller unit at some point in the future.

If you do end up getting one, please let us know in the comments what you think.