Not everyone has played Street Fighter on an arcade machine at an actual arcade. If you haven’t, then you need a serious education in gaming. Good luck finding a local arcade, though ... they’re all but dead in the US now. That means the younger generation of gamers is used to playing these fighting games on control pads, not using joysticks. It’s the sad truth.
There are also those few who prefer a control pad over a joystick. Not sure what their story is, but hell, at least I know I could beat them in any fighting game. Regardless, Mad Catz closed up their Street Fighter IV controller lineup with the FightPad, a gamepad that fits nicely in players’ hands and is made just for 2D fighters.
The best thing about the FightPad is its versatility. Even as a small gamepad, it has nearly every feature of the two FightSticks before it: eight buttons, a D-pad/stick switch and turbo. The six face buttons are very large and very tactile. When you push them, it gives that satisfying feeling you get from pushing every elevator button just before getting off. They are fun to push just because they are buttons.
Besides that, the six face buttons are very well spaced and placed. Thumbs can relax with each button in easy reach. The two shoulder buttons are equally tactile and give resounding recoil at each push. But the best part of this FightPad is definitely the D-pad.
Unlike the 360’s rigid and Dual Shock 3’s minute D-pads, the FightPad has a very loose D-pad that’s very easy to move and control. Our tests in Street Fighter IV have been excellent; the D-pad works great. The controller itself is much more enjoyable to use than a standard 360 pad, mainly because the D-pad works. Making combinations and special attacks is actually possible without getting frustrated. The six face buttons are also great to use. We’d venture so far as to say a control pad is a plausible way to play a fighting game.
But perhaps the best thing about the FightPad is that it’s a great arcade controller. Games on Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network that don’t require more than one analog stick are that much better with the top-notch D-pad and huge buttons, especially older ported titles like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The old-school feel is perfect for them.
There are five different FightPads, each with a different character to choose from: Ryu, Ken, Akuma, Chun-Li and Blanka. For $40, it’s a pretty sweet deal. And on the PS3, it’s wireless. Both models should work on the PC, but we’ve only tested the 360 model on it. The point is if you like playing on a controller better than with the standard joystick layout, the Mad Catz FightPad is a great choice for all your gaming needs.
Jamez Pikover is a freelance writer whose work has appeared both online and in print, including Strategy Informer, Gameworld Network, and Total PC Gaming. He's contributing these Mad Catz Street Fighter IV controller articles on a one-off basis, because he loves you, and wants to make sure you don't spend your money on something you shouldn't. Be nice.