After many years in hiatus, and the need to rely on buying second hand MAS sticks, the MAS Neo is coming soon to a fighting game meetup near you!
For a short history lesson, back in the late 90s / early 2000s, home consoles finally caught up technology wise to produce several console perfect ports of arcade games. This allowed smaller and local venues to host more fighting game tournaments and events, without the need to shell out $1000+ on a used or new arcade machine/board.
The only issue many were running into at that point, was the (Mostly) ill equipped controllers made for 3D games being used for 2D fighters. While the Dreamcast had some fantastic arcade games on it, that controller was in NO WAY a great fighting pad… The PlayStation controller was a pretty good pad for some titles, with one player actually winning EVO 2014 with a PS1 controller a few years back.
Arcade sticks were offered for consoles back in the day, but for the most part, many of them ranged from almost as good, to being complete garbage. Most sixth gen fighting sticks at that point were import Hori sticks, mimicking the Japanese arcade cabinets, which (In some people’s eyes) were objectively better than arcade parts used in Western style arcade machines.
However, there never was anything that was a 1:1 recreation of the US arcade control panel. That is… Until the MAS arcade sticks rolled onto the scenes..
Thao Nguyen and Reynalda Lynn Nguyen, the pioneers behind the MAS arcade stick, saw the gap in the market, and with their skills, started creating these sticks for local competitors in California, and eventually hosting a website to sell them all over the world.
As the name implies, the MAS (Multi-Arcade System) sticks were designed to be used on different home systems (As in, one stick per console), and in some cases, dual modded to work on two consoles (Such as the PS2 / Dreamcast).
Towards the end of the sixth gen console’s lives, and during the release of Street Fighter 4, the Japanese fight stick explosion occurred. This is when companies such as Mad Catz, Hori, and others stared to producing high quality fight sticks using actual Japanese parts (Usually Sanwa or Seimitsu parts), pushing the American control panel parts demand to the point of irrelevancy. Forcing companies like Happ, who produced many of the Arcade control panel buttons, to merge with Suzo, causing many of their buttons to decline further in quality, killing what was left of the American arcade stick market by raising the price of vintage Happ parts to acronical levels.
At that point, making the switch to the cheaper and readily available Japanese style fight sticks made so much more sense. Why try waiting for a MAS Stick to become available, or hunt down expensive vintage Happ parts, when you can pick up a perfectly working stick with potentially better feeling parts for under $200?
Eventually, the MAS Arcade Stick was retired, and the ever growing Japanese style fight sticks took over the market..
Years later, Thao eventually talked with Scanline City about reviving the brand and improving on the stick, but sadly, Theo and his wife passed away due to a house fire in March of 2021. Scanline City decided to push on in his memory, and announced the MAS NEO, a BRAND NEW MAS fight stick, which will potentially be more versatile and higher quality than the original.
The MAS NEO itself can support pretty much every button and stick combination with it’s Plexi layout. Japanese parts, American parts, and potentially some Korean parts. Finally a stick for those who want to use American style parts!
On top of that, it will also support several different button layouts, so you can pick what works best for you! Vewlix, SEGA, Namco Noir, and even the Mortal Kombat cross! This could also mean a Hit Box or Mix box layout can be supported as well, which are fight stick layouts that use only buttons, or a WASD keyboard button layout instead of a joy stick respectively.
Currently, there are no specific plan for internal electronics for said stick, but they hope to include options for Brook’s universal and retro boards, so it can potentially be fit for any situation. They will also sell the case without electronics for those who are interested in a DIY solution, or want to wire the stick up to their specific need.
You might be asking yourself, “How much is this going to run me?”. Scanline City says the pricing will be around $300-$500 depending on your specific need, with a DIY version running cheaper than for example, a ready to go wired up stick with buttons. Scanline City also announced a MAS Classic, which will be more in line to the original MAS stick specifications, and run around $200-$400 again, depending on which configuration you go with.
The MAS Neo will be open to orders later this month, and the wait for said stick will be determined based on when you put in an order. The wait might be shorter also depending if you just order the case without electronics, due to potential part shortage issues, but that remains to be seen…
Keep an eye out on Scanline City’s YouTube channel for the announcement video for the MAS Classic, and the eventual open orders for the MAS Neo later this month!
Also, want to give a big thanks to Scanline City’s original MAS Arcade Stick video, which gave me additional info as to why this stick is so legendary.