Hori Fighting Edge Review : 2014
First Published 2nd April 2013.
Addendum added 11th April 2014
Can you really review something after 30 mins? Now that I’ve had the stick for a year, something’s been bugging me, and I kept picking up the stick during sessions and then as soon as I went back to a sanwa I felt like I was rowing a boat. Why? Because of the smaller throw, the smaller distance between switch and stick, meaning less effort. I’m still not going to change my final recommendation for the tournament player, which is not to buy it, however I’m going to add that the professional gamer who can utilise a precision tool and values the saving of energy should definitely look into this stick; while fast enough not to be clawing onto every frame you might lose in latency. The average player should love this stick, huge bling board that doubles as a bodyguard, mash away with no fear.
The unfortunate problem for me (which certainly doesn’t apply to everyone) is that the arcade I frequent uses Sanwa and I need time to re-adjust, if this wasn’t the case, and when arcades die out, I’ll be sticking with the Hayabusa. I’m still not hot on the button layout, still not convinced about the tournament mode being lag free with all that fancy jiggery pokery in between and Seimitsu buttons are still definitely my favourite but that base size and again, the Hayabusa stick, are definitely things I’ll be investing in. The white version is now out and still won’t fit in my bag.
FAIR, FACTUAL & FREE (FROM BIAS)
By the end of this review I’ll probably never get another free review stick from Hori again. But that’s ok, I will still have my journalistic integrity intact. We will not be bought off. We will not sell out!
Hey Madcatz and Razr, psst, you can send us a stick for review… we’ll be nice :p
You may remember when we reviewed the Hori VX SA, giving it a fair review, with criticisms. Up against a few other sticks at the time, it went on to win the Orochinagi King of Sticks R1 award.
I met up again with Iain from Hori at Super Versus Battle in December and he kindly agreed to send Orochinagi a Fighting Edge for review. Kudos to Hori for doing this, knowing full well that we will criticise any faults we find.
We were due to put it head to head with the Mad Catz newer models and the Razr beta at WGC 2013, however, MCZ became a sponsor, making it “awkward” to talk about other brands on the stream. They supported the event so promoting another brand in their face is hardly fair.
At any rate, that’s over with. Let’s get down to tearing the FE apart! I mean, er, reviewing it! It’s now three months since release so we can also talk about longevity and reactions from the FGC.
As per the usual inspection, we’ll look at: Appearance, Buttons, Stick, Layout, Case, Modability, Latency and Price.
Well, just look at it.
“One of the sleekest arcade sticks ever made” Press Start News
Have you ever been to someone’s house where they have a grand piano sitting by the window, or saw one in one of those upmarket hotel lobbies or a random movie?
Your typical grand piano has a black glossy shine, and takes a pro to make it sound good. However, anyone can have a grand piano, and it just looks good. Having one in your house is a sign of wealth and culture.
Having a Fighting Edge gives off a similar signal: it means you have cash and you know which sticks make people jealous!
We can guarantee when you take the FE out of the box, you will be almost afraid to touch it because you know your fingerprint will immediately ruin its sleek plexi glass cover.
The cover is plain black, the buttons are black (unless you have the xbox version), and we all know black is the sexiest, sleekest colour. Complemented with the silver FE logo, it’s akin to looking at a Lambourghini in the showroom.
“super simple, sexy and with style…” Neopenny
However! The six large bolts that keep the stick together detract from the ultimate sleek factor. With these, Hori have made it easy to open the stick but this compromise stops you running your hand over the case as if it were the hips of a fine lady.
Then we come to the touch panel and neon lights.
Instead of physical buttons for start and select/back, there is a touch panel, which is very uhhh slick? Here you can also configure your buttons and switch between the light modes.
“the neons are just fancy and useless” Vermine SBR
The FE features a mode where a strip of neon on the left and right side light up.
Some people have commented that it’s great for playing in the dark – we would advise to never play in the dark due to the risk of eye strain.
Does it look great in the dark? Yes.
Is it useful? What a silly question.
Do neon lights look good on cars? Yes. Are they useful? Of course not. Unless you think impressing people is useful.
