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Hardware Review - 'Universal Soul Calibur II Arcade Stick'

by The Cookie Snatcher on Oct. 18, 2003 @ 1:50 a.m. PDT

Do you find that you’re missing that arcade feeling when you’re swinging your battle-axe in SOULCALIBUR II? Now you can bring the full arcade experience home and pummel your enemies in style with the official SOULCALIBUR II Universal Arcade Stick. Nuby Technologies was so kind to send us a sample and our resident Soul Calibur II fanatic was all over it like a cheap suit ...

Universal Arcade Stick

Platform: PS2, NGC, Xbox
Genre: Hardware
Publisher: Nuby
Developer: Nuby
Release Date: September 01, 2003


It’s not often that a sturdy, functional, sleek-looking, and affordable arcade joystick is released in the states, and it’s even more rare that such a piece of hardware is compatible with more than one system right out of the box. But Nuby’s Universal Soul Calibur II Arcade Stick is all those things and more. With a retail price of only $39.99 and a sweet-looking design featuring original SCII art, Nuby’s new stick is sure to appeal to both Soul Calibur II veterans and fighting fans alike.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Universal Soul Calibur II Arcade Stick upon lifting it out of its triangular-shaped box is its funky curved edged design and handily small footprint. Upon further observation, it becomes apparent that despite the way it looks it’s surprisingly sturdy and well-built. The buttons emit a healthy clicking sound when depressed and retract instantaneously, streamlining the button-mashing process that is all too necessary when playing Soul Calibur II. The joystick is club-shaped and features spot-on resistance that is nearly on par with the newly introduced “digital joysticks” released for the arcade version. The layout consists of two rows of four quarter-sized buttons, with the middle four buttons emulating the arcade formation. Each button is also clearly labeled to represent each console’s respective function, though the lack of the familiar A, G, B, and K designations that appear on the arcade game are sorely missed.

The smallish size of the arcade stick is somewhat deceiving. It’s only as big as an old-school NES Advantage, yet it emulates an arcade experience admirably. Chock it up to intuitive design, but it is equally comfortable to use while holding it in your lap or while sitting on a flat surface.

It is without doubt that this joystick is up to snuff both technically and in practice, and certainly brings a believable arcade experience to the comfort of your own home. But the fact that the controller can be plugged into the PS2, GC, or Xbox will undoubtedly be its main selling point. And rightly so. There is nothing worse than buying a brand spanking new arcade joystick only to find that it is limited for use on a single console (though at the bargain basement price of forty bucks it wouldn’t be such a bad deal). Luckily the “Universal” part of the unit’s name is more than just a marketing gimmick as it truly does function with aplomb across all three platforms.

While the Universal stick is specifically designed for use with Soul Calibur II, it is by no means limited to only that game. In fact, the design and layout of the controller is suited perfectly for every Street Fighter game as well as Tekken and Virtua Fighter 4 (though the club-stick on the controller can’t compare to the digital pad on the dual shock when it comes to VF4). Since there are eight face buttons on the SCII joystick it boasts more than enough firepower to adapt to even the most demanding fighting game, and the inclusion of programmable macros and a handy turbo function make the unit even more attractive. Did we mention this thing only costs $39.99?

As of this writing, you can expect to see the Universal Soul Calibur II Arcade Stick at your local gaming shop of choice, though it was slightly delayed to market due to a few last minute modifications that had to be made to the artwork that appears on the controller’s face. We’re not sure what changes had to be made to the SCII illustration that features a highly detailed and stylized evil Soul Calibur sword, but whatever they were it was worth the wait. The artwork really does add quite a bit to the joystick’s aesthetics, the fire-engulfed sword on the face of the unit looks simply amazing.

Towards the Christmas holiday, Nuby and Namco will be teaming up to offer this third-party controller and the game, presumably for a marginally lower price than each respective unit would cost if purchased separately. So if you have yet to buy Soul Calibur II then you may want to hold off until the game/controller package is released.

Nuby’s Universal Soul Calibur II Arcade Stick managed to consistently impress us with its comfortable design, more than functional layout, surprisingly sturdy base, and off-the-hook aesthetics. Long story short: this is the arcade stick to own when it comes to Soul Calibur II, period.

Score: 9.4/10

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