HORI Fighting Stick Alpha (PS5) review: Get ready for the next battle
HORI’s Fighting Stick lineup takes aim at Fighting game enthusiasts with the Fighting Stick Alpha, it is the first officially-supported PS5 arcade stick to come to market, but will it see you to victory?
HORI’s definitely no stranger to making arcade sticks, and has made an innumerable number of them since their debut on the market over 20 years ago. Their latest effort, the HORI Fighting Stick Alpha is the first commercially-sold Arcade Stick that supports the PS5, which bypasses the need for the likes of a Brook Converter, and gets you straight in the game without any fuss.
The HORI Fighting Stick Alpha doesn’t look to topple the build quality seen from the likes of Victrix, or Nacon’s upcoming Daija V2. Instead, it looks to be an accessible, mid-tier option that delivers quality, reliability, and customization options for anyone looking to take their game more seriously.
- Weight: 3.3kg
- Connectivity: USB-A
- Compatibility: PS5, PS4, PC
- Price: $199.99
- Features: Hayabusa Lever, Hayabusa buttons, tournament lock functions, swappable artwork, chassis opening functions, 3.5mm headphone jack
- Where to buy: Amazon
Included in the box: HORI Fighting Stick Alpha
Almost immediately after you unbox the HORI Fighting Stick Alpha, you’re met with a smart matte black plastic finish, across the entire arcade stick, in addition to the buttons. The lever and buttons are made by HORI, and are battle-tested components that won’t let you down. There’s a blue design on top by default, but this can be swapped out, however, the process of getting the artwork inside or out is fairly lengthy, and involves unscrewing 7 screws to get inside.
Externally, you have all of the PS5 functions you should come to expect, in addition to a touchpad and 3.5mm jack for audio. This is the first commercially-available arcade stick that supports the PS5, so no need for any converters, which is incredibly handy. It mostly feels solid, though the plastic can flex when opening the stiff hinge.
You have handy non-slip pads around the bottom and a rounded edge on the bottom for ergonomics. There are also several cutouts on the side of the arcade stick for easy transportation, which is one of our favorite features of the HORI Fighting Stick Alpha.
You can easily open up the arcade stick around the back, where you’ll be greeted with the non-detachable USB-A cable, in addition to the wiring for the functions inside.
When you open the stick, it’s incredibly top-heavy, causing it to fall over if you were to open it up to make repairs or customize the stick in any capacity. This is not a problem for other arcade sticks like the Nacon Daija, which has a bottom-heavy design and hinges to allow for this.
In addition to this, the cable-nestling system makes us slightly nervous. The HORI Fighting Stick Alpha’s USB cable wraps around the inside, with a small hole for cable management while in use. The issue with the USB’s internal coiling is that it’s incredibly near to the button’s wiring, which could cause some issues if they were to be knocked out of place.
However, as the buttons are relatively standard in size, you are easily able to replace them, as we did on the stick with a generic Sanwa. The included Hayabusa buttons are push-buttons, instead of screw-in, so be sure to pick up the right type if you intend to customize.
The HORI Fighting Stick Alpha has ample space inside of it, though you might struggle to fit edge-case Korean levers inside, should you want to swap it out. With that said, the Hayabusa buttons and levers are more than good enough for most people, and the ability to easily customize your experience is incredibly welcome. We do wish that the cable management was more well-thought-out, or if there was a detachable cable, as it can be prone to failure, especially if you intend to travel with the stick to tournaments, or for local casual play.
The HORI Fighting Stick Alpha has a wealth of features, from cross-platform play, all the way to being able to use HORI Device manager, which we covered in the HORI Fighting Commander review. However, the biggest boon to this stick is that you’re able to customize it to your heart’s content, and it also manages to offer a high-end arcade stick experience in a chassis with high build quality.
You’re not going to find a better native arcade stick for PS5 right now other than this.
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Tournament lock functions disable the side buttons, and top buttons to ensure that you do not accidentally DQ yourself in a tournament, which is a fantastic, and considerate option.
The lever feels great and is incredibly comparable in quality to the arcade-standard Sanwa, which is the highest praise that we can bestow. Additionally, the matte black buttons actuate nicely and have a slightly higher pitch in play than the Sanwas, which is something to note if you are prone to smacking your buttons with reckless abandon. Our only concern about the finish of the buttons is that they may wear over time, especially if it’s using ABS plastic, much like keyboard keycaps after use.
The Hori Fighting Stick Alpha can easily be connected to a multitude of devices, simply by flicking a switch. We booted up Street Fighter V on PC, and went into the game’s training mode and trials to see if the arcade stick could keep up with our bevy of combos and inputs.
Kicking off with G, we manage to flawlessly execute combo strings of quarter-circles, a half-circle command grab in addition to various forward-down-forward shoryuken motions without any issues whatsoever. The stick and buttons felt incredibly responsive, with no real issues in the way of execution, or any latency.
The Fighting Stick Alpha does not come with any additional gate for the lever itself, meaning that you are limited to a square gate only. This may cause issues for those who play grapplers and are used to an octagonal gate, which is supplied as an extra on some arcade sticks, but this is a niche use case, and you can still input 360-degree motions on the supplied lever, it’s just slightly tougher to execute.
This traditional arcade layout will surely sate anyone looking for a new arcade stick ready for Street Fighter 6, and any other games. We also gave the arcade stick a spin in Gundam Extreme VS, where we were able to input complex strings with ease and very little issue.
Make no mistake, the tournament-grade controls on the top allowed us to play without fear of accidentally pressing any other buttons, and the touchpad is a great touch for those looking to navigate the Playstation 5’s UI between games.
However, what was most impressive in our weeks of testing were the ergonomics of the stick, not only was it easy to carry around, but the angle at which your hands rest on the stick, whether it’s in your lap, or table, did not cause is any strain in our hands or wrists, even after hours-long sessions of play.
Should you buy it?
The Hori Fighting Stick Alpha ticks pretty much every box a modern fighting-game player would want in an arcade stick, wrapped up with high-quality buttons and a lever, with further options for customization on the latest generation of Sony consoles. There’s little to complain about here, though we do wish that there was more thought put into cable management, as it can get messy if you’re moving around during your locals, and have to open up the entire stick to put your cables away.
Hori could have done a little more to offer a more cohesive package here, and while the Hori Fighting Stick Alpha is a great arcade stick for most people, it could have come with a little bit more design thought for those that wish to customize their sticks further. It takes too long to replace the artwork, and we don’t like how the stick opens, and how you tidy up the cables inside. For the asking price, however, it’s tough to beat.
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