I’ve never been that interested in 2D fighting games, or the elaborate arcade-style fighting sticks that go along with them. But as someone who builds and customizes his own keyboards, I appreciate the hell out of 8BitDo’s latest Arcade Stick, which is coming out October 20th. You can pre-order it now for $90.
What makes this stick different from the many others that are on the market? Well for one, it’s from 8BitDo, which has an excellent reputation for thrifty quality and interoperability when it comes to controllers. (If you’re new to this kind of accessory, yes, $90 is a pretty good deal fro a high-quality wireless fight stick.) The Arcade Stick works with the Switch and the PC via either a 2.4GHz adapter or Bluetooth, allowing for customization via the 8BitDo Ultimate software on Windows and Mac.
You might be able to pair the Arcade Stick Android, Raspberry Pi, and other Bluetooth-compatible machines, too. It comes with a 1000mAh battery, which should be good for several weeks of play given the lack of lights or vibration, rechargeable via USB-C. It has ten primary buttons, two macro buttons, and a few extra dials for switching stick controls and generally managing game interfaces.
But the real draw is that 8BitDo is enabling, nay, encouraging gamers to crack this sucker open. The main stick and ten primary 30mm/24mm buttons are all modular, compatible with popular, semi-universal mounts made by boutique manufacturers Sanwa, Happ, and IL. So like a modular mechanical keyboard, you can adjust and customize this thing to your heart’s content.
If you understand this stuff more than I do, then you’ll want 8BitDo’s official spec on interoperability: “It supports virtually every arcade stick ever made: Sanwa JLF / Sanwa JLW Seimitsu / LS 33, 55, 56, 58 / Seimitsu LS 32, 40 / Happ arcade sticks & IL arcade sticks.”
It’s a shame that 8BitDo couldn’t squeeze official compatibility with the Xbox and/or PlayStation in there. But if the Arcade Stick does well, I wouldn’t be surprised to see alternate versions made that do just that.