On the eve of the biggest Tekken clash of the year, check out these controllers that celebrate the Tekken World Tour!
A little while ago it was revealed that Bandai Namco and Qanba were teaming up to produce a pair of limited edition fight sticks in honor of the 2018 Tekken World Tour; these controllers are now out in the wild, and we had the opportunity to try them out for ourselves. Not only do they shine as collectibles for the hardcore Tekken fan, but as expected from Qanba, they are excellent controller options as well — for any fighting game, not just Tekken 7, of course! Both of these sticks are compatible with the PlayStation 3 and 4 consoles, and the Obsidian also has a PC setting.
The Tekken World Tour Edition of the Qanba Obsidian is no different than the original model (aside from the new panel art, of course), which I looked at in detail in my prior review. For the unfamiliar, the stick comes equipped with a square-gated Sanwa Denshi JLF lever, and Sanwa Denshi pushbuttons. It features aluminum case elements and LED lighting on the side panels. The new art (designed by Kaydie) is a bit unusual compared to what we’re used to for licensed panel art: rather than the usual Tekken promo artwork, it’s a spread of cute little pixel-art versions of the Tekken 7 cast. And it suits the sleek, clean design of the Obsidian perfectly. It adds a ton of personality to the stick’s look without overpowering its style, and it’s pretty much impossible to see the panel and not start hunting for your favorite fighters in the mix.
Having spent more time with this controller, there are a few practical points about it I’d like to revisit. I initially worried the stick would be too big and unwieldy to carry around at a tournament; I still feel that way, unless you have a decent stick bag — the combination of the two made the Obsidian my favorite event controller. I have since learned that it isn’t too difficult to change the panel artwork after all (not exactly relevant for this model, I would hope), but it is still tricky. My only operational complaint about the Obsidian is very minor: I would prefer a physical toggle switch for the LED setting. It can be switched between flashing for joystick and button inputs, flashing from vibration feedback signals, always-on, or turned off — and it would be nice to be able to lock your preferred setting (the input-flashes are the default setting, and it will always reset to that when the stick loses power).
The performance of the Sanwa Denshi components are well-known to be top-notch, provided you like their feel. The lever and/or buttons can be easily swapped out on the Obsidian with only a couple of screwdrivers. The responsiveness of the Obsidian PCB has scored well in past testing, generally showing less input latency than HORI models, though not as fast as Razer or Brook boards. The Obsidian has become a common sight in professional play.
The Qanba Drone is marketed as an entry-level, “discount” fight stick, with its small size being a selling point for the sake of portability. It lives up to this creed while actually still being a decent controller for fighting game play. The joystick and pushbuttons on the Drone are Qanba-made, not Sanwa Denshi like its big brother. However, for being arguably lower-grade components, they hold up alright in gameplay. The square-gated joystick feels very similar to a Sanwa JLF in terms of resistance, but the switches aren’t quite as sensitive as a JLF — it’s not quite as good at picking up light motions. I had to be more forceful than usual to get consistent dashes and sidewalking than on my usual stick. The buttons are a bit “clunkier” than Sanwa or HORI pushbuttons, but I found them to respond very well. I found using the Drone more comfortable than expected; it’s small and light, but not too small and light. I particularly like the textured, angled palm rest. Of course, if you don’t like the stock Qanba components, you can modify the Drone — but it isn’t designed for easy modding. Expect to bring out the soldering iron if you want to change the buttons and/or lever. It’s worth noting that the Drone does not have a touch pad, like most larger sticks (the Obsidian does).
The artwork on the TWT Drone is also not your typical promo art: it features the chibi “crying Heihachi” icon that has made its appearance on other Tekken merchandise and in-game customization items. It’s certainly eye-catching, and seems to suit the little fight stick well. Why is Heihachi crying? Because not enough of you are playing Tekken 7! Or maybe because his family hates him. Or both. It’s tough being a Mishima.
There are a few clever design elements that really show that the Drone is made for easy portability. The USB cable can be tucked right into an open compartment in the front of the stick’s case. And to help pop your Drone into your bag or backpack, you can remove the lever via a circular hatch on the base without having to open the entire controller case (you’ll still need a flat-headed screwdriver — or very strong fingernails).
Basically: it’s hard to go wrong with Qanba controllers these days. They’ve earned their spot as one of the top choices for arcade sticks on the current market. The Obsidian is a fantastic stick with only a few minor quibbles, as evidenced by its increasing popularity. The Drone is a great option for portability, and offers something with an entry-level price tag — though both sticks fall into what I would consider a reasonable price range for their build and performance. As limited editions, the TWT Edition Drone is a bit easier to find, while the Obsidian seems to already be getting scarce — head over to Newegg to grab a TWT Drone for $79.99 USD or a TWT Obsidian for $199.99 USD before they’re gone. I expect demand for these might spike a bit this weekend!
Now, get ready for some good-ass Tekken when the Tekken World Tour Global Finals kick off tomorrow!
Qanba USA provided Shoryuken with samples of the TWT Edition Obsidian and Drone controllers for the purpose of this review.