One of the coolest aspects about the office culture at my work is that we’re really big into fighting games. We have an XBOX 360 in the lunch room, where many of us play Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 during lunch breaks. On special days, we even do double-elimination tournaments, where I’ll bring in my PS3 (office platform of choice) and everyone will bring in their own controllers and fightsticks so that we can battle it out.
At our most recent tournament, one of my coworkers brought in his Hori Real Arcade Pro V3-SA, which I’ve been anxious to get my hands on. Though my Hori experiences have been mixed at best, I have yet to try any of their high-end models. Having spent about 45 minutes putting it through its paces in Super Street Fighter IV matches and training mode, I thought it’d be worth sharing my experiences with anyone who is considering picking this particular fightstick up.
The V3-SA is the Hori equivalent to the Mad Catz TE, which I absolutely love (and own two of). This means, unlike the Hori fightsticks I’ve used in the past, you’re getting a higher-quality product. The casing of this fightstick more or less in line with the proportions of the Mad Catz TE, which is a good thing. I noticed that the V3-SA is notably lighter than the TE, but I never had any issues with it slipping around on my lap. For those who travel to tournaments often, the overall lighter weight of the V3-SA may be a selling point to you. I personally prefer the extra heft and the more solid feel of the TE, but the V3-SA from a casing standpoint feels really good, too.
As with the TE, this fightstick is wired. While this may put off some, many fighting game tournaments require all controllers to be wired, and many fighting game players are wary of their input timing not being as quick on a wireless solution. I can’t fully verify the latter, but the reality is most fightsticks are wired. If you want to sit away from your TV, please not that it comes with a USB cable that’s almost 10 feet, which tucks away nicely in its built-in cable compartment. It’s a bit shorter than the TE’s cable, and a little shorter than I’d like it to be, but you could easily address this issue with an extension cord.
This fightstick’s strongest attribute is that it uses Sanwa parts for its buttons and joystick, which puts it in line with the TE and above many of Hori’s products in the past. With my old entry-level Hori fightsticks, the joystick didn’t feel as ‘crisp’ or ‘solid’ as a TE and wore out to the point where many of my inputs didn’t register properly. The buttons on my entry-level Hori sticks also required more force to register an input, which can be a big deal when you need to make extremely quick and precise button inputs. Since the V3-SA also uses Sanwa parts, the joystick felt nice and solid, while the buttons responded well to a light touch.
Putting it through it’s paces in matches and in training mode, it almost felt just like playing my TE. I think the main difference wasn’t so much a matter of the components of the fightstick, but rather how he’s worked his fightstick in. For the most part, the controller responded as I hoped it would. I was able to pull off many of my combos, special moves, and FADC tactics without missing a beat for the most part. The only quirk I noticed was that I was having difficulty at times executing moves that required a dragon punch input. It wasn’t coming out that consistently and I couldn’t put my finger on why. I asked my coworker if he had similar issues and he said he did. I’m reluctant to pin my issue against all V3-SA fightsticks, as this may have simply been caused by how he’s worn in his stick. He plays primarily charge characters, so he doesn’t do dragon punch inputs that much, which in turn could affect how his fightstick registers that particular input.
If the input issue really is an isolated incident, then I’d say it’s a pretty good fightstick that’s in the same league as the Mad Catz TE. Personally, I prefer the TE, but I think that they’re close enough in quality that it will ultimately boil down to personal preference.