Product: MadCatz Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Wii U Arcade Edition Fightstick S
“HERE COMES ANOTHER CHALLENGER!!”
Ahem. Excuse me, I got a bit carried away there. But there is a new entrant to the Console Wars tournament: Nintendo’s (almost) brand new curio, the Wii U. And despite the fact that there is only one dedicated fighting game for the new unit, Mad Catz have already laid on a mostly magnificent arcade stick – tied in with Namco Bandai’s stellar launch port of Tekken Tag Tournament 2. So instead of having to use the GamePad or other unwieldy methods of control, you now get to become the King of Iron Fist using a stick comprised of the King of Arcade Stick Parts – I am talking of course about Sanwa Denshi, non arcade-cab aficionados.
Once you get it out of the superbly illustrated, fancy cardboard packaging and remove the squeezable foam bookend thingies, you discover that this Tournament Edition “S” stick is a beautiful, heavy-feeling, lovingly-crafted beast. Go on, touch it. Mmmm. Feels nice, right? The base is weighty and feels expensive; modelled to mimic the business end of one of the mind blowing Namco Noir HD arcade cabinets, the unit features the usual ultra-responsive Sanwa stick and 30mm buttons – just as any Japanese-inspired stick should do. Unlike the recent Soul Calibur or Street Fighter sticks, this beauty is decorated in a rather minimalist style, with a mostly black top featuring a little Tekken logo in one corner, a Wii U in the other, and a badass bullet-shattered glass motif, with the yellow ball-top emerging from the centre of the bullethole. Yeah! The yellow stick and buttons reminded me instantly of that classic arcade stick of yore, the legendary yellow and grey Namco Arcade Stick, so before I had even tried it my mind was already made up that this was an awesome bit of kit. And it is – for the most part.
As an arcade stick this does everything you can ask of it, and more. Without tinkering around with the multiple turbo options and configuration options, this stands alone as an excellent arcade fight stick. Obviously, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was the only actual Wii U game I was able to test out on it – but let’s not forget the good ‘ol Nintendo Wii, which was home to Tatsunoko vs Capcom (which had its own stick, don’t forget) and a plethora of Virtual Console titles – many of which would work a treat with this lovely stick. As it goes, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 plays a treat with this super-accurate stick, and it makes gameplay even more satisfying and arcade-like when you use the yellow ball of joy to rack up an insane juggle combo.
For those not au-fait with fighting sticks, they aren’t the most portable devices at the best of times. Unless you are able to balance it on your knees (which some cats get down with, but just ain’t my bag), it works best on a flat surface, which for me usually means a chair placed in front of me. You could also use a dinner tray, or ask a friend or manservant to kneel down at your convenience and rest it on their back.
Being a Wii/Wii U device, the stick needs to connect to a Wiimote in order to function, and there is a lead that enables you to do so stored in a handy removable-panel storage space on the rear of the unit. This sounds genius, and for a minute I thought I had an unencumbered, wire-free fighting stick on my hands – “You… you CAN STORE THE REMOTE IN THE SECRET COMPARTMENT!” – but, alas, the little orifice just isn’t big enough to slot a controller in there, so you are left with the Wiimote dangling on the end of the lead, like some kind of sorry, motion-sensing tail. Pah.
VERDICT: If Mad Catz produce a better stick – aesthetically and in pure functionality – than this one in the lifetime of the Wii U, then fair play to them. This is an awesome piece of machinery and right up there with your Horis and your authentic arcade cabs. There are literally no flaws with the performance of the unit – it is among the best sticks I have had the pleasure of using. The whole connectivity element is a bit of a mess – sure, it is nice to be able to tuck your wires away after play, but if they had just made that gap a teensy bit bigger you could have avoided the whole dangly remote business. But hey – it’s nearly wireless. Another triumph for Mad Catz, then – now lets see some more fighters for Wii U so I can really put it to the test….