“Chicks are going to dig it when they come to your house” G4TV
We actually found the lights to be too bright and somewhat distracting, especially if you have the damage mode on, where if you get hit, the lights flash red! Infamous Japanese player Tokido came to mind, imagine him using the shining light to blind his opponent before smacking them over the head and taking the round :p
Jokes aside, it’s almost laughable that if you were to turn on the lights, you could easily just leave the stick on display and just have people drool over it. It’s quite the mantle piece. The question you need to ask yourself is whether you are buying a premium stick to improve your playing experience or just to show off?
The FE comes packaged with a cloth, and with good reason. While it’s debatable that the stick is a ‘chick magnet’, what’s not debatable is that it attracts fingerprints like flowers attract bees. You will need to wipe this honeypot of a stick very regularly!
For various reasons, we prefer the xbox peripherals but the FE for the 360 has the absolutely garish 4 coloured button scheme, totally ruining the image of the dark beast. The PS3 is all black and has a distinct advantage (in appearance only – but more on that later).
Buttons and Stick
As you’ve probably heard by now, Hori has laid down the challenge to the undisputed leaders of the button market – Sanwa (Seimitsu comes a close second of course) with their brand new button, titled Kuro. Not the most imaginative name, as it seems to merely mean black. To the average person, it just feels like a button. It makes clicking noises as any other, not particularly quiet, while not having that sharp sound of a switch being jammed. The impact is a little softer but no comparison to the Sanwa silent buttons. On their video review, you can hear Zhi (Cross Counter Asia) comment that he found the buttons “quite quiet” while Xian is making rather audible clacking sounds while using the FE to play Street Fighter…
Sound aside, the buttons certainly work. But for how long? Hori were proud to announce that the buttons were made to “Cut wear and tear by 60% – Offers the Highest Quality”. Unfortunately, this claim seems to be falling flat as three months after release we have verified at least two reports of Hori buttons dropping inputs and needing replacement (two local players and one on the SRK forums).
Note: Replacement? Let’s quickly point out that there is no way at this moment to buy Kuro buttons or the stick. The people that needed replacements had to use a different brand.
“Waiting to see how they are going to deal with separate parts” Frionel
Comparatively, while I’ve seen more Sanwa buttons failing at tournaments, which could be due simply to more players using Sanwa in general, I’ve yet to see a failure with my Seimitsu buttons, after 9 months of heavy play.
By the way, I had a quick go with the Razr Beta. As Pharaon from Maxmode would say “The buttons suck!”
And one of the RAZR beta testers took a real shine to my seimitsus. Take note Razr, take note.
“a combination of Sanwa and Seimitsu” Iplaywinner
Back to talking about longevity, let’s not forget that certain players hit their buttons with a lot more force than others… are you the type to go mental on your grand piano?
“almost no dead angle with a clean sharp “click” Vermine SBR
And it’s now time to point out how these buttons and stick were designed with the consultation of Sako. Who is Sako? Sako is a Japanese player, and at time of writing seems to be Hori’s only sponsored player. Here’s a video of him demonstrating the FE with Cammy and Ibuki.
Note that Sako wasn’t consulted for advice on how to make the FE perfect for games in general, rather he gave advice to make it perfect for him to win at Street Fighter. He needed one particular feature that would enable him to link moves together. It’s called plinking, which uses the light punch button to link other moves. However, the method was since improved to involve the Back button of the xbox, which meant he could then link light punches too, thus the method was now called Blinking. The FE allows this without ripping out wires with an ingenious touch panel. There you can switch button functions around without going to the in game menu, including the back button, which is so far impossible in-game. For Street Fighter players, especially Cammy and Ibuki lovers, this feature gives them a definite edge and is unique in the stick market right now.
However, there is a distinct difference between xbox and playstation models. The xbox model, apparently due to Microsoft restrictions, will not allow you to re-assign functions to the coloured buttons. Plinkers and Blinkers won’t mind this as they use the 7th and 8th buttons anyway but it feels like a horrible restriction, especially if you’re a KOF player wanting a 2×2 layout without having to go to the in game menu.
