The Fusion FightPad Controller Helps Me Finally Perform a Proper Hadouken

Evaluation:
8/10
?

1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
2 – Lukewarm garbage from Sorta
3 – Highly imperfect design
4 – Some advantages, many disadvantages
5 – Acceptably imperfect
6 – Good enough to buy on sale
7 – Great, but not the best in its class
8 – Fantastic, with a few footnotes
9 – Shut up and take my money
10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $ 60

The PowerA Fusion FightPad, with an AmiiboMichael Crider

Looking at the main controllers for the three main consoles today, you might think that there isn’t much else you can do to perfect a controller. And you would be right! The current double-handle design has served us well for almost two decades. But fighting game fans aspires to a simpler time.

Here’s what we like

Classic layout
Beautiful D-pad and face buttons
Large wire with breakaway

And what we don’t do

C-Stick switch does not work properly
Expensive
Less comfortable than modern controllers

Enter PowerA Fusion FightPad. This simplified wired controller is a shameless reminder of the days of the long-lost SEGA Saturn and its six-button keypad long considered the best by some 2D combat fans. PowerA’s modern revival copies the look and feel of the original, with the SEGA-style circular D-pad, a wired construction only to reduce input lag, and some wonderfully eye-catching buttons from a fine switch supplier known ALPS.

We are looking at the Switch version of this controller. It is also available for PS4 and Xbox One, the only big difference being the central control cluster (start, selection, reception area) personalized for each console.

While it makes some concessions to modern sensibilities, like a full set of four shoulder buttons and a few extras in the central control area for console functions, it is an excellent resurrection of a classic design. It’s an expensive option given its limited capabilities, and if you don’t like fighting games, there isn’t much for you here. But if you are, it’s well worth the investment.

Hit me baby

In its standard layout, the FightPad abandons the two analog sticks and doubles up on the R and R2 (or ZR) buttons, placing them above and to the right of the four normal buttons operated by your left thumb. This gives you six buttons in the classic 2D combat layout: soft, regular and hard punches, same as kicks. If you have already played Street Fighter 2 in the arcade, you will know how it goes: most new and re-released fighters work with this configuration without additional tinkering.

But what about those who don’t? Although the FightPad doesn’t offer real programming, it does have a few settings that you can change via switches on the fly. The left D-Pad can be switched from the regular input of the D-pad to a stick. This means that the console will detect the stick of your D-pad input as if it were an analog stick. So, for example, in Super Smash Bros. where the normal D-pad is reserved for taunts, you can adjust it on the right stick instead (which leaves you without taunts but with full standard movements).

The FightPad D-pad.It’s slimy. Michael Crider

This can be applied to the left or right stick, although the latter is not very useful. That still doesn’t leave you out of luck with most games that require double entry (any type of 3D shooter or third-person action game), but covers at least some of the basics that would otherwise be empty.

There is also a switch on top of the pad: it turns the shoulder button at the top right into a C-stick activator, so you can hold it and toggle the D-pad in C-stick functionality . Or at least, that’s what PowerA Marketing says, saying explicitly that you can use this button for dedicated smash attacks in Smash Bros. When I tested it, it didn’t work – this button didn’t seem to do anything.

FightPad shoulder buttons. This switch does not seem to be working as expected. Michael Crider

I had to do a lot of tests (on my PC, in fact!) Before understanding what was going on: switching the shoulder switch to its alternative position turns the R button into R3, which presses the analog stick right down and “click” on it. It’s good, but it’s useless in Smash Bros. and most other fighting games. This is a big problem in the Switch version of the controller, and I also don’t see how that would be useful on the PS4 or Xbox One controllers.

Look and feel

In fact, using this controller was like stepping into a time machine and picking up the classic six-button keyboard I remember from the Genesis. The six main buttons have lots of cushion and give, and the spring-loaded D-pad floats around. If that doesn’t sound good to you, then you probably had a Super Nintendo – the Genesis / Saturn D-pad was much more “floating”.

This is a desirable feature if you are playing with a 2D fighter, with its controls designed for old-fashioned arcade cabinets. And, indeed, it was much easier to capture the complex combinations of punches, kicks and directional controls than on a more conventional controller. Using the FightPad with my PC, I was finally able to nail combos in the training modes of Soul Calibur 6 and Fight N Rage that I could never nail with a standard controller. The Clicky ALPS buttons highlighted by PowerA are the real deal.

Detachable cable on the FightPad. A detachable cable protects your controller and your console.

However, there are a few other keys that are worth praising. It is a wired controller, to better ban the input offset, but there was a reflection on the wire itself. The USB cable can be detached from the controller, for better traveling with it, and it is a practical 10-foot nylon braid. Even better, there is a detachable cable to the head, so you won’t destroy your controller or console in the heat of the moment.

Other cool features include the full Switch console controls (+, -, Home and Capture) which are replicated for their respective consoles on the PS4 and Xbox versions of the pad. An online headphone jack completes things. Note that the FightPad does not include rumble, NFC, or motion controls for the more esoteric inputs of the Switch.

Playing with the FightPad was good for older 2D games. But my joy at finally being able to use the combat combos correctly without touching the buttons on the shoulder was somewhat hampered by cramps in my palms, which went off faster than usual. It turns out that these large, bulky handles of more modern controllers are there for a reason, and their absence on this one makes it considerably less comfortable to use.

Exchange it

There is an entirely aesthetic feature: the removable front panels. It’s a little strange, but it allows the user to quickly identify the controller that is who, assuming you have many the same at the same party. There are three (red, white, gray) in the package, and they turn on and off with a satisfying magnetic button.

The controller, naked, with his three colors. Michael Crider

It’s a nice touch. Note in particular the deep depression around the D-pad, so that the front panel stays clear of your thumb while you punish this thing. If you are wondering, several front panels are also available on the PS4 (black, white, blue) and Xbox (black, white, gray) versions, although the different button layouts allow you not to switch between consoles. .

A very specific skill set

The Fusion FightPad costs $ 60, as much as the much more modern PowerA controllers, with full button layout and wireless options. For this kind of scratch (and with a little research), you can get an official Dual Shock 4 or Xbox One controller, both of which have full control provisions. In terms of value, the FightPad is unquestionably lacking.

the FightPad with the Switch Pro controller. Michael Crider

But it’s not about value, it’s about reproducing the feeling of playing 2D fighting games on classic consoles. And, since a quality arcade-style fighting stick costs at least as much, and up to several hundred, the high price is an easier pill to swallow. It is useful that, although the three console versions of this controller are not compatible with each other, they should all work on the PC.

I want the FightPad to be more comfortable and its C button to work for the appropriate Smash Bros. inputs. But if you’ve seen the appearance of the button layout and immediately started drooling, I think it’s safe to say that you’ll enjoy it a lot. Go get your hadouken.

Here’s what we like

Classic layout
Beautiful D-pad and face buttons
Large wire with breakaway

And what we don’t do

C-Stick switch does not work properly
Expensive
Less comfortable than modern controllers

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