Last year’s EVO Championship Series event was interesting, to say the least, and of course it was exciting. You had Dragon Ball FighterZ giving the reigning champ, Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, a run for its money in the top position, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was making a ruckus over at Nintendo’s booth.
However, sometimes the best surprises can sneak up on you. A company by the name of Victrix Pro was looking to make a name for itself with its new line of peripherals, including a fight stick featuring an aluminum build that stood out from the others. Many called it a marvel, mainly due to its PCB response time (reportedly faster than other sticks on the market) and its customization options.
After I got my hands on the Victrix Pro FS, it definitely feels like it belongs in the Mercedes class of fighting peripherals. That said, it’s also priced accordingly, something that we’ll discuss as we break down what the stick includes and how it performs. Be prepared to pay quite a bit, though – Victrix isn’t a company that’s going cheap.
First off, let’s talk about that aluminum build. With this frame put into the stick, not only is it comfortable to perform moves with (even complex combos in something like, for instance, Killer Instinct on Xbox One), but it also has a sturdy base. That means you can put it on your lap and there’s no danger of it sliding off, something we’ve seen with cheaper sticks on the market.
On top of that, the layout of the stick is quite comfortable when it comes to placement of hands. You do have to put the joystick in its peg with a little effort (thanks to an included mini-wrench). But once you do, you’ll find that it, along with the Sanwa buttons on the face of the controller, works wonderfully when it comes to reach. In fact, we’ve barely struggled at all with our fighting sessions, trying out such games as Dragon Ball FighterZ, Soul Calibur VI, Tekken 7 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 with it.
The peripheral is also nicely designed. The model they sent us was the sleek black design, though you can opt for special Street Fighter-painted sticks if that’s the route you want to take (they’ll likely be a little higher in price, just a warning). As for the bottom of the pad, it features a slick chassis with purple stripes on the left and right, along with the Victrix logo. It’s pretty slick.
Then there are the features on the stick. First off, the carrying handles, built into the frame of the Victrix Pro, are fantastic. It just feels like a natural fit and makes it more convenient to carry around. This is good for those who want to lug around a fighting stick but still leave one hand free.
There’s also a separate part of the design that lets you carry the stick around with a strap, if you prefer. The only downside is that it actually isn’t included with it, so you’ll need to purchase it separately, and the joystick is easy enough to pop on and off, should you want it to fit somewhere flat.
On top of that, there’s also a latch on the bottom of the stick so you can access the wiring underneath it. Now, if you’re a casual fighting fan, you probably don’t want to mess with these too much. That said, however, if you’re one of those people who lives and breathes by modding, there's some good news for you.
These items are easy to access and tweak however you see fit. I didn’t do it myself, but they’re quite accessible, provided you know what you’re doing. It’s good stuff if you feel like adding some sort of custom design to your stick.
Finally, there are notches on the back of the stick, along with a 3.5mm port for your headphones, and a plug-in for the USB-C cable that connects to your console. The peripherals work just fine with the stick; and those notches, well, help you wrap the cable when the stick is not in use, which neatly attaches with a little notch on it so the cable doesn’t dangle loose. It’s pretty awesome, not to mention practical.
Now let’s get to the next part, where we talk about one of the Victrix Pro’s niftiest features: lighting.
Like other PC accessories, the Victrix Pro enables you to set up different lighting. It comes through in both the top panel with the upper row of buttons located right above the joystick and Sanwa buttons, as well as on the sides through some really cool neon-lit paneling. Don’t worry, there are no bulbs that you have to replace here.
There are multiple settings for the lighting, depending on what approach you want to take. There’s a plain color if you just want to see what the options are (we’ll get to that when it comes to customization), along with a multi-flashing set-up where various spectrum colors mix and mesh, and the ability to set up a certain color if that’s the route you want to take.
On the one hand, it can take a bit to learn some of the settings, which we’ll also get to later, but the lighting design for the Victrix Pro is really incredible. It brings a vibrant lighting set-up that we normally don’t see in fightsticks and makes it stand out from the pack. I was really impressed with the options here, and it just made me want to play with the stick more, which I did for casual games like Arcade Series: Galaga and Castlevania: Curse of the Moon, both of which performed reasonably well with the stick.
Now let’s get to what really matters here- how well does the stick hold up when it comes to performance?
