There is always a burst of joy when picking up nostalgic gaming hardware. Most of us grew up playing with arcade machines, slapping our hands down on colorful tabletop buttons to input commands.
Once you get the hang of it, the Victrix Pro Arcade Fight Stick is a modern, high-quality take on what we grew up using, whether eating pac-dots or sending “Hadoukens.” I’m more of a Tekken guy, but that’s beside the point. Instead, let’s dive into why you may want to consider picking up the Victrix Pro FS, assuming you have $399 to spend.
Style / Feel / Build / Hardware
When I first opened the box and saw the unit shine in the light for the first time, it put a smile on my face. The Fight Stick is just a cool product to have, even if you don’t use it a lot. I picked out mine in purple, but it also comes in white, supporting PS4, PS5, and PC users. The body is made of aluminum, not plastic, and is generally lightweight but not too light. It feels high-grade in your hands, and you feel secure by putting your weight on the unit.
Also, the paint glistens and looks polished. And although it’s a nitpick, I want to add that the paint was a little uneven on my unit at the top right, allowing me to see the hidden hard edge. Adding to the style, the face buttons are engraved for a textured feel, which is a nice touch. There is also a fancy Victrix logo on the top right of the face, making sure you know who made the fight stick. The joystick ball and buttons are made of plastic, Sanwa Denshi to be exact, and the joystick shaft is made of metal. Further, the buttons and joystick ball plastics are easily scuffed, so don’t drop your balls on the floor. On the top of the face, the menu and feature buttons are also “plasticy,” but in a good way.
From left to right, starting with the PlayStation button or on PC; this opens the console home menu (windows+G). The second button is a menu toggle that almost works like an alt-tab on the PC. The button lets you navigate different on-screen menus before selecting your intended window with the x-face button. Also, it functions as the share button found on PlayStation. The brightness and RGB control button change the lighting presets built into the hardware.
Did I mention that the hollowed-out sides of the Pro FS have RGB? Well, it does, and it’s awesome, and this light button controls it. You can also hold down the light button and move the joystick up or down to select the intended preset a different way manually. Choose wisely, as some features include breathing, color cycling, reactive input lights, and more. The next audio button allows you to mute your mic by double tapping or holding it down, allowing you to move the stick up or down to change the volume. We will skip over the PlayStation pad button, but we sure have the infamous center pad.
The Victrix logo button has a few functions, but the summary is that it mainly allows you to change joystick features from analog to d-pad, program other buttons by holding this down, and click what “pro” button to set. It is also mixed into the factory reset feature while functioning as a lockout button, which disables all face menu buttons that we are discussing for 0 accidents. P.S, the pro button also is a training button for certain games.
Lastly, the options menu button opens up your options dropdown found on PlayStation. That’s pretty much it for the buttons, as it wasn’t enough already, but it took me a bit to nail down what each button did for all supported hardware. This review primarily took place on PC and PS4. Moving on from the top of the unit, flipping it over offers a whole new world. You first notice the imprinted Victrix logo on the comfortable foam bottom, making it easy to have on your lap. It seems easily impressionable, so be careful what surface you lay the Pro FS on. On the sides of the Fight Stick, we conveniently see two well-made handles for easy carry, and I use them every time I pick the unit up. These were a great touch that was possible due to the manufactured size.
Most importantly, the Victrix Pro FS makes it super easy to access the internals with a simple clip, which features almost a fully tool-less design to change out parts. Additionally, on the inside of the door, there is a holder for the provided alan key wrench and the extra fight stick-ball and shaft. Unfortunately, this extra metal shaft was the most confusing accessory provided as I could not see how it could be placed into the Pro FS, and the instructions didn’t even mention it.
I later discovered that it is a NON-removable shaft if you wish to customize it, as the default shaft IS removable. I didn’t have much interest in customizing or taking this apart in my time with this fight stick, but it’s straightforward to break it down as most of the build uses hand clips or clips that lock into place. Just make sure your parts purchased will fit before taking things apart, specifically Sanwa parts for this fight stick.
Performance / Hands-On Use / Features / User Experience / Analysis / Etc.
Now that we have spoken about the tried and true build quality and hardware of the Victrix Pro FS, let’s talk about performance. The Pro FS boasts the fastest legal response time, and it is a blast to use. If you are comfortable with fighting games, you will thoroughly enjoy ripping combos, as the pad does not slow you down at all.
The fight stick is placed comfortably close to the set of buttons while leaving a decent amount of open space to move your arms freely when squirming. You don’t feel like your arms or wrists will lack free space because the Pro FS has a nice size. Further, the machined angle of the face gives you optimized placement for your wrist, so your fingers perfectly rest on top of the buttons for the fastest press possible. Although the buttons are quick, I feel like something is missing from the clicking experience.
For $400, if you aren’t giving me RGB buttons, maybe add some audible sound to the buttons to satisfy my ears. Perhaps even a more rigid analog feel to the buttons could work too, but something feels missing from these buttons. They are just a bit boring to press, if that makes any sense. The joystick does not follow this as it has a fun, “clicky” sound when crossing the catch point of each direction. The joystick also feels swift yet rigid enough to decipher inputs correctly. Adding to this, the travel distance required to perform inputs via the joystick feels just right.
The Sanwa joystick allows enough room when inputting and outputting to put your whole elbow and arm into your motions, making your gaming experience feel more natural. However, it certainly takes practice if you are new to fighting sticks. If you have trouble inputting, try changing the joystick to analog stick controls, as it defaults to 8-point D-Pad. You can do this digitally through the Victrix button mentioned above. Send me a comment if you need help.
The Victrix Pro FS was actually quite frustrating to figure out. Typically I would be one not to read a manual, but this is one instance where I needed it the most. I didn’t understand at all. Yes, they are online, but they aren’t very clear on all aspects of the Pro FS. It would be nice if they explained customization more thoroughly, especially the extra fight stick inside the unit, which I couldn’t figure out for the life of me.
The customer experience put a sour taste in my mouth, and I think this is the only place this product falls short. Although I mentioned some minor cons, nothing stood out as a significant negative. I’m sure if you are customizing outside of the bounds of Sanwa parts, you might be frustrated with this unit, but overall, I loved this thing, and it’s made with such care and concern. Noisy Pixel is giving the Victrix Pro Arcade Fight Stick an A-.
Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s top-tier in terms of speed, build quality, and style. It’s fully functional out of the box without customization, and we like to see that. The only things bringing down this review are my customer experience, the time I wasted trying to figure out how this thing works…and maybe the cost. If money weren’t a concern, I would go with the Victrix Pro FS.
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