I grew up playing fighting games. From Street Fighter II to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, I mashed those buttons with the best of them. Going home and playing on an SNES controller, though, just wasn't the same. That's why I'm so glad that there is such a huge resurgence in the fighting game community these last few years. With that has come a lot of competition in the arcade stick market, which has both increased quality and fueled innovation.
It may not be exactly a household name among most, but Eightarc has really started to carve out its own little niche and today, we are looking at their flagship Eightarc Fusion Synthesis Professional Joystick. If you're looking for a top-tier FightStick, the Fusion Synthesis certainly looks the part.
A Premium Quality Arcade Stick
You don't normally use the words "high quality" and "ABS plastic construction" in the same sentence, but that's effectively what you get here. The Eightarc Fusion Synthesis features a translucent body, offering you a glimpse into the inner workings of this arcade stick. Alternatively, the Fusion is also available in Ebony or Ivory; they're functionally the same, but have far less flashy of an appearance.
It's not just about the look, of course, because the FightStick still has to perform. To this end, Eightarc is using genuine Sanwa parts from Japan for its major components. There's a Sanwa JLF joystick with a clear ball top, housed inside of a square restrictor gate. The eight face buttons are Sanwa OBSC-30 clear buttons, offering a really authentic feel. The 8-foot USB cable is housed in a compartment along the left side. I'd rather the cable come out the back, but that's a matter of personal preference.
As you can see in the unboxing video I posted, even the retail packaging looks premium. Eightarc also bundles in a headset, cleaning cloth and a couple of button covers to boot.
Pre-Modded for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
There are ways to mod your arcade sticks so that they are compatible with multiple systems, but the great thing about the Eightarc Fusion is that it comes pre-modded. This is because it is fundamentally based on the Qanba Q4-RAF FightStick, making this stick compatible with the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and the PC. There's just a simple switch near the top for swapping between the different modes.
This kind of triple-functionality is particularly useful for people who go to in-person tournaments, because you're not sure if the setups there will be using an Xbox or a PlayStation. With the Fusion, you're ready for anything at the flip of a switch. Unlike hard mods that you may do yourself, the cover art on the Fusion already includes the mapping for both Xbox and PS3 controllers too. This way, you know exactly which button is RB, which is triangle, and so forth.
For starters, the Fusion is quite heavy at 9.5 pounds. This helps to ensure it won't move around on you as you toss out those shoryukens. The rubber feet and full black felt bottom further assist in this way. Even though it effectively uses the same Sanwa parts as the Hori, somehow everything just feels more solid on the Eightarc by comparison. The construction is very solid and everything feels very responsive.
I did find that the door for the USB cable was a little on the flimsy side though, especially since the compartment is just barely big enough to house the cable. If they could either provide a little more space or put on a stronger hinge on the door, that would make quite the difference.
Let's Go Fighting in the Streets
But how does it actually perform? To put it to the test, I used the Eightarc Fusion both online and offline to play such fighting games as Super Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter X Tekken. For fun, I also tried a few "retro" arcade style titles too and those worked out just fine. They really reminded me of the old days of hanging out in the arcade, minus the sticky floors and pockets full of quarters.
This stick feels great. The joystick itself is ever so slightly stiffer than the Hori, but not by much. The buttons, which should have been the same but only in a clear variety, did feel a lot better there. The recoil was more pronounced and the overall responsiveness felt better too. I also appreciated that the top cover had a slight ergonomic angle to it, as well as having a sloping front portion as a wrist rest. This aided in comfort for extended gaming sessions.
The added weight really reduced the amount of movement on the arcade stick, particularly with larger movements like Zangief's spinning piledriver. I had no issues with 720s and triple-button presses registered reliably. Admittedly, I am a bit of a masher, but I'm happy to say that the Eightarc's quality really stood up to the abuse.
MEGATechie World Champion or MEGATechie Low-Tier Scrub?
There isn't too much to complain about with this FightStick. The styling is amazing, the weight is great, and the buttons are fantastic. Some people might not like the extra small buttons near the top for the home, turbo, select/back, and start functions, though. The Mad Catz style of putting the start and select buttons on the back is generally preferable. The same can be said about the placement of the USB cable. Relocating it from the left side to the back might be better.
Realistically, these are minor quibbles and they really shouldn't stop you from consider this stick. I really liked both the look and the quality, and having that triple mod function right out of the box really adds a lot of versatility to the package.
The Eightarc Fusion Synthesis sells for $199.99 through Eightarc.com. If you want to save a little money, but still get the same functionality and presumably the same quality, either the Ebony or Ivory variants of the Fusion sell for about $15 less. For my part, the super classy and unique translucent look of the Synthesis is worth the premium.