Skip to main content

Hori Fighting Stick Alpha review: "Ready for the next round of competitive play"

(Image: © Future)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

The Hori Fighting Stick Alpha succeeds in being a fully featured fight stick for the PS5 and PC with responsive buttons, a stellar stick, and a customizable nature befitting the investment price.

Pros

  • +

    Hayabusa stick and buttons

  • +

    Customizable nature

  • +

    Native console and PC compatibility

Cons

  • -

    Bulky and on the heavier side

  • -

    High-end price tag

The Hori Fighting Stick Alpha has been freshly revitalized for the next generation of consoles with both models, regardless of platform, working natively on PC. With its exceptional performance and consumer-friendly practices, this unit can stand out as not only one of the best PC controllers (opens in new tab) and PS5 accessories (opens in new tab) around. If you've waited for a fight stick that's ready to go straight out of the box then this is an admirable performer for all types of competitive fighters. 

Design

The Hori Fighting Stick Alpha is your everyday fight stick on first inspection. There's your Hori-standard Hayabusa stick and 8-button layout in the usual 4x4 configuration. Our particular review unit is adorned in PlayStation specific color scheme, however, an officially licensed Xbox edition is also available, so all platforms have been considered here. 

As this is the first third-party fight stick officially made for PS5, you've got a fully functional touchpad, along with the start, select, and PlayStation buttons, too. Included is a toggle switch that gives you the profile presets for Sony's latest system as well as the PS4 and the PC as well, so there's full compatibility across the board. Handy for competitive play is the ability to lock the use of the start (and general system buttons) meaning there's no chance that you'll mis-input and pause accidentally when in action. 

Weighing in at a fairly hefty 7.46 lbs / 3.3 kgs, there's some meat on the bones of the Hori Fighting Stick Alpha. On your lap, the extra pounds here mean that this stick does stay in place, but this without question the weightiest model I've ever had my hands on. If you're someone who wants a reliable unit to carry to local tournaments then the size of this one means it might not be ideal for this purpose. 

The overall construction of the Hori Fighting Stick Alpha is respectably rugged yet not quite as premium as the likes of the Cross Up Box (opens in new tab), for example. Plastic is the name of the game here, and while easily able to take a beating for sure, features thick bezels meaning it isn't exactly elegant. Function is prioritized over form here. 

(Image credit: Future / Aleksha McLoughlin)

Features

The largest strength of the Hori Fighting Stick Alpha lies in where it breaks convention, though, as customizability is a huge factor with this stick. With the simple movement of one slide latch, this unit lifts up on a hinge to reveal the underside.

Doing this gives you an up close and personal look at all the buttons, wiring, and switches available, which makes any potential replacements and upgrades needed super easy. If you've ever had a button start sticking or going non-responsive on you before with a simple fix, then you'll appreciate this consumer-friendly inclusion as I do. Once opened, you've got built-in cable management as well, so there's no need to have that lengthy lead trailing when stored to one side. 

What's more, you can also swap out the stock artwork with your own custom designs. As Hori is, arguably, the largest consumer name in the FGC for fight sticks, there's been a lot of fan support for custom prints online. Finding a template only takes a few moments as well, in case you want to print your own. It's a very cool way of adding that personalized touch when you want to stand out at your local tournament.

If you're a console user primarily then the included 3.5mm jack could be useful if you've got one of the best PS5 headsets (opens in new tab) handy. In a similar fashion to how the Dualsense (opens in new tab) can be used in this way, you can keep your gameplay intimate during those long training sessions and ranked matches alike. 

(Image credit: Future / Aleksha McLoughlin)

Performance 

The Hori Fighting Stick Alpha is one of the best fight sticks that I've had my hands on since I started playing fighting games in the first place, plain and simple. While I personally prefer smooth Sanwa Denshi buttons as you'll find on the all-digital Hit Box (opens in new tab), the matte-finished Hayabusa buttons here delivery grippy and no-nonsense actuation when the combo chains started to come out. 

Reservations about the command buttons aside, I can definitely see why Hori is so famed for its Hayabusa Joystick. The eight-way stick works exceptionally well with short travel for incredibly precise commands. I noticed a considerable improvement in Tekken 7 where I was pulling off some of my best-ever plays with Dragunov during online matches. Some of the usually tricky strings became nearly second nature with some of the character's more complex motion inputs. 

In other titles, such as Street Fighter V and Mortal Kombat 11, consistently pulling off everything from your standard Dragon Punch, Half Circle Forward, and Quarter Circle Forward was effortless. I am someone who can sometimes struggle with these shapes on your everyday D-pad, only swapping to the less-than-ideal left thumbstick when absolutely necessary. Playing with the stick this way alleviated what small issues were present.

The bulk of my testing was spent on the PC platform, however, a simple flick of the toggle switch to the 'PS5' setting means you can use it with no problems on your PS5 through the front-facing USB port. I enjoyed most of my single-player experience of Mortal Kombat 11 on this platform, and future fighting games on this system have a bright future with this stick as an option. 

(Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the Hori Fighting Stick Alpha? 

The Hori Fighting Stick Alpha is an excellent effort by the storied arcade-centric company to create a model that's ready for most users. With its native compatibility on PS5, as well as PS4 and PC, anyone who is serious about upgrading from your usual gamepad will benefit from the mechanical stick here. 

Priced at $199.99 / £199.99, the Hori Fighting Stick Alpha isn't the cheapest fight stick that you can get your hands on. However, given its customizable nature and native use for your platform of choice, I personally think it's worth the price of investment all things considered. 

How we tested the Hori Fighting Stick Alpha

I've been using the Hori Fighting Stick Alpha as my main fight stick for the better part of two weeks in both single-player arcade ladders and online multiplayer matches in Tekken 7, Street Fighter V, Mortal Kombat (2011), and Mortal Kombat 11. The stick was tested primarily on PC, but also on PS5 in the latter game. 

You can find out more about how we test controllers (opens in new tab) in our full GamesRadar Hardware Policy (opens in new tab)

We're also rounding up all the best TVs for PS5 and the best PS5 monitors for more accessories. Or, check out the best joysticks for alternative inputs. 

More info

Available platformsHardware, PS5, PC
Less
Hardware Editor

Aleksha McLoughlin served as the Hardware Editor for GamesRadar from June 2021 until August 2022. Her main area of expertise was the PC gaming platform, which comprised buying guides, features, reviews, and news coverage on components and prebuilt machines. She was also responsible for gaming chairs and storage. She now works on a freelance basis while studying to become a university lecturer specializing in English for foreign territories. Prior to joining GamesRadar, she wrote for the likes of Expert Reviews, The Rory Peck Trust, No Clean Singing, Vinyl Chapters, and Tech Spark while also working with the BBC.