Hori Retro Stick: Opinions Wanted

Controller manufacturer Hori is looking for suggestions on a potential new arcade stick they’ll be selling.  We in the retro gaming community often ask for our voices to be heard and now a company is asking us directly!  Let’s take the time to send them our feedback before the January 31st deadline and I’ll post mine below.  While I’m not an expert in any one aspect of controllers, I’m in a unique position to hear feedback from all corners of gaming; I’ve helped many pro gamers test their setups and countless more casual enthusiasts who are looking to spend their money on a good solution.  As a result, I feel I have a fairly strong idea of what would be needed for one controller to encompass everything we need.

New Hori stick:

While I can’t read Japanese, I had a few friends look over the webpage and it seems Hori is considering a few different designs and form factors.  By far my favorite is the modular design (the last one on the page).  I think all other options would feel more like a cramped toy than something most of us would want to use for extended sessions.  Also, being modular means people can place the different stick/ball/spinner options on either side of the main buttons, depending on the orientation they prefer.

For this to work, it needs to be sturdy and sized right:  Too small will make it hard for adult gamers to use and while I absolutely looooooove my Vewlix, that’s too big and heavy for the average gamer.  Also, after the modules are connected, it needs to be a solid fit:  You don’t want the pieces separating if you’re in the middle of a fighting game tournament and have the stick on your lap!  I realize this probably can’t be as strong as a stick that’s one solid piece of aluminum, but please remember that the goal is to create a stick that would cover as many people in gaming as possible – A weak connection between modules would ruin the experience for everyone, not just pro gamers.  If they come up with a good latching method, this might even work for hardcore enthusiasts who play on a table (but maybe not their lap).  I also think an 8-button “center piece” might be a better choice for Neo Geo fans who want to orient the buttons in any configuration they’d like…and I guess to be compatible with modern fighting games as well.

EDIT: My original post got info wrong about the stick itself.  Here’s the updated paragraph:

I think multiple stick options would be the best choice as well.  I’ve come to love the same Sanwa stick they included with the Vewlix, but I imagine many other people would prefer a US-style controller and others might even want the yellow Loop lever “spinner stick” they show in their post.  For the buttons I hope they at least use industry-standard sizing, so people can swap them out with their favorites; Remember that no matter how good the stick or button is that they include, pro gamers will want to use what they’re familiar with.  Starting off with quality parts, then giving people the option to install what they’d like would cover all ground from beginners, to at-home enthusiasts, to pro competition players.

Lastly – and as-expected – The output needs to be extremely low latency.  This shouldn’t be an issue as even cheap controllers have been tested at about 1ms of average latency, but it absolutely needs to be addressed here:  Selling a laggy solution that needs to be gutted before using it is not what casual gamers want.  Once again, this is not an “expensive” solution – It shouldn’t add much (if any) extra cost to simply use a USB chipset that is compatible with both MiSTer’s 1ms (or less) low-latency mode, as well as every RPi/PC solution out there.  I also think something like direct supergun use would be nice as well, but I think that’s a bit too niche for Hori to support and I completely understand.  Quality USB-out, plus one of the many new low-latency USB-to-DB15 adapters should result in less than 2ms of total average latency.  If you’re playing on a CRT or gaming monitor, this should be a low enough total solution to be considered “zero” from a real-world performance perspective.

So, overall, here’s my strong suggestion of what a new arcade stick should include that can encompass everyone from pro gamers to casual arcade fans.  In order:

  • Modular design, so people can piece it together how they like.
  • Sized so adults can use it comfortably.
  • Solid feel after it’s together.
  • All buttons, sticks, spinners, etc should be industry standard size.  Maybe just use Sanwa?
  • Output should be a single, industry standard, low-latency-compatible USB connector.
  • Compatibility with modern consoles would be nice, but if this is a retro-inspired stick, standard (and low latency!) USB is more important.
  • Consider an 8-button center piece to cover all button combo scenarios.

If you agree, or have thoughts of your own, please consider sending a polite email to Hori to discuss.  Please don’t forget to send them a link to this webpage, as well as the weekly roundup where I discuss this in more detail:


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