Can a specialized fighting game controller make you better at Marvel Vs. Capcom 3? PDP's Marvel Edition Versus Fighting Pad says yes.
The Marvel Edition Versus Fighting Pad is a controller built specifically with 2D fighting games in mind. The Xbox 360's left and right bumpers, used in Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 to perform assists and swap out characters, have been moved next to the X, Y, A, and B buttons, creating a six-button layout similar to an arcade machine. The larger-than-normal face buttons are all fitted with precision micro-switches, as is the sole directional stick. The front of the pad is covered with random Marvel Comics characters engaged in battle, while the back side features a satin finish to ensure a firm grip.
The Versus Fighting Pad is a corded controller, so you'll need an open USB port on your Xbox 360 in order to use it. Simply plug the controller in and you're ready to go, tethered to your console via a good eight feet of cable.
What We Liked
It's one thing for a controller to be responsive, reacting quickly to your stick movement and button presses. Thanks to its micro-switch arcade precision directional stick and buttons, the Versus Fighting Pad actually feels responsive.
Each button delivers a satisfying click when pressed. The directional stick clicks when moved up, down, or diagonally. The combination of audible and tactile feedback makes it much easier for the player to keep track of complicated combination moves, where missing even one command can throw the entire sequence off.
The directional stick marries the precision of a standard directional pad with the comfort and ease of an analog stick, an elegant best-of-both-worlds answer to the question of two dimensional fighting game movement control. It's actually improved my Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 performance. I've always had problems pulling off moves that require forward-down-diagonal movements, but with the Versus Fighting Pad's responsive stick, I'm pulling them off seven times out of ten, which in my case is pretty astounding.
It's not just about responsiveness either. The lopsided design of the Versus Fighting Pad means I can hold the controller comfortably in my left hand with the fingers of my right hand poised over the buttons, arcade style. And with the Select and Start buttons hidden away on the top edge of the controller, I don't need to worry about accidentally pausing my game in the middle of a frantic battle.
What We Didn't Like
This is the Marvel Edition of the PDP Versus Fighting Pad, a fact that the random comic book art plastered across the face of the controller will never let you forget. I find it's best to tune it out. Otherwise you'll start studying it obsessively, trying to determine its origin. It's got Captain America, Spider-Man, what looks like Dormammu, and a cameo by an oddly smiling Wolverine in the lower left corner. Then it's got Mockingbird, Spider-Woman, Madame Masque, Ms. Marvel, and a host of other characters not appearing in Marvel Vs. Capcom 3.
Incidentally, it's a splash page from Marvel's 2010 Siege event.
PDP has the Marvel license, but Mad Catz has the Capcom license, so I understand there were limitations to the art that could be placed on the controller. I still feel PDP could have come up with a design that didn't look like someone just pasted a random comic book page onto the face of the controller. It looks cheap. Thankfully it doesn't play cheap.
The Versus Fighting Pad is a controller with a very narrow focus. It's meant for fighting games, and it excels in that regard. You don't miss the second analog stick in a fighter. In a first-person shooter, on the other hand, the pad is unusable, and you'll have to swap back to a standard configuration Xbox 360 controller.
I don't assume that anyone is buying a product called the Versus Fighting Pad to play Call of Duty, but I sure do miss those precisions buttons when switching back to my Microsoft controller.
The Bottom Line
Not everyone can afford to pay $160 to $300 on a premium quality arcade style fighting stick, and not everyone wants to lug one out every time a new 2D fighting game hits the market. The Versus Fighting Pad is a compact and affordable alternative to those massive beasts, bringing the essence of arcade control to the palm of your hand. It may not be much to look at, but looks don't matter much once the fists start flying.
The Marvel Edition Versus Fighting Pad was manufactured by PDP Gaming for the Xbox 360, released on February 14. Retails for $39.99. A unit was given to us by the manufacturer for reviewing purposes. Played Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds extensively with the pad, also using it as a primary Xbox 360 navigation tool. Attempted to play other games with the pad, but the one analog / digital stick limited its use.