You will find the tension of the stick is stronger than the Sanwa and more loose than a Seimitsu. It really is in between.
Touch panel issues
Note that the start and select/back buttons are on the touch panel and can be disabled in tournament mode, theoretically making it impossible to be disqualified. In general, this seems to be fine, however, in practice, it appears some of those big old gaijin hands do go wandering…
“I accidentally activated tournament mode” Kotaku
Neopenny, amongst others, noted how if your fingers are sweaty, the touch panel won’t respond.
“Also I remember people complaining about how bad the stick’s diagonal inputs are” Professor, Mad Man’s Cafe
Now, while the buttons don’t really seem that different in feel, the lever has a definitive difference. Upon first having a go, I felt the lever grind into the socket, as if I hadn’t properly changed gear whilst driving – such a horrible sound. This was because I wasn’t used to the smaller ‘dead space’ between stick and switch. Getting used to it would be advised as it means less time needed to hit those inputs and every advanced player knows those milliseconds count. While this is great, it also means that you will be in trouble should you need to play on another stick…
The FE continues to match the Vewlix Arcade layout, with one difference, the distance between the buttons and lever have increased, in response to feedback from players, just like the HRAP Kai. Edit: this is apparently to match the Namco Noir layout.
Most players will have no issue with it but there are those, myself included, that prefer even more distance with the default buttons being set in the middle of the eight and the curve in the layout going up on the 3rd column to reflect that.
As pointed out, the FE uses that weird xbox “3×1” layout which doesn’t even match KOF or the default controller. It’s horrible but the blame will lay with Microsoft and their requirements. Luckily it’s quite easy to move the buttons, all you need is an alan key – have a read in the modding section.
The FE is big. So big it’s going to be difficult to travel with it. Would you travel with a grand piano? Right, I won’t mention those big glossy instruments any more!
The case contains not one but two compartments, one for your 3 metre (!) cable and one for your cloth… seems a lot for a cloth, but you could put a spare button in there (if they were available).
“not everyone wants cartoon characters on everything they have … so this is a good alternative” G4TV
Interestingly, there seems to be some sort of factory hiccup with the FE being shipped with a compartment door that isn’t hinged properly (also happens on the CC Asia video review). There are other reports of the door falling off, but this is minor, whichever way you look at it. But it also makes you wonder if it’s worth taking this thing out of the house…. all that money you spent on it…
The stick weight is surprisingly light for its size, at 3.5 kg, it’s lighter than the Qanba at 4.1 kg and heavier than the MCZ SFxTekken Pro at 2.3 kg.
It features a neat handle which is integrated into the design, rather than making the stick look like a briefcase (ahem Qanba), which is great for running between tournament setups – saying that, if you were carrying it for longer periods of time, the briefcase handle would be more comfortable.
Hori have been learning from the competition and the FE features non slip pads on the underside, making it super steady to play with. The material is an interesting solid feeling material, rather than felt material based, which was a problem with the Qanba model, as it degraded and peeled over time.
Last thing to say, you can turn the neon lights completely off. Phew.
Packing this thing into a bag is a pain, firstly because of its size and secondly because of the stick poking out.
Interestingly, Vermine of SignedbyR.com has modified his stick so he could slide it into a bag without fuss, using the quick link. You can pull off the stick with a hefty tug and pop it into your pocket. It’s a nice touch and convenient for travelling.
As pointed out earlier, there are six ugly bolts that can be unfastened to allow you to open the FE and replace buttons and stick.
As you can see, there is simply a layer of plexiglass on the top so all you need to do is quick disconnect the buttons and pop them out (they are snap ins). The stick has a plug so don’t worry about any soldering, so once that is also removed you can easily put any artwork you want. It’s very very easy. If only the bolts were flush, but of course this would no doubt add more to the production cost, compared to drilling simple holes. Still, this is a grand…. er, premium stick! We’re already paying a high price, we should get the very best for our money.
This also means it’s easy to fix that horrible layout.
The balltop has the same screw hole as the Sanwa so you can swap it out without problem too.
