With the growth of fighting tournaments like EVO and such, we’ve seen a lot more Fightstick controllers on the market, dedicated to all things combos and brawling related. But one that popped up just a little while back that’s taking the world by storm is the Hitbox controller. There’s one interesting little change with this that other people are starting to pick up on, and, at first glance, it’s rather strange – it’s a Fightstick controller that doesn’t include any sort of fightstick.
That’s right, it’s all buttons. You have the four general movement buttons for up, down, left and right, as well as the typical punch, kick and block buttons, laid out similarly to what you see in other fightstick controllers of this type.
But can it work? Can someone actually execute immaculate super moves and other techniques by just tapping a few buttons? And why is it catching on so much with the industry these days?
Join us now as we take a closer look at the Hitbox controller, and what makes it work so surprisingly well.
It’s All In Button Play
We’ve seen a number of fighting pros adopt these types of controllers, including Justin Wong, who’s been legendary on the Street Fighter circuit for years. But why? Well, one major advantage with a Hitbox controller compared to a Fightstick controller is that the stick won’t actually get worn out. Sure, that means buttons take more tapping, but SANWA- level buttons can actually take this without wearing out. A joystick controller, on the other hand, can wear over time within a few dozen matches or so, depending on the wear and tear going into them.
But, more importantly, some swear up and down that the speed and accuracy of executing fighting moves comes off more quickly with buttons than with a joystick controller. That’s because the inputs are a little more quickly read, and you can easily tap the left and right buttons to set up more of a neutral position, compared to letting go of a Fightstick if you’re walking or jumping in a certain direction.
To some, this might not be a big deal, but for others that have mastered certain “fight arts” like air blocking and wave-dashing, they can mean everything.
Not to mention the fact that using a Hitbox for long-term play is a lot easier on the hand. Instead of gripping a joystick that can leave the inside of your palm worn out, you simply tap buttons to execute your moves, saving wear and tear on the rest of your hand. Granted, it probably wouldn’t hurt to wear gloves to keep your fingers from getting callouses, especially if you play long-term like most tournament fighters.
There Is a Learning Curve
Even with these advantages, however, jumping into a Hitbox isn’t as simple as riding a bike. In fact, the first time you use it, you may shake your head and wonder just how “stupid” the concept really is. After all, you’re adjusting to a new style of play. You’re used to a rolling motion of down- down/forward-forward and hitting a punch button to throw a fireball. With the Hitbox, you now have to change that to the down button into a transition to the right button in a smooth manner. It will take time and patience to get the hang of.
But we’ve seen people who, over time, could master all sorts of games with the Hitbox. In fact, we’ve even seen a few of these during Smash Bros. tournaments, to the point that some organizers were concerned that they provided players an advantage over typical Fightstick controllers. And maybe, in a way, they’re right. But they also challenge players on a level they wouldn’t expect.
Let’s make a simpler comparison. The Hitbox controller compared to a regular controller is sort of like using a keyboard and mouse to play PC games compared to a typical gamepad. You adjust to a certain style of play and, for many, it works. And yes, they can be that far apart, as it’s really a matter of inputs. But if you get used to it long enough, you may consider the Hitbox to be a favorite.
How Can I Try Out the Hitbox?
Well, if you’re ready to make the purchase, you can buy it on most websites for about $250, though it doesn’t have the innovative design of, say, Razer’s Fightstick line-up. However, you get what you pay for, with quality SANWA parts and a layout that you’ll find comfortable over time.
On the fence? Your best bet is to seek out local fighting tournaments. There’s a fair bet that someone will likely have a Hitbox on hand, and you can see it in action. Who knows, they might let you try it out as well.
Again, it’s a big choice to make, and one that you’ll have to readjust to completely if you’re so used to a certain style of play. However, for many fighting pros, it’s become a pivotal choice. And who knows, it might just be yours as well.
Check out Justin Wong’s hands-on with the Hitbox below. Want to learn more? Visit the official Hitbox web page!
Want a new console to play your Hitbox controller on? We’re giving one away!