Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 review

Is the Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 the controller of choice?

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Great build quality

  • +

    Customisable buttons/design

  • +

    Screwdriver and compartments

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Only works with KI on Xbox One

  • -

    No headset input

  • -

    No flashing buttons

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Is it worth investing in a high-end fight stick for Xbox One? Find out in our Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 review

Xbox One fighting game fans don't have a lot of arcade sticks to choose from. Perhaps more importantly, they don't have a lot of fighting games to choose from either - there's only Killer Instinct available at this point, with only Killer Instinct Season 2 coming down the line.

Regardless, Mad Catz has created the Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 for Xbox One - a tournament-grade fighting stick, with high-end components, a modifiable design, and a premium price tag. Is it worth dropping £200 on? Let's find out.

Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2: Design

If Mad Catz's Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 looks familiar, then it's because it is - it's practically identical to the Killer Instinct Arcade FightStick that was released alongside the Xbox One in November 2013.

However, that stick quickly sold out, and now fetches a high premium on online auction sites, so the Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 has taken its place.

The controller is a hefty peripheral, coming in at over 40cm wide and weighing in at over 3.4kg. Despite this, it's designed to be carried around using a separate Shoulder Strap accessory, which features an adjustable length and padded cushioning.

However, we weren't supplied this accessory for the review, nor could we find it anywhere to buy online (including on Mad Catz's official site).

The stick itself boasts the same layout as most other fighting sticks - the difference here is in the quality of the parts. The stick and buttons are made by Sanwa, the Tokyo, Japan-based company that supplies parts for the country's still-popular arcade cabinets.

Fighting game aficionados swear by Sanwa gear, as it's responsive and hard-wearing, tending to last years even under intense use. Here, the Sanwa joystick and OBSF-30 buttons just feel right - any arcade aficionado will definitely appreciate the quality on offer here.

The controller also includes a compartment for tucking away the USB cable, as well as a foam padded base, which helps keep the unit in place on your knees or a flat surface.

Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2: Setup

Setup of the Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 couldn't be simpler - connect it to your Xbox One via the included USB cable, and you're good to go. It's a wired controller, which limits your freedom of movement slightly, but professional players will prefer the dependability of a wired connection over wireless, so it's a good design choice.

Like all other Xbox controller cables, the cord snaps if you accidentally trip over it, so you won't bring the Xbox One console or the controller crashing to the ground.

One of the best features of the Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 is how customisable it is.

While the Sanwa stick and buttons are excellent, there's still a chance they'll break, or you may just want to try out different parts. The fightstick comes with a hex/flat screwdriver, so that you can open up the controller and replace or repair the buttons or stick, print out your own artwork, or store other tools.

Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2: Compatibility

As the product's full name suggests, the Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 for Xbox One is compatible with one console and one console only. While it will technically work with any games controlled with a D-pad, it's intended use is fighting games only.

As there's only one fighting game on the system right now in the form of Killer Instinct, its use is fairly limited at this stage. While there will undoubtedly be more fighting games released on the Xbox One during its lifespan, the fighting genre isn't as popular as it once was.

Injustice Gods Among Us came out on PS4 but not Xbox One, Tekken X Street Fighter looks to have been canned, and the Street Fighter 4 series, arguably the most popular fighting game of the last ten years, looks to be staying on Xbox 360.

For this reason, the Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 is a difficult product to recommend unless you really, really like Killer Instinct. And while KI a good fighting game, there aren't many people who are fanatical enough about it to spend £200 on it, let alone £400 for two units to play with friends.

Given the Xbox One's highly limited library of fighting games, we'd have liked the Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 to be compatible with other consoles such as the Xbox 360, but sadly it's not.

To be fair, this not Mad Catz's fault - it's a compatibility issue on a hardware level that's down to Microsoft, but it's a shame as the Xbox 360 in particular has an excellent catalogue of fighting games including Street Fighter IV, Virtua Fighter 5 Online and Mortal Kombat.

If you're a PC owner, future compatibility with that is likely, as Microsoft recently released Windows drivers for its standard Xbox One controller.

It's also worth noting that the Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 doesn't have a socket for a headset, so you're dependent on Kinect if you want to talk to people online. It's a strange and disappointing omission, especially considering how popular multiplayer is in the fighting genre.

Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2: Performance

Everything about the Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 was built with hardcore fighting fans in mind. Not only are the stick and buttons made from high-quality components, but they're also easily replaceable by flipping open the lid and using the included screwdriver. This means you can swap parts out if they break, or change the look of the controller depending on your tastes.

For example, you could buy an LED-enabled printed circuit board and translucent buttons, and swap them in for the standard grey buttons. The buttons will then light up during use, and there's also a feature on the stick to use the haptic force feedback signal to make the lights flash.

Sadly, these lights and translucent buttons aren't included as standard, and at £200, this is something we really would have expected.

There are some other great touches for fighting game aficionados too. There's a lock button which disables the navigational buttons so you don't interrupt play by accident. There are also compartments under the faceplate to allow you to store emergence supplies, with specific compartments for an extra stick, buttons and tools.

Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2: Verdict

It's hard to find a more niche product than the Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 for Xbox One - a high-end tournament-grade fighting controller for a console that only has one fighting game, and one that isn't even that popular on the tournament circuit.

If Killer Instinct's your game of choice though, or you're optimistic that more fighting games will come out for the Xbox One, then the Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 is the stick to buy. It has some minor issues, such as a lack of voice input and a lack of light-up buttons, but it'll undoubtedly last out the Xbox One's lifespan, and will bring you many happy fighting memories during that time.

Product name release date: Out now

Product name price: £179.99