Much to our surprise, the recently discovered Mortal Kombat fighting stick doesn't come from MadCatz, the company behind the official sticks for a slew of Capcom fighting games. Instead they come from PDP, and the design firm says there's a very American reason for that.
"PDP has been working with WB and the dev team for quite a while to conceptualize a stick just for the new Mortal Kombat," Gerry Block, PDP senior product manager tells Kotaku. "MadCatz did some good work with the Tournament Edition (Street Fighter IV) sticks, but those are Japanese style sticks for a Japanese game. We thought it would be a lot of fun to respond with an American style stick for an American fighting franchise."
As jingoistic as that may sound, Block means that quite literally.
The Mortal Kombat arcade button layout used concave, not convex buttons, something that Block maintains is a cultural decision. The sticks themselves, he says, were baseball bat style, not lollipop style as found with Street Fighter. And the surface upon which the buttons and sticks were attached were angled for the U.S.-designed Mortal Kombat, versus flat for Japan's Street Fighter game.
All of this translates directly into the design of the Mortal Kombat fight stick PDP made, which comes as part of next year's $150 Mortal Kombat Tournament Edition. The stick also has some other interesting touches. The bottom of the stick is overlaid with memory foam wrapped in velvet, making it a bit more comfortable to play with on your lap. There are also little feet jutting from the sides of the stick that won't touch your lap while playing, but will prevent the stick from sliding around when it's on a table.
Finally the casing for the stick is easily opened with a latch, no screwdrivers needed. Inside, gamers will find the stick and buttons' Suzo Happ arcade components protected by a transparent housing. The case also has enough room in it to hold the game box and the cable for the stick. Unfortunately, it looks like you still need to get out the tools to actually tinker with the guts of the stick.
It sounds like there are some interesting additions in the stick's design, things I'd love to see move over to all sticks. I love the notion of not having to mess with tools to gain access to the components and the memory foam bottom sounds like a good design choice too.