PowerA puts its best foot forward with its first foray into dedicated fighting game peripherals
FightPads have always been an interesting concept to me. Their goal is to blend the comfort and size of a traditional controller with the precision and functionality of an arcade stick. For the past couple of years, I have played fighting games exclusively using a variety of arcade sticks and found the few situations where I had to use a controller feeling alien, even though that’s where I started.
The PowerA FUSION Wired FightPad is my first dive into the FightPad experience and it has become the perfect bridge between the two control methods bringing me to the beginning of a brand new controller collecting addiction. Its comfortable, functional, and incredibly effective at nailing all of your inputs, no matter how technical.
If you have ever seen or used the Sega Saturn’s revised North American controller, the PowerA FUSION Wired FightPad should be familiar. PowerA makes it a point that the FUSION FightPad is inspired by the Saturn controller’s design. I’ve never used a Sega Saturn controller personally, but if this is similar to what came right out the box, fighting game players had one heck of a controller back in the day.
The FUSION FightPad is incredibly comfortable with its symmetrical body and strong form factor. Your hands can rest naturally underneath the curve of the shell protecting the triggers or firmly in a claw grip. The controller is mostly matte with glossy primary buttons. This keeps your grip in place while not being restrictive on moving between inputs.
The bumpers are curved to wrap around the shell of the controller and register an input wherever they are pressed, similar to the Xbox One controllers after their first revision with the headphone jack. The triggers have just enough of a curve to them to hook your finger in place and swing nicely like proper triggers. These aren’t just buttons in place of triggers which is my preferred design, regardless of how fast the input of basic buttons would be.
Every version of the FightPad is made to match the aesthetic and feel of other controllers on their respective console. It would have been easy enough to use the same shell for the PlayStation and Xbox versions since they have the same amount of auxiliary buttons, Options/Menu, and Share/Change View, but they made them unique to their platform, positioning and shaping the buttons to match their respective platform’s design.
That being said, there isn’t any touchpad integration in the PlayStation 4 version, so any titles that require its use as a button or its gestures will require another controller on hand to activate. These titles are far and few between, but it is something to note. The Nintendo Switch controller has one additional button for its share function, which could have been used on the PlayStation version as a touchpad button, but it would have thrown off the aesthetic PowerA is trying to achieve for something that would go underutilized.
Each controller comes with three magnetic faceplates that let players customize their controller’s look. The PlayStation 4 version comes with blue, white, and black, the Xbox One controller comes with black, white, and gray, and the Nintendo Switch edition comes with red, white, and gray. I enjoy the color choices available for the PlayStation and Nintendo Switch versions but would have loved a green option for the Xbox One controller to go along with the brand’s aesthetic.
It would also be awesome to have additional faceplates available for purchase, but this is most likely a logistical nightmare due to there being three unique shells that would need their own individual faceplate cutouts per pack. That being said, it might be worth PowerA’s while if they create themed faceplates that could be partnered with brands to take on part of the cost. PowerA is no stranger to licensed designs, (just look at their Nintendo Switch controllers) so themed faceplates for Street Fighter, Killer Instinct, or some other title could be possible.
The FUSION FightPad executes inputs very well for both 2D and 3D fighting games. The directional pad is incredibly smooth and can handle the most complex of inputs with ease. The directional pad doesn’t make any kind of click though so you will have to know how far you are moving your thumb without that kind of feedback. For some, this might be a deal-breaker, but the shape of the pad itself makes it pretty apparent how far your finger has traveled. Through my experience with the controller, I rarely put in any accidental inputs. No unintended jumping here.
I tested the controller with several titles, included but not limited to Street Fighter, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Samurai Shodown, BlazBlue, The King of Fighters, and Dead or Alive. I also used the pad in several retro and indie titles as well and it worked perfectly in each. Hadoukens, Shoryukens, and Flash Kicks are easy to activate. Complicated supers like ones involving full circles, quarter circles to half circles or half circles to forward inputs also activate properly without issue.
The six face buttons are made from ALPS action switches and require just the right amount of force to activate. They are well-sized and positioned so you can press multiple buttons at the same time. There is just enough space between the bumpers and triggers to rest your finger between them and activate whichever button you’d like without issue. The controller as a whole works great for fighting games and other genres as well. Platformers play considerably well with this fightpad and I will definitely continue to play Sonic titles with it.
