Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro Review

Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro
OVERALL VERDICT
A huge improvement over the Neo Geo Mini in many ways. The selection of games is good, the build quality excellent and I really like the design.
PROS
+ 20 built-in classic SNK fighting games
+ Unique retro-style arcade stick
+ Can work as a dedicated fightstick for various platforms
CONS
- Parts are non-Sanwa
- Difficult to mod joystick lever

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The Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro is the latest in SNK’s line up of emulator products, with the previous one being the Neo Geo Mini. These products are essentially like plug-in consoles that emulate the original Neo Geo’s greatest games.

The Arcade Stick Pro focuses more on fighting games which is no surprise considering what it is and looks like – an arcade stick. Unlike a traditional fightstick, however, the Arcade Stick Pro offers 20 (technically you can unlock more with a hack) built-in fighting games from SNK.

Not only that, with the right adaptor, you can also use this as a traditional fightstick on PC, PS3, PS4, and Switch.

On Amazon US, there are, essentially, three bundles to choose from which offer different accessories and are more expensive depending on which one you choose. The first is just the stick by itself with the 20 built-in games.

The second bundle is known as the Arcade Stick Pro Controller Pack, and you get an additional GameLinq adaptor to use the stick as a controller on PS3, PS4, and Switch. The first bundle doesn’t have this so it saves you having to buy it separately. This is the version I went for.

The third bundle and the most expensive is the Arcade Stick Pro Player Pack. As well as getting the GameLinq adaptor you also get two extra mini Neo Geo controllers which allow you to play local multiplayer.

That’s all well and good, but how does this stick hold up as an actual fightstick compared to its competition? Should you get the Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro? Find out in this review.

Unboxing and set up – what’s in the box and how to set it up

As with other fightsticks, the Neo Geo is well packaged to protect it from any potential knocks or bangs whilst in shipping.

Included in the box is the stick itself, an instruction manual, and, in the version that I got: a GameLinq adaptor, USB-C charging cable (no plug adaptor though) and some rubber anti-slip pads to stick on the bottom. Quite a lot, I have to say, especially compared to a normal fightstick where you would, most likely, only get the fightstick and an instructions manual.

Setting up stick/console involves plugging in the USB-C cable into the stick and then to a power outlet (I just used a plug adaptor from my phone charger). Then, you have to connect an HDMI cable from the stick to your TV or monitor. It should be noted that an HDMI cable didn’t come with my bundle but I already have an abundance of these cables lying around, so no biggie.

In order to connect to a console to use as a controller, you have to do a couple of things. I used this on the PS4, but I believe the setup is similar to other platforms. First, set the top switch, located on the side of the stick, to the left-most position. There’s also another switch located just under which needs to be set to 3. Then, just connect the stick to the console using the GameLinq adaptor and you should be good to go. Also, remember to press, the START button on side of the stick in order to register it on the PS4.

The design and feel of the fightstick

It’s no secret that the design of the Arcade Stick Pro is supposed to look like the classic Neo Geo controller. I like it. I think it makes it look unique compared to other sticks.

The stick is not that big compared to my other larger fightsticks but then it isn’t exactly small either. In fact, I think it’s pretty much the perfect size for its purpose of playing classic fighting games.

The stick feels pretty good too. The outside shell is made of good quality plastic. It feels strong and is unlikely to crack or break easily.

At 5 pounds (2.2kg) it’s not the heaviest stick but has a nice weight to it reinforcing its solid build quality.

Overall, the Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro feels quite comfortable to hold. I tend to play my fightsticks on my lap and the weight allows it to stay in place.

What does it feel like to play?

Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro
Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro

I think I’ll talk about how the stick plays as an emulator console and then how it plays as a dedicated fightstick.

Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro games

Firstly, as I mentioned, the Arcade Stick Pro, when plugged into a TV, is essentially a video game console that emulates up to 20 classic SNK games.

The Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro Game List

  • THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’95
  • THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’97
  • THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’98
  • THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’99
  • THE KING OF FIGHTERS 2000
  • THE KING OF FIGHTERS 2002
  • FATAL FURY SPECIAL
  • FATAL FURY 3
  • GAROU: MARK OF THE WOLVES
  • SAMURAI SHODOWN Ⅱ
  • SAMURAI SHODOWN Ⅲ
  • SAMURAI SHODOWN IV
  • SAMURAI SHODOWN Ⅴ SPECIAL
  • ART OF FIGHTING
  • WORLD HEROES 2
  • WORLD HEROES 2 JET
  • WORLD HEROES PERFECT
  • NINJA MASTER’S
  • THE LAST BLADE 2
  • KIZUNA ENCOUNTER

There are also another 20 games that are hidden on the stick but haven’t been released yet. At the time of this review, Metal Slug 1 and 2 have been unlocked, but details on when the others will be released aren’t yet available.

The Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro: Hidden Games List

  • FATAL FURY
  • FATAL FURY 2
  • REAL BOUT FATAL FURY SPECIAL
  • SAVAGE REIGN
  • ART OF FIGHTING 3
  • THE LAST BLADE
  • SAMURAI SHODOWN
  • METAL SLUG
  • METAL SLUG 2
  • METAL SLUG X
  • METAL SLUG 3
  • METAL SLUG 4
  • METAL SLUG 5
  • NINJA COMBAT
  • THE SUPER SPY
  • SHOCK TROOPERS
  • SHOCK TROOPERS 2ND SQUAD
  • LEAGUE BOWLING
  • SOCCER BRAWL
  • SUPER SIDEKICKS

There are some good titles in there from the list of pre-installed games, especially games like King Of Fighters 98′ which are considered classics.

On the whole, the games play fairly well. There are some settings you can mess around with to display the game, in it’s classic, more pixelated form. Or, if you prefer, you can set the display to a more smooth HD like form. I have to say, that I like the more smooth HD setting better. It makes the games look more crisp.

There are some further settings you can tweak like screen size, controller settings, etc. I won’t go into all of them here, but it’s nice that it’s there. One annoying thing, however, is that the controller settings cannot be set uniquely for each game. This means you have to adjust the setting every time you switch to another game. Not ideal, but it’s not a deal-breaker.

Overall, there’s a lot of fun to be had with the selection of games and provides a good deal of nostalgia for Neo Geo Fighting games fans. In addition, the potential release of other games like The Metal Slug collection will please those who are not that entirely into fighting games.

Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro as a Fightstick

The first thing I noticed was that the Arcade Stick Pro doesn’t have any Sanwa parts. Instead, SNK have installed their own buttons and joystick lever. Surprisingly, it isn’t too bad.

Firstly, the joystick lever is square gate and feels noticeably clicky when rotating it around. This is definitely an improvement over the Neo Geo Mini which was missing that audible clicky sound on the joystick.

The buttons, however, do not feel clicky. This is no surprise as they’re clearly not Sanwa. I do like the design, however. The different colored buttons give it a certain retro feel. And, overall, the performance isn’t that bad. I used it on games like Tekken 7 and was still able to pull off combos with ease. It was responsive but I would prefer modding the stick and putting in Sanwa buttons.

As for the other buttons, there are 4 on the side of the stick. These are the TURBO, OPTIONS, SELECT, and START buttons. They’re pretty self-explanatory.

I didn’t get the bundle with the extra controller so I was unable to test out the multiplayer feature. There are some ports at the bottom of the stick (there’s also a headphone jack) that I assume you connect the controllers to and you can then start playing multiplayer.

Modding

As I mentioned, it would be great to mod this stick and install Sanwa parts to make it even better. So how easy is it to do that? Well, kinda.

First off, opening the stick isn’t hard. Flipping the stick around I noticed there was a rubber plug that makes it easy to change the ball-top of the joystick to a bat-top if you wish. To open the stick,  however, there are a bunch of screws that are easy enough to unscrew and it then gives you access to the inside.

Once inside, changing the buttons seems straightforward. It’s just the joystick lever that’s difficult. For a beginner, it’s virtually impossible, without following a tutorial. For an experienced modder, however, it should be fine.

I want to also talk about hacking this fightstick. Yes, you can hack this fightstick and unlock even more games. There are tutorials online that show you how to do this. It’s pretty easy enough to do and involves downloading a few files and connecting a USB flash drive to the system.

The Good

  • Solid build quality
  • Unique retro-style arcade stick
  • 20 built-in classic SNK fighting games
  • Can easily be hacked to add more games and unlock the full list of 40 games
  • Decent emulation of games. Looks good, especially with smooth scaling
  • Can work as a dedicated fightstick for various platforms
  • Clicky joystick

The Bad

  • Parts are not Sanwa
  • Difficult to mod joystick lever
  • UI for emulation looks a bit basic

Overall Verdict

A huge improvement over the Neo Geo Mini in many ways. The selection of games are good, especially with the unlock hack, and apparently there are more on the way. The build quality is also excellent and I really like the design.

I think there are two kinds of people that will get this arcade stick. One, are the Neo Geo fans looking to play a collection of games in one system. The second, are those that want to play these games, but also want a decent entry-level fightstick to play other games on other platforms.

If, however, you are looking for a dedicated fighstick to play games like Tekken 7, Street Fighter or DBZ FighterZ, then the Arcade Stick isn’t for you. Instead, I suggest you go for a dedicated fightstick.

 

Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro

8.3

Design

9.0/10

Performance

8.3/10

Modding

8.0/10

Value for money

8.0/10

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