Even though this stick has been out for months, and even though I’m a huge arcade nut, I just barely got around to getting my hands on the Hori EX2 arcade stick for the Xbox 360 for review. I’ve had experience with the Dead or Alive 4 stick that came out for the Xbox 360 not long after the console’s release, but there were a few issues that I had with that joystick. The Hori EX2 immediately felt like an upgrade the moment I took it out of the box. Keep reading for specific details.
The joystick itself is lightweight (only a couple of pounds), but it still feels like it’s a quality built stick. The curved button layout is reminiscent of Japanese arcade buttons, so those that grew up on Street Fighter II with its six button straight row layout will need a few moments of adjusting to feel comfortable. The buttons themselves are leaf switches, something I very much appreciated. Rather than a noisy click with each button press, you get complete silence. The joystick uses standard microswitches, so it does produce clicks. Also, the joystick is using a square restrictor plate, so hitting diagonals is a breeze. Overall the stick is put together quite impressively and has a very comfortable layout. But how does it perform with Xbox Live Arcade titles?
Games like Pac-Man: Championship Edition work very well with the Hori EX2
Obviously the EX2 can only be played with games that make use of a single stick. This limits the stick to be used with a smaller number of XBLA titles, but it drastically improves the playability of each title you use it for. Using the Xbox 360 d-pad or analog stick for games like Street Fighter II, Pac-Man: Championship Edition, Paperboy, Ms. Pac-Man, and others is a real pain in the neck. The d-pad is a squirrelly piece of junk, and the analog stick lacks the exact precise nature of a digital input, so the EX2 solves these issues by offering arcade perfect controls. After swapping out my standard 360 controller for the EX2, I was able to consistently pull off fighting moves, make sharp turns in Pac-Man, and avoid misdirections in all my games. As much as I love XBLA, the EX2 is a godsend.
At $59.99 (some online sources are cheaper), the EX2 is a pricey peripheral, but I’d argue that it’s a must have for those that are serious about playing the XBLA games regularly or competitively online. While you can still get a higher quality stick from custom arcade stick makers like Timoe or Kaytrim’s Kustoms, this is easily the best option for those looking to pick up their stick from a retailer.
Dimensions: 11″ x 8″ X 1.5″