After being successfully funded on Kickstarter a number of years ago, the Hit Box Cross Up is the latest from the fighting game controller company, successfully blending digital and analog inputs to create something special. True to its namesake, this fightstick hybrid can easily be considered one of the best PC controllers for fighting games, and a definitive way to smoke the competition in many movement-dependent titles on the market, especially in the 3D space.
Design and Features
The Cross Up Box should be immediately familiar to anyone who's ever had their hands on a premium fight stick before, however, this time you'll notice the same four directional buttons as found on the Hit Box itself. True to the ethos of blending digital and analog together, in this new model from the company, you'll note the eight-way stick present on the left-hand side; more on the functionality possibilities later down the page, though.
Immediately the one word that consistently comes to mind with the Cross Up Box is quality; this is an immensely well-made and aesthetically beautiful controller that certainly lives up to the price point. Truly no expense has been spared, with the arcade cabinet quality Sanwa-Denshi JLF lever and OBSF buttons. If you've ever competed on a branded cab in the past then you'll be right at home here; you can't really beat true Japanese parts when it comes to these things.
That commitment to build quality is present with the steel case and thick acrylic top, too. Owing to the overall added heft of this unit here, we've also hot a full no-slip bottom, with its grippy surface being great for on your lap or on your gaming desk of choice. You wouldn't want something this sizable sliding around, after all, so I certainly appreciate this inclusion.
The one drawback that I can say about the Cross Up Box is down to the choice of the glossy piano black finish. While little more than mildly irritating, as with all products with this design philosophy, this device attracts dust, smudges, and fingerprints constantly. A microfibre cloth is graciously included to keep on top of this, but I did start to miss the clean and sterile white of the first box in this respect.
What's particularly exciting about the Cross Up Box is the included software as you can reprogram every aspect of the layout to suit your needs, as well as save profile setups and hotkeys onto it. This is due to the USB-C cable output (a typical printer lead) with can be plugged into your PC as well as the standard connection cable.
The main selling point of the Cross Up Box is found in the name itself. For those who aren't familiar, a 'cross up' in fighting game terms refers to when a character is able to attack quickly and get behind their opponent before they can turn themselves around to block. Of course, this is only possible in standard 2D fighting games that do not include a dedicated block button, and perhaps most commonly seen in the likes of Street Fighter.
It's usually not the easiest thing to pull off for most people, though, and that's where the Cross Up Box shines the brightest. You see, you've got that stick and the directional buttons which can be used together to make motion inputs far easier. While I cannot speak for every single fundamental skill or advanced maneuverer, in my testing I was able to pull off charge moves far more consistently and found myself significantly improving in Tekken 7 bouts than with a standard gamepad.
With a game such as Tekken 7, for example, movement and neutrals are very much the main play over the long strings preferred by some 2D titles. With the former being a 3D game, I found that I was able to consistently side-step projectiles and back dash away from tracking moves that could have otherwise clipped me. My 40 or so hours with Dragunov, Negan, and Armor King with the Cross Up Box made me feel more confident taking risks.
Having two movement input methods does take some getting used to, though, as at first, I would either ignore the buttons and play only with the stick, or resort to keeping both my hands on the right-hand side. However, the more that I leaned into being able to quickly tap the directional buttons while weaving with the stick, the better prepared I felt to go for longer juggles, and play more aggressively overall.
I really love the Cross Up Box in 3D games that can fully take advantage of the best of both worlds, however, I would find myself gravitating towards my Hit Box when we rolled out the 2D fighters most of the time. The latter being digital-only while being significantly lighter and smaller meant it was something I could keep close to hand easier. where the former had to be on my desk and ready to go. I never found the weight on my lap to be impeding, but it was noticeable in comparison.
I'm not the Evo-ready enthusiast that can fully master the kit like this, admittedly, but I can hold my own in most fighting games on the market right now. In my many bouts with friends and family who very much know what they're doing when it comes to Tekken, Soulcalibur, Street Fighter, Guilty Gear, and Mortal Kombat, it was refreshing to hear my thoughts on the Cross Up Box validated, too.
Should you buy the Cross Up Box?
The Cross Up Box is an exceptional hybrid controller that the fighting game community elite are really going to be able to master. The added eight-way stick to the Hit Box's classic digital layout really adds a limitless layer of versatility for those who can take full advantage of the extra movement dimension where other fightsticks just don't compare. Considering the price tag here ($299), though, that's likely going to be the target audience. You're getting an amazingly built bit of kit here that's a must-have for anyone wanting to take their skills to the next level.
How we tested the Cross Up Box
I've used the Cross Up Box for a combined 40 hours of matches primarily in Tekken 7, but also in Street Fighter V, Mortal Kombat X, and Mortal Kombat 11 as well. It replaced my previous gamepad of choice for these fighting games, where this became a preferred solution for these titles.