“Not a multiplatform controller” G4TV
As for dual modding…. ehhhh that’s something that’s been trickier as the switches are connected to the touchpanel… Can’t say it’s an easy job as far as I can see but some modders have simply bypassed the internal board and just shoved in another pcb, albeit losing the touchpanel functions.
In other words, lag.
I love this part because so far, I’ve never had to rig up these sticks to transistors and whatnot because some clever Japanese person has already done it. Perhaps the day that I get a stick on release date will leave me in a pickle, but until then I can sit back and watch a video. You may remember the last tests that we referred to and how the PS3 version of the HRAP SA lagged behind the Xbox version. It’s not hating, it’s just fact. Tests have been done with the PS3 and Xbox version of the FE. Well guess what system had lag? No you don’t get a prize and it actually irritates me because I knew that adding extra features to an input system was asking for trouble. They took away the turbo feature, great! Then they added a touch panel, which redirects inputs- what were they thinking? Why even endanger that input signal? WHY?
Videos of the tests can be studied but to summarise, both FE sticks lagged in comparison to the HRAP VX, which is still the king of sticks right now and is popular amongst the Japanese. Messing around with inputs using switches, and that includes dual modding, is asking for trouble. If anything, in terms of input latency, the 360 FE is superior to the PS3.
“beauty comes with a price” The Verge
“I think it’s quite cheap for $200… I mean, the lights, the touchpanel…” Zhi (Crosscounter Asia)
It’s $199 in the US, €199 in EU and £179 in the UK. Suffice to say, it’s very expensive, fairly exclusive and there are currently only 7 in stock on Amazon UK, certifying its status as a collector’s item.
Are you willing to pay that amount of money for some lights???? Well ok, that and a good b linking feature? Let’s not forget that 199 USD is £131… won’t make a difference when you add on shipping though. Personally, I think it’s insane and certainly wouldn’t invest that amount of money into a piece of plastic, no matter how glossy. (Yes, I did buy a beatles Gretsch Rock Band controller, but only when it was on offer at half price!)
“I give the Fighting EDGE an overall rating of 10/10.” Alex Valle
“Good alternative for people who aren’t comfortable with other manufacturers’ material.” Frionel
“quality… is on par with Sanwa, it’s an interesting alternative.” Neopenny
For the tournament player, we would not recommend it! It’s huge, it’s shiny, the buttons aren’t lasting as long as claimed, it needs lots of cleaning and it’s weird to get used to! On the other hand, if you’re a hardcore fighter, you may well appreciate the reduced throw on the stick, remember this is the only stick with the Hayabusa lever at time of print, giving you a split second advantage over other players. Saying that, you may have difficulty adapting back to other sticks such as in the arcade or as in the case of when it’s not possible to bring this beast to a friend’s house. There is certainly a price to pay for excellence. The average player on the other hand will not care about these issues and have a blast bashing away on their favourite fighter, in tip top style.
The PS3 version again suffers from accusations of latency.
For the p/blinking specialist, it’s quite the necessary tool, it will truly give you a definite fighting edge in Street Fighter. Can’t say the same for other games (apart from the reduced throw in general).
For the bling wearing, spotlight stealing, e-sports mega star, there really isn’t another stick that will make jaws drop and eyes turn green like this one.
It’s arguably a matter of style that only appears over substance, with real actual substance lurking beneath the glossy black exterior – but only the high level players are going to be able to utilise the veritable horse power of this engine.
Where to buy
So it’s like I wouldn’t buy one, but I’m damn happy Hori gave me one *hugs stick* NO YOU CAN’T HAVE IT, IT’S MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE.
Here are some more … interesting quotes that I didn’t get to use.
“a massive beast of a stick” Kotaku
“it’s quite easy” Xian, talking about doing Gen’s hands on the FE (Crosscounter Asia)
“it felt better than playing in an arcade” Kotaku
With thanks to
and Professor from MMCAFE
References and sources for photos:
G4TV Review <—– BEST REVIEW EVER
http://basgrospoing.fr/ Nice FE photo
http://bigtradeup.com/ Chad’s Grand Torino
Hori Grail review by Cross Counter Asia
Freestep Dodge – Datel /Paewang Stick
Mega’s First Impressions opening the stick