Hands-on with crazy-cool new controllers for Street Fighter IV, HAWX, Rock Band 2

Mad Catz’s spokesperson Alex Verrey is a volcanic mountain of a man, a giant, hyperkinetic Englishman who spews forth not lava but PR jargon. Seriously – the guy speaks in bullet points. However, Mad Catz backs up Alex’s advertalking bravado with truly next-level products. If you’re into Street Fighter IV (and really, what true gamer isn’t?), Tom Clancy’s HAWX, or Rock Band 2, you’re going to want to check out these videos.

We’ll start with the biggest fish of them all, the Fancy Street Fighter IV stick. It’s hot. Real Sanwa parts (same as the Japanese arcade cabinets), programmable turbo for cheaters who want it, a switch that turns off all unneeded buttons so you don’t hit them by accident… good stuff.

There’s a video below that we’ll let do most of the talking. But there are a couple features Alex didn’t get to because we had him on a timer. There’s a headphone jack in front. The feet on the bottom can be removed easily and the bolt holes used to bolt the stick down to your coffee table - hardcore guys do this all the time. The artwork is switchable if you have a star-head screwdriver (and the actual parts can be swapped if you’re insane). You can even set it so that the six major buttons are the offset ones starting on the left, or the two parallel rows starting with the far right button. That’s giving the fans what they want.

Now for that video.

You’ll notice he also talked about the second, more affordable stick. It’s nice too.

Then, we moved on to a gorgeous control pad – WHAT? Alex is a PR guy, but this thing is just enough like our beloved Japanese Saturn controller that it had us frothing at the mouth. The D-pad seems smooth but not slick, and pulls off Zangief’s spinning piledriver with ease. The buttons are snappy, the programmable turbo and stick selector switch are still there, and there’s a rubbery coating on the sides and back that make sure it isn’t sliding out of your hand. The PS3 one is even wireless. The US gets five versions (Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Blanka and Akuma), while the UK has to make due with just the first three we mentioned).

Check it.

Rock Band fans will want to know all about the new bass guitar. It looks like the old one, but it’s wireless and the split strum bar has been made faster and stiffer. The neck is more matte in the back, the buttons are quieter, and it’s going to come in sea foam and red in addition to the white.

Then comes the stomp box – finally, a use for that plug on every Rock Band 2 guitar! Basically, this is just a footswitch that triggers star power, but we love it. It’ll work with the new bass, the Rock Band 2 guitars and at least the latest Guitar Hero guitars as well.

Getting airborne, Alex showed off a new Saitek flight stick for HAWX, as well as other flying games. If you’re into flight sticks, this looks like a no-brainer thanks to a low price point ($50) and the fact that it works with virtually any other flying game as well.

Finally, there’s no video, but check out this sweet Street Fighter faceplate. Our crappy pic can’t do it justice. There’s a PS3 skin and controller faceplate too.

Jan 14, 2009

Eric Bratcher
I was the founding Executive Editor/Editor in Chief here at GR, charged with making sure we published great stories every day without burning down the building or getting sued. Which isn't nearly as easy as you might imagine. I don't work for GR any longer, but I still come here - why wouldn't I? It's awesome. I'm a fairly average person who has nursed an above average love of video games since I first played Pong just over 30 years ago. I entered the games journalism world as a freelancer and have since been on staff at the magazines Next Generation and PSM before coming over to GamesRadar. Outside of gaming, I also love music (especially classic metal and hard rock), my lovely wife, my pet pig Bacon, Japanese monster movies, and my dented, now dearly departed '89 Ranger pickup truck. I pray sincerely. I cheer for the Bears, Bulls, and White Sox. And behind Tyler Nagata, I am probably the GR staffer least likely to get arrested... again.