First of all, if you’re a fighting fanatic, the Victrix Pro will definitely be your speed. We played a few frenetic rounds of BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle and found tag switch-outs and combos to come off like second nature with the Sanwa buttons performing up to speed. And while the joystick can take some getting used to (depending on whether you use the normal or “taller” one that’s included) you’ll find its response to be just as good, especially when it comes to more complex double fireball motions like you’d perform in Ultra Street Fighter IV.
Some folks may not be too fond of the Sanwa buttons, instead preferring the concave ones that are featured on other models, but I can’t complain here because they perform up to speed when it comes to executing punches, kicks and whatever other features you take advantage of in a fighting game. You also won’t have to worry about wearing them out, as they take a pretty good amount of mashing without even showing the slightest wear.
Now, one thing you’ll need to keep in mind is that this is not a wireless stick. That’s probably not a surprise because of the lighting and focus on performance. Regardless, the USB-C cable that’s included is wonderful, attaching to your system and having the right amount of length, so you don’t have to worry about the cable pulling out of the system, like on cheaper models.
As for casual games, you can set up analog-style control with the stick, through the convenience of the manual that’s included in the box. This is a vividly designed manual, and one that breaks down all the features exceptionally well. Make sure you have it on hand just to assure that all the features are broken down for you.
While I don’t really recommend tweaking too much of the performance outside of what the fighting stick is made for, it’s neat that there are options available for those that really want to take advantage of them. Besides, we’re pretty sure this thing would probably be pretty smoking with an action game or two. It sure is great on some of the classics, like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Frogger.
Next up is customization, and there are a few features here that are worth nothing.
First off, the buttons on top of the controller let you tweak different things including the lighting, which can change at the push of a button, and the volume on your headset, should you want to focus more on the in-game sounds or talking with your friends that you’re competing against. These are easily tweaked, though not much good if you’re not using a headset. Still, if you are, it's a nice option to have.
The select and start buttons (in this case, for the Xbox One model) are on the left and right side of the top row line-up, along with the Home button way on the left side. These operate very well, though why they’re so wide apart is beyond me. Maybe that’s just how the design is supposed to be practical. Certainly not too much of a bother.
Then there are the three Pro buttons, located on the right side of the top row. With these, you can configure button settings for whatever fighting games you’re in the mood to play, so that it’s all set to go without having to go through secondary menus. Play a lot of Dragon Ball FighterZ? Then you can set up options there, and leave the other two slots open for games like Mortal Kombat 11 or Injustice 2. The choices are yours.
Overall, the stick is very easy to program, even though some options, like tweaking through mods and tweaking analog performance on some games, might be better left for experts. But if you’re feeling brave enough, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t jump here. Besides, you can always perform a factory reset if the settings aren’t quite to your liking, which is nicely broken down in the included manual.
Now we get to the part that will be a "make or break" point for the Victrix Pro FS. Relax, it won’t “break” easily, but the price is definitely up there.
Whereas most sticks go for around $180 to $200, depending on quality, the Victrix Pro is priced way up there at $349. That’s also just for the basic model, and going for one of the Street Fighter special editions, which are likely to be offered at EVO this year, will probably be slightly higher.
Some may balk at that price, considering that’s almost as much as a console itself, and that’s understood, but Victrix Pro did not skimp on the quality here and it shows. The design is not only convenient but perhaps the slickest I’ve seen yet from a fighting game; the materials are unmatched, assuring that the stick will last you a good while, regardless of how many hours of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition you put in. This is the sort of stick that has long-lasting value, even if you travel to events frequently.
While the price may leave some people gasping at their wallets, and some of the features may be best left to the hardcore, the Victrix Pro is a phenomenal peripheral. Its performance is right up there with other sticks on the market, and in some cases beyond; its design is elegant and really nails down features that a lot of players might be looking for and its lighting is really something that makes the peripheral stand out in a crowd. You even get a nice thank you letter from the general manager of the company, printed on see-through paper.
If you’ve got the cash and the savvy to own the ultimate fighting stick, this is the one you’re going to want. Dive in and get to brawlin'!
RATING: 9.5 out of 10
(Disclaimer: Victrix Pro sent over a model for us to review on Xbox One. It’s also available for PlayStation 4, and both models work for PC. Now where's the Switch version?)