Right out of the box, so much of the FireDragon hits on the right notes: this PS3 stick uses top quality Sanwa parts. Sanwa, of course, is a famed Japanese arcade component maker.
Those familiar with Taiwanese metal fight stick maker KDiT (Keep Design in Taiwan) have probably already noticed that the Drop FireDragon looks very similar. That's no kwinky-dink, because drop enlisted KDiT to make the FireDragon.
The result is a high quality stick—something that you'd expect from KDiT. And as a stick, I really had no complaints. It's great. If you've ever used a KDiT stick, then you're aware of the craftsmanship that go into these.
The metal is matte and feels smooth, but not slick. The FireDragon is heavy and begs you to bang on it. Like all good fighting sticks, the Drop FireDragon does a wonderful job of replicating the arcade cabinet experience—not just with the buttons, but the tactile sensitions of play. Underneath the button, there are exposed screws, so I'd imagine that if you were handy with a screwdriver and knew what you were doing, you could swap out parts.
The Drop FireDragon features an 8-button layout, consisting of all the DualShock 3's face and shoulder buttons as well as triggers. In the upper corner, there are the Start and Select buttons. The Home button is in the upper right corner. There are Turbo and Clean Turbo buttons next to the Start and Select buttons.
Using Turbo is self-explanatory. To use it, press a button, then press the Turbo button. You can clear it one of two ways: Repeat the steps to open the Turbo function, or press the Clean Turbo button to cancel Turbo.
My one, if singular gripe, is that I'm not a big fan of the stick's art. That might be personal taste, and the stick so well put together, it's also one I'm more than happy to overlook. It's not a deal breaker. (Though, I'd love to see simpler designs!) And you probably could swap it out for something elese.
Drop International does not have a release date for this stick yet, nor does it have pricing. It could cost around US$230. That's expensive, and it's about $100 more than what KDiT sticks cost in Taiwan. If you think about how much it would cost to ship one of these things from Taiwan, perhaps the price evens out somewhat (perhaps?). I believe that you can contact KDiT directly to get sticks, but I haven't checked the logistics. Its products are not getting the distribution they deserve.
Drop International, however, seems to be aggressively trying to release the FireDragon in the West—which is good news for those who haven't had the pleasure of using a Made-in-Taiwan metal fight stick before.
Drop International has not yet launched an official website, but plans to once the stick gets closer to release.