There are two different switch mechanisms available on the FUSION FightPad. One allows you to change the input method of the directional pad. You can cycle between the directional pad, the left stick, and the right stick. Most games will work just fine with the directional pad setting, but it is nice to know you can switch between the three for menus that might require input from each.
The other switch allows you to swap the bumpers and triggers to either behave as they traditionally do or take advantage of the fact that R1 and R2 are also traditional action buttons, making the usual L1 and L2 now R3 and L3 inputs. This is nice for a few reasons. If you take advantage of the additional face buttons, your left hand can focus entirely on movement with your right hand taking over for all action inputs. Alternatively, you can play with the traditional layout for titles that benefit from it.
The headset port, while functional, seems a tad loose for microphone capabilities. While the headphone jack locks into place, it doesn’t do so at the level where the mic function is branded, so with a slight tug, your microphone will disconnect. Once you are aware of this, it doesn’t happen as often, but if you are the kind of person who moves their controller around a lot while you play, you might notice a disconnection. I tested this with multiple headsets and while the Razer Kraken stays in place a bit better than my Victrix Pro AF, the headphone jack still isn’t locked in at the mic function level so it will eventually slip out of place with enough motion without pushing it back in.
The removable, braided USB cable runs at 3 meters in length. It features a lock function that clips it in the controller and a breakaway cable towards the end that will disconnect the controller if the cable gets tripped over near the console. The lock is great for keeping the cable in place, but it might be a little too good at its job. The first few times I tried to remove the cable, I had a hard time removing it.
Pressing the side release buttons didn’t seem to unlock the cable at all and there was so much resistance that I was worried I was going to break the port. As long as you make sure to press in the lock buttons as you insert the controller it should lock properly and not at an angle. Also, with a slight back and forth motion instead of a straight tug, you shouldn’t have too much trouble removing it. The more I used it, the less difficult it has been to remove the cable. Know this ahead of time and you shouldn’t run into any issues!
The PlayStation 4 version is marketed as being compatible with PC and this is true for the most part. Steam registers the FightPad as a PS4 controller and it works flawlessly in Big Picture Mode. That being said, other PC game platforms like Xbox and Epic Games don’t register the controller properly. A workaround is available that requires you to open Big Picture Mode on Steam and then launch your off-Steam games through the platform to read the PS4 controller as a native gamepad.
Alternatively, you could download third party software like DS4Windows, but that’s quite an additional step for something meant to work out the box. If you play most of your games on Steam, this isn’t really a problem, but if you recently snagged Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection for free on the Epic Games Store, knowing a workaround will be necessary or go for the Xbox FightPad which will work with PC guaranteed. I haven’t used the Nintendo Switch version but I am sure it is in a similar situation also requiring a PC workaround.
The FUSION FightPad fits nicely between the HORI Fighting Commander and the Razer Raion when it comes to price. The Fighting Commander runs at $39.99, the FUSION FightPad is $59.99, and the Raion sits at $99.99. While $59.99 may seem steep for a wired controller, you can’t deny the quality the FUSION FightPad is built with. The ability to change faceplates is also a nice feature that sets it apart from its competition.
All in all, the PowerA FUSION Wired FightPad is an absolute delight, providing excellent control in an incredibly comfortable package. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting a solid fightpad that takes a tried and true design and makes it even better.
- Comfortable form factor and balanced weight make it great to hold and use.
- The directional pad is buttery smooth and responds well to intricate inputs.
- Action buttons are well-sized and spaced making unintentional presses less likely.
- Comes with three faceplates for color customization.
- Fantastic bumpers and triggers make it great for other game genres like platformers and beat ’em ups.
- Headphone jack feels loose, if tugged slightly, the audio will still play on your headset but the microphone function can cut off.
- No touchpad functionality for the PlayStation 4 version.
- No additional faceplates are available for purchase. (Yet)
- Requires workaround to use on other PC storefronts. (Epic, Xbox, etc.) (PS4 version)
- The USB cable can be difficult to remove, requires a strong pinch and a side to side motion.
The PowerA FUSION Wired FightPad can be purchased on Amazon and through PowerA’s official webpage for $59.99.
PowerA provided Shoryuken with the FUSION Wired FightPad for PlayStation 4 for this review.