The arcade joystick--or "fight stick" as it's generally known in the fighting game community--is considered by many as the best way to experience a fighting game. The genre is known for its demand for precision, with inputs for moves measured in frames lasting 1/60 of a second. Arcade sticks, the thought process goes, lends itself better to meeting the specific execution demands of fighting games. Victrix is hoping to lead the way in the new console generation with the Pro FS Arcade Fight Stick, and after playing multiple fighters with the device over the last two weeks, I can say the bar for fight sticks on PlayStation consoles and PC has been set incredibly high.
Arcade sticks have a history of being large, heavy, and cumbersome, but the Victrix Pro FS Arcade Stick remedies at least two of those major issues to a degree. Despite its large size, the stick is surprisingly lightweight. More importantly, I've had a much easier time picking this up and carrying it around than other fight sticks before it. The two handles underneath the buttons make it easier to lift no matter which hand I'm using, which means the stick becomes more portable too. Admittedly, the stick will still take all of the space in most backpacks, but at least getting it out of said backpack won't be a huge chore. Victrix also thought ahead by making the joystick and wire removable, making storage even easier.
Though it is lighter than other sticks I've used in the past, the Pro FS Arcade Fight Stick is still heavy enough to anchor itself, creating a stable playing experience. The stick never slides around my desk while I play, keeping me grounded and comfortable whether I'm throwing Hadokens, Electric wind God Fists, or Bandit Bringers.
A lot of that comfort comes from its rounded design, which foregoes the sharp edges of most other sticks for a sloping form factor on both sides of the stick. This allowed me to rest my wrists comfortably below the buttons, without having to worry about them shifting or falling in the middle of a heated battle, or feeling as if the edges are digging into my arms. A grounded stick that never moves, coupled with a design that keeps my wrists from hurting as I play alone, makes this one of the more ergonomic options on the market.
The buttons on the Pro FS Arcade Fight Stick, meanwhile, are quick and responsive, while also feeling tactile. I might even go so far as to say the buttons can sometimes feel too sensitive, as there were a few instances where the stick registered a button press when I just glided my finger across the top of it, without actually pressing it. After a while I was able to adjust my hold on the stick and minimize those results, but the times where it does happen can be a bit frustrating. The joystick is marvelous, as it feels like it has the fidelity to let me move my character exactly how I want, exactly when I want.
Despite its large size, the stick is surprisingly lightweight ... Victrix also thought ahead by making the joystick and wire removable, making storage even easier
I tried the Victrix FS Pro Arcade Fight Stick with nearly a dozen fighting games ranging from old-school classics to modern titles, and the results across the majority of the game was the same: This stick rules. Notable top experiences are Mortal Kombat 11--where I was pulling off Fatalities with incredible ease--and Street Fighter, where I had no trouble with quarter-circle motions, half-circle motions, or even the 360-degree for Zangief's piledriver. I also had the chance to test this stick with the recent Street Fighter 6 Closed Beta, which was a blast in its own right, but having this stick just made the experience that much better.
However, there was one glaring issue that surfaced while walking around the SF6 beta's Battle Hub: I can't control the camera when using the stick. On a controller, I'd be using the left stick to move and the right stick to see, but with a fight stick, I lose one of the control sticks. I can acknowledge this is more of a Street Fighter 6 issue than a Victrix Pro FS Arcade Fight Stick issue, but not being able to see where I'm going in the Battle Hub could result in some frustrating moments in SF6, which is poised to be one of the biggest upcoming fighting game releases.
Similarly, there's one current fighting game where the stick didn't perform quite to the level of the others: MultiVersus. Perhaps it's a lifetime of playing games like Super Smash Bros. on a controller, but the platform fighter format did not jive well with the stick when I tried it. Attacks weren't coming as quickly as I'd like, and I saw more errors in which attacks I wanted to use than any other. Movement was fine, but ultimately the fight stick felt less natural overall while playing matches in MultiVersus. I think I'll stick to the controller for this one.
Conversely, the best fighting game experience I had with this stick belongs to Tekken 7, which thrives on a control scheme like this. Every tap of the joystick and every press of a button was registered perfectly, and it transported me back to a time where I would play Tekken in boardwalk arcades for hours. Case in point: I purposely picked a character I'd never used before and tried her out in Training Mode, and within a half-hour, I was performing complex 10-hit combos with little error. This fight stick played a huge role in that as I felt immediately comfortable with using the stick.
The Victrix FS Pro Arcade Fight Stick is one of, if not the, best fight stick controllers I've ever used. Its solid frame makes it weighty , but it's light enough to be carried without much effort. The rounded, ergonomic design keeps me comfortable while I wail on my opponents, giving me complete control no matter which game I'm playing. Some buttons can be a little trigger happy, but with a slight adjustment that issue can be mitigated quickly. It’s a slick, elegant, and smartly designed arcade stick that I will be playing most of my fighting games with for the foreseeable future. If you’re a seasoned pro, it makes sense to upgrade to this stick ahead of the launch of new Street Fighter (and with a new Tekken on the way). If you’re new to arcade sticks, it might be pricey, but the Victrix FS Pro feels built to last.
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