While other hardware manufacturers focus on releasing high-quality arcade fight sticks that follow the same basic formula, Nyko allows players to change everything with the Free Fighter, a $US179.999 programmable fighting game controller with a singular look and a unique modular design.
Though it features the same Sanwa Denshi parts all the arcade stick kids are raving about these days, Nyko's Free Fighter is a far cry from those flat rectangles that have been slowly becoming the standard for costly fighting game controllers over the years. A more slender design that barely contains its eight face buttons, this sexy little monster's coolest feature is the ability to separate the stick bit from the button bit.
Why would you do that? Say you're left-handed. Just disconnect the joystick, move it to the other side, and reconnect. Say you're making your own custom arcade cabinet. Disconnect the two pieces, connect them with a cable, and you're free to do what you want any old time. The Free Fighter is fully programmable, with two variable turbo buttons and four macro buttons, yet thanks to a kill switch on the bottom of the unit it's still tournament-legal.
And it feels nice. Its smaller profile is grippier than one might have imagined on top of an E3 meeting room table, and the unit will ship with a transforming base that expands to serve as a rest for even the most expansive laps.
Nyko is pretty brave to be releasing a new breed of fight stick in a market already dominated by the likes of Mad Catz and Hori, especially with the Free Fighter only slated for release on the PlayStation 3 this September, but who knows? Maybe there's room in the market for something different.