You’d have to walk away from all of the bright lights and blaring horns of next-generation gaming in order to locate Japanese arcade stick giant Hori and their booth, an intimate affair and hands-off affair at this year’s E3. While the company had nothing to show for the freshly announced PlayStation 4 or Xbox One consoles (rep Kaz Ohira says they’re hoping to rectify this soon) there was still plenty to show off for the current generation.
Only now the emphasis has shifted to accessories and miniaturized peripherals, a route already travelled with varying degrees of success by the likes of PowerA and Nyko.
Rather that create a plethora of portable controllers right off Hori has taken the subtle approach and started off with official Super Mario-themed carrying pouches, travel cases, and customizable skins that not only protect your Nintendo 3DS XL but also exude a trendy appearance embroidered with Mario and Company. Fans of Nintendo’s mascot (and Princess Peach enthusiasts) should be more than happy with the brightly colored cases, a number that is probably legion.
For owners of Nintendo’s newer home console the officially Licensed Wii U gear, on the other hand, was more focused on keeping the GamePad safe and scratch-proof with a convertible Face Cover that also doubles as a replacement stand. I was happy to see Hori take advantage of their other available licenses, too, with Capcom’s Monster Hunter represented quite nicely.
Of course, high-quality arcade sticks were still the big centerpiece of the booth with the flagship Fighting Edge Stick and its lighter and updated relatives the Real Arcade Pro and Wireless Real Arcade Pro VS-SA. Ohira confirmed to me that fans can look forward to the same durable build and standard issue Sanwa Denshi components to guarantee fighting game precision for countless tournaments to come, as well as an easily customizable face bezel to keep things fresh without having to invest in completely different hardware.
To complement the new generation of arcade-authentic joysticks the latest Fighting Stick Mini was shown, the design is noticeably compact and more ergonomic than its recent predecessor and promises an equally appealing price-tag.
FFor those gamers who aren’t arcade enthusiasts Hori also had more mainstream offerings for FPS and computer gaming with the G.E.A.R. Eagle Gaming Headset, Falcom FPS Pad, and the T.A.C.3 HAWK Keyboard and Mouse Controller. Oh, and a big surprise was the fun (though sadly non-functional) mock-up for Apple’s tablet with the arcade-styled iPad Stick.. No word on when (or even if) this stick will ever leave the prototype stage but given Apple’s recent announcement that iOS will support controller standards I’d love to see that happen.
One of the more frustrating things for me was not having enough time to spend with some of the more interesting controllers and sticks, but time and scheduling simply didn’t allow it this year. But our story with them is far from over (if a certain fellow editor has anything to say about it), especially in the pursuit of getting some of these gaming goodies out from behind the glass and into our fervent hands. And special thanks to a very patient Takuya Ishizaka for helping make it possible. Stay tuned!