Impressions: Alt Lab's Smash Stick: Analog Arcade Stick


The Best Arcade Stick For Super Smash Bros.

For as long as I’m been invested in traditional fighting games, Fight Sticks or Arcade Sticks, whichever name you prefer, have been my controller of choice, at least for PlayStation systems. However, for the more casual fighting games, such as anime games or the party brawlers like Smash Bros, I just used a regular controller—it really never occurred to me to play them using a Fight Stick, especially since I never had one on Nintendo systems until the Nintendo Wii, for Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. That’s when I started playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl with it, but it didn’t feel too natural and went back to using the Gamecube controller and ditto for Smash for Wii U.

After that, it remained as a crazy idea in my mind. It was just so unconventional for me, and it didn’t feel too comfortable. A year later, I heard about the Hit Box and the Smash Box (essentially a Hit Box for Smash Bros.) from news articles and YouTube, and really wanted to get my hands on one, which I finally got to try out both during CEOtaku 2017. However, despite being accustomed to Fight Sticks, I felt like a total newbie using the Hit Box and essentially the Smash Box, too. It was a nice experience, but it just made me stick to my Fight Stick for my traditional fighters and my good ol’ GameCube controller for Smash.

Come CEOtaku 2018—it was just supposed to be just a day of me chilling with my friends, just enjoying one of our biggest hobbies—Fighting games, as well as the various arcade rhythm games offered in Jebailey Land. Taking a few steps back, I was sitting on the floor watching Dragon Ball FighterZ’s Top 8, I believe, for the most part, my eyes were glued to the big screen. However, I noticed there was this unorthodox-looking stick next to me, and I was curious on what it was, so I approached the booth to take a closer look and read “Smash Stick” and it had a balltop and 11 buttons, totally different from the Smash Box. I had to try it out, so I made an appointment to try it out. 

Finally, it was my turn. I played Smash Bros. for Wii U for around 30 mins with Josh, one of the guys in charge of the booth, and one of the developers of the stick. It felt overwhelming as there were too many buttons to mess with, but at the same time, I was already liking the stick a lot more than the Smash Box as it still felt a lot more familiar. With the 30 mins I got, I was messing with it with Toon Link and Lucina and I got a good gist of the controller, but it wasn’t enough. I had a good feeling of character movement since it was a stick as opposed to buttons, but I was still struggling how to properly attack, and my muscle memory wasn’t adjusted. I didn’t mess with the C-Stick buttons, either. Take in mind, I haven’t played Smash for a while prior CEOtaku either, so I didn’t remember too much about it. 

A few months later, a few days after Ultimate’s release, there was a local Smash tournament in Orlando, in which the guys at AltLabs—the developer of the controller, were present at. So, I got to try out the controller with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate instead with my usual characters—Toon Link, Young Link, Roy, and Lucina, but instead of just 30 minutes, I did get to try out the controller for a couple of hours. While I didn’t remember much about the controller. I did play the game for hours when unlocking characters, so I was already used to the game. 

Like my first time using it, I already had fight stick experience so character movement using the stick wasn’t really an issue. Additionally, the joystick felt nice in general—not too stiff but not too lose either, like the Razer Panthera. The best part of the joystick is that it’s analog as well. The buttons placement in arc form was nice too, which is usually how I place my hands when using a fightstick. Again, I didn’t try using the C-Stick buttons too much as it felt like it would be another level of getting used to the controller, but they were reachable when I was messing around with it at my own pace instead of the middle of the match, but I was mostly focusing on playing with the main buttons. Slowly I was getting adjusted to it such as doing Smash attacks, regular attacks and tilts in all directions. 

Overall, I had a good experience with the controller, and I would recommend it for Fightstick users that want to play Smash Ultimate with one. While I didn’t personally try it with any other game yet, as its mostly advertised as Smash controller, the game works with other Fighting games as well considering it's cross-platform—it works for PC, N64, GameCube, Wii, Wii U, and Switch and it’s just matter of swapping the cable. This is one of the best sticks I’ve used and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

You can check out the arcade stick's official website here.

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Christian Chiok
Christian ChiokContributor   gamer profile

Christian has been a gamer since his early childhood. He's a big fan of the King of Fighters and the Metal Slug series. Additionally, Christian enjoys cooking, listening to music, watching anime ... more + disclosures



Filed under... #featured #fighting game #Impressions #wii #wii U



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