As sure as winter is followed by spring, the release of a new Capcom console fighting game is followed by a new Tournament Edition Arcade FightStick from Mad Catz. Let's put the Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 model through its paces.
The Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 Arcade FightStick: Tournament Edition takes the top-of-the-line controls found in premium fighting game arcade cabinets and presents them in a package that's perfect for tabletop or lap-top home console use. It's a product aimed at fighting game purists that believe a real arcade joystick and big round buttons are the only way to play, as well as those that just want to look like they know what they're doing.
Once you pry the Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 Arcade FightStick out of its packaging, setting it up in simply a matter of opening up the cable storage panel in the back of the unit, spooling out the lengthy USB cable, and plugging it into your console.
The eight buttons handle the work of your standard Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3's four buttons, shoulder buttons, and triggers, while the Start and Select (or Back, in the Xbox 360's case) buttons are set out of the way on the rear panel of the unit, keeping them from being pressed when you're slapping opponents about in your favorite fighting game.
The joystick can act as either the right analog stick, left analog, or standard directional pad thanks to a handy toggle in the top left corner, and there's also a switch that locks out the controller's turbo functions, keeping things tournament legal.
What We Liked
Well for one thing, the packaging is simply gorgeous. The Tournament Edition FightStick comes packed for display in a sturdy window box, lovingly festooned with stylish art that merely hints at the glorious product lurking within. As someone that only pulls out the specialized fighting game controller for particularly important guests, the display factor is incredibly important.
Opening the front panels of the box reveals one of the more attractive entries in Mad Catz's Capcom line of fighting game controllers. The best combatants Marvel and Capcom have to offer are crowded about the left side of the stick's face, and while my forearm may obscure my view of Darkstalkers' Felicia, I'm almost certain knowing she's there makes me play better. The Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 logo lurks in the lower right corner, just in case the player forgets what they spent $160 on.
For those of you thinking of picking one up to actually use and not simply display in a desperate attempt to appear proficient at fighting games, the Tournament Edition FightStick delivers the goods.
The Sanwa Denshi controls feel amazing and respond to your lightest touch, while taking a vicious pounding of a clumsy man-child (see video) in perfect stride. As I mentioned in my review of PDP Gaming's Marvel Edition Versus Fighting Pad, I'm a big fan of the audible and tactile sensation of controls that click. That love stems from exactly the sort of arcade-level parts Mad Catz packs into these babies here.
The removable rubber feet on the bottom of the unit keep it perfectly stable when placed on the living room coffee table and the weighted base gives it extra-added stability when you've got the unit splayed across your lap.
Note that I have a larger than normal lap, and your lap-based experience may vary.
What We Didn't Like
I'd list the $160 asking price for the Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 as a negative point, but after four or five separate iterations of the same stick coming out for Capcom games alone (I secretly coveted the $199 BlazBlue edition myself) the price should come as no surprise to anyone. I could also fault it for its scarcity, but the limited edition stick is still available at the GameShark Store for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
With those two things out of the way, the only other negative is that the stick is wired, but it's not like I was planning on wandering through the house with it anyway. Besides, if I start critiquing features I wish the product had instead of the features it came with, I'll soon be complaining that it doesn't make me sandwiches despite my desperate pleas.
The Bottom Line
The Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 Arcade FightStick: Tournament Edition is the same Tournament Edition FightStick Mad Catz has been releasing since the original came out with Street Fighter IV in 2009. We loved that one. We loved the one that came after it. Do we love this one as well? Of course we do. It's the same thing with different art. If you've got the space, the money, and the inclination to bring the arcade fighting game experience home then by all means, pick one up. Or you can wait for the next one, just in case you like the art on that one better. Your choice.
The Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 Arcade FightStick: Tournament Edition was manufactured by Mad Catz for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, released on February 15. Retails for $159.99. A unit was given to us by the manufacturer for review purposes. Played Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 extensively with the controller, dabbling a bit in Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 but quickly growing bored and going back. Pounded on controller like vengeful ape god.