A joystick that can provide exactly the amount of resistance you want.
When it comes to controller modification, aesthetics get a lot of attention — but what primarily matters to the player is, as Arcade Shock puts it, “user experience.” The levers that are most predominant in factory-made arcade sticks today are the ubiquitous Sanwa Denshi JLF (used in Razer and Qanba’s products, and any stick that is marketed as “professional” quality) and the HORI Hayabusa (the automatic inclusion in all of HORI’s full-size fightsticks). These levers share a great deal in common: at stock specs, both are square-gated, ball-topped, and offer about the same degree of spring resistance — with the Hayabusa being marginally looser than a standard Sanwa JLF. This is the typical Japanese arcade-style model.
For those players that didn’t start their fighting game training on Japanese sticks, they may have grown used to the significantly higher-tension levers used in North American arcade units, or the Korean Crown models renowned for being the sticks to play Tekken on. For those that crave some more “oomph” in their lever, Arcade Shock commissioned this lever kit from Seimitsu. It is at first glance a very typical Japanese lever, but by including five different springs to modify the lever’s resistance, a user can dramatically alter the feel of playing on this stick. Arcade Shock provided us one to try out exactly that.
Custom springs aren’t anything new, but the Seimitsu LS-56-01-AS kit makes the process easier by shipping with five different springs of various stiffness, ready to go. This streamlines the process significantly, as rather than hunting down different tensions to try, you have a wide range of resistance available to try out for yourself immediately, and see what suits your taste.
You can see the range data on the scale above; Arcade Shock includes the comparable tensions of other Seimitsu models. The softest is 0.4 lbf (pounds of force), ranging through 0.9 lbf (the default spring, already installed in the lever), and 1.12 lbf, up to a some really stiff ranges : 2 lbf and 4 lbf, well above typical for Japanese levers. The stick comes packed with a basic black shaft cover, dust cover, and balltop (but Sanwa Denshi/HORI balltops are also compatible, if you want to swap colors), and a very ordinary square gate (that can also be replaced by a differently-shaped restrictor, if desired). They also include some extra C-clips because — you know it — these things are bound to break or go missing when they fly across the room.
To swap the springs out, you need to pop that C-clip off the shaft (a flat-tipped screwdriver or a pair of pliers usually serves that purpose well) and pull the shaft assembly apart, just like on most levers. That takes a bit of caution and practice — you want to be careful to not damage the C-clip while making sure the shaft assembly doesn’t just spill apart on you. The spring sits around the shaft itself right in the middle of the assembly.
Because there isn’t an “easy” way to swap springs, finding the tension you actually like can prove a bit of a chore, as you need to extract the spring from this assembly each time you want to try something else. The joystick will mount perfectly into the bracket used by a Sanwa or HORI lever with no modification, but because of how tricky it can be to get that spring in/out, I recommend deciding what tension you want to use before you mount the lever in your fightstick case.
Installation note: while the five-pin connector is reversed from the HORI/Sanwa setting, the lever should still be oriented facing the same way to ensure the switch directions are still matched up.
So, installation aside, how does it feel? In my (highly subjective!) comparisons, the softer tensions are comparable to most Japanese sticks; 0.4 lbf feels as loose or even a little lighter than a stock Hayabusa, while 0.9-1.12 lbf covers the Sanwa Denshi JLF range, and slightly stiffer. The 2 lbf and 4 lbf springs are the really interesting ones. The 2 lbf feels comparable to those solid bat-topped arcade sticks I grew up with before Mad Catz brought the JLF to North America, or a Crown; while the 4 lbf is a monster, however — definitely a spring for players that really want their stick to feel solid. I found the 4 lbf spring actually tiring to manipulate and play on (and a bit tricky to install, too!).
Is this lever kit for you? It has a lot going for it: even before the swappable springs, it’s a solid and comfortable Seimitsu lever. When you factor in the extra springs and the reasonable cost — $29.95 USD — this is a very attractive package if you’re in the market for a new lever. Head over to Arcade Shock to check it out. The tension your lever provides can make a big difference in your game — one of the reasons stiffer joysticks are preferred by many for Tekken titles, due to their quick return-to-neutral-position response. This lever kit accomplishes exactly what it was intended for, and is definitely worth a look.
- Included spring selection provides a great range of different tensions
- Immediately compatible with any five-pin fightstick setting and other brands’ accessories
- Reasonable price
- Spring installation/swapping isn’t any easier than a regular lever