The Playstation has plenty of arcade ports and fighters to justify the purchase of an arcade stick, or two for that matter.
After spending way too much time in the arcade, I waned an arcade stick of my own for the Playstation. I was playing Street Fighter Alpha 3 at the time and was getting some serious hand cramps from prolonged playing. I also wanted something for my favorite shooters.
I picked up a Namco NPC-102 and a couple Hori Fighting Stick PS’s for a good price and have been very pleased with both. The sticks have different hardware which I will attempt to explain in detail.
The Namco NPC-102 is a fight stick at heart. The stick is a Japanese style ball top with a bright yellow ball and buttons in a dark grey plastic case. The bottom plate is thick metal and does have rubber feet to keep it from moving on a flat surface. The metal plate adds enough weight to make it feel of quality. Another nice addition is the silver sticker. Each stick has this on the back panel. They are either printed in Green and Blue and as far as I have researched, they do not represent different internal parts.
The stick on the Namco NPC-102 is clicky and has a medium engage distance to make quarter and half circles with ease. The gate is square too, so the stick has 8 easy to hit positions along with the dead zone in the center. The stick uses a small circular actuator that presses Omron microswitches. All of these attach to a PCB that is located directly under the buttons.
If you are browsing through the photos, you may have noticed that the circuit chip on the PCB has HORI printed on it. That’s no mistake or replaced part. HORI designed this stick for Namco to brand in 1996.
The buttons on the joystick are snap-fit and have a good feel with little to no clicking sound. They have a flat top and do not get stuck on the surrounding plastic housing. If you are looking to replace the buttons in this stick, it may be a little more work. The buttons are surface mounted to the PCB.
Hori Fighting Stick PS
Compared to the Namco-NPC-102, the HORI Fighting Stick PS feels slightly less sturdy. This stick also has a thick metal plate as the base with rubber feet. The plastic housing is thinner and is very light. This can make the stick feel a little cheap, but don’t judge it based on that.
The stick on the HORI Fighting Stick PS is a little tighter than the Nacmo. There is much less play between the actuator and the LEMA microswitches. This makes for a much tighter and responsive feel, which plays great for shooters. It also has a square gate for 8 positions.
The PCB is a very simple design and is located in the free space in the housing, unlike the Namco stick. This will help if you are trying to replace the buttons.
The buttons on the Fighting Stick PS are very clicky and have more tension in them. This gives the feel of knowing exactly when you press the microswitch if you are paying attention. They are snap-fit and have a convex surface. I noticed that the buttons can stick a little to the housing if you press in an odd angle. This was never a problem during gameplay.
Both of the sticks are great for different reasons. The Nacmo NPC-102 is perfect for fighting games and feels better with rolls on the stick. This has it’s downside, as the response can feel a little sluggish in that one level in a shooter that makes you hate yourself. The Fighting Stick PS solves this issue.
The Fighting Stick PS feels a little better to me because of the responsiveness in the stick. I prefer using it for any shooter and arcade game. The buttons also feel much better to me with the satisfying click.
I would rank these a step below the professional sticks. While both are much better than most generic ones, they still have flaws. If you can find either one of these for a good price, it is well worth the investment. Both are very fun to play unmodified.
If you are looking to mod, I did some measurements and found that any decent arcade stick from Sanwa or Seimitsu would not fit in the Fighting Stick PS without some plastic modification. No swapping there. The buttons would be an easy replacement for the Fighting Stick PS, and both could probably get a little better with replaced microswitches inside the joystick housing. These would be easy to replace in either stick.
My initial intentions with these sticks were to replace the parts with Japanese arcade parts. After playing both, I lost this desire. It may be laziness or good feeling joysticks, I’m not sure. I do know that these are still not up to par with the quality of Japanese arcade parts like Sanwa or Seimitsu. I’ll save that project for another day.