Lots of people play fighting games. Many are happy to use their standard control pads. But real fighting game enthusiasts insist on playing fighting games the way they were meant to be played: on an arcade-style joystick. And no stick I've ever played with has felt more like sitting at an actual arcade cabinet than the HORI Fighting Edge.
To start with, the Fighting Edge is a massive beast of a stick. With a base almost a foot by a foot and a half in size, it weighs nearly eight pounds. Unsurprisingly given its size, it is an incredibly sturdy stick as the base is made of heavy duty plastic with a thick transparent layer over the face of it. It is also very loud (for those of you who like that).
While past HORI sticks have used authentic Seimitsu arcade parts, this one uses HORI proprietary buttons and a stick HORI claims can send data faster in addition to lasting longer -- though my admittedly amateur skills noticed no difference. The Hayabusa stick lever itself has notches at all the diagonals but not on forward, back, left, and right -- a setup which makes it relatively easy to pull off a shoryuken. The buttons work just as well. They don't stick at all and are very responsive.
The Fighting Edge allows all the buttons on the stick to be re-mapped by using the touch panel located to the right of the stick and buttons. Also included on this touch panel are the start and select buttons as well as a button that locks the fighting stick into "tournament mode" where the touch panel and PS button are disabled to prevent accidental presses in a tournament setting.
The only problem I had with the stick was when I rested my hand on the touch panel in-between matches, I accidentally activated tournament mode. This left me unable to even pause the game and I had to look up how to turn it off during my next two loading screens.
I tested the Fighting Edge on my PS3 with Marvel vs Capcom 3, Gundam Extreme VS, Soul Calibur IV and X-Men Arcade (because it's the greatest arcade game ever made). I found the experience identical, if not better than, my time spent in the arcades.
And since the actual gameplay of the stick was so similar to the actual arcade, I found what really stood out to me were the cosmetic choices in the overall design. The hand rest, in particular, was very comfortable and let my fingers float in perfect position above the stick and buttons. Even after hours of playing, my arms weren't sore or tired in the least. And no matter how hard I pounded the stick or buttons, the Fighting Edge never moved thanks to the anti-slip pads on the underside of the unit. Also, like past HORI sticks, the Fighting Edge has a built-in storage bay for its ten-foot long USB cable when the stick is not in use.
To say I enjoyed my time with the Fighting Edge is an understatement. In the end, I'd go so far as to say that it felt better than playing in an arcade. Of course, with a price tag of $US199.99, this is as it should be. Frankly, if you are a competitive fighting gamer and like your stick to be massive, meaty, and designed for tournament play, this just might be the stick for you.