Over the last few years, Mad Catz and Hori have done an excellent job of creating high-quality fightsticks. However, as officially licensed peripheral makers, neither company can provide a fightstick that supports all major platforms out of the box. It sucks to be in a situation where you’ve spent a large chunk of change on an XBOX 360 fightstick and your friends bought the latest fighting game on PlayStation 3. Or when you want to play in an XBOX 360 tournament when you only have a PlayStation 3 fightstick. To get around this, you can try your hand at modding your fightstick. Or you can try your out a sketchy adapter which could be obsolete with the next console patch. Or you could do what I’ve done to date, which is buy a high-quality fightstick for each system I play fighting games on. Regardless of the route you choose, the answer usually isn’t cheap or technically stable.
Aiming to address this need, the Qanba Q4 RAF is built to work on the XBOX 360, PlayStation 3 and PC right out of the box. For avid tournament goers or gamers who often play on different systems, having one fightstick that supports all platforms is truly a blessing. But does it work as advertised? And does the rest of this fightstick from an unknown manufacturer stack up with the best from Mad Catz and Hori?
The Qanba Q4 RAF is a high-end fightstick. Placing it side-by-side with a Mad Catz TE, it’s clear to see that they’re on the same level. The casing on the Q4 RAF feels solid and has a good weight to it. It’s also got the same quality Sawna joystick and buttons that most high-end fightsticks use. Turbo functionality is not really my thing, but the fightstick does have it available as a feature.
It does a lot of things to make it on par with with the best, but it also has a few tricks up its sleeve to put it above the pack. The biggest ace in its hand is the platform toggle at the top. With the flip of a switch, the fightstick can work on an XBOX 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. For the most part, this works as advertised. I tried it on a number of different games on my PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360 and it worked great. My only word of advice with the switch is to make sure it’s set properly before you plug it in, as the switch won’t toggle the settings once it’s connected to a system.
The Qanba Q4 RAF could have called it a day at that, but it takes things even further with a few smart functional design additions. I love the felt bottom on the fightstick, as it ensures that it doesn’t slip around on your lap. The handle is also handy, though the opening is a bit small. I have small hands, and the fit is snug for me. I’m guessing that it would be more problematic for those with larger hands.
To make room for that handle, the cable compartment rests on the left hand side. The cable is a good length and it tucks in nicely into the side compartment. The only thing I wish they would have done was put the hinge on the top. On my Mad Catz TE, the latch on the compartment door broke after prolonged use, but the door itself never got in the way because it was hinged on the top and would simply jut out a bit from the bulge of the cable. On the Qanba Q4 RAF, it’s hinged from the bottom. While the latch feels solid, if it were to break, the door would be left dangling unless you were to tape it up. This isn’t a real criticism of the product in it’s current state, but it could be something to look out for going forward.
I’m extremely impressed with the Qanba Q4 RAF. It does everything you’d expect a high-end fightstick to do and then some at a price comparable to its closest competitors. Though they’re not easy to come by, they’re worth tracking down, especially if cross platform support is a factor for you. Though I’ll continue to use my Mad Catz TE fighsticks at home, the inclusion of cross platform support ensures that my Qanba Q4 RAF will be my go-to fightstick when I go to tournaments in the future.