Mortal Kombat X Official Wired Fight Pad – PS4/PS3
Like most folks, I’d preordered my copy of Mortal Kombat X primarily to get the “exclusive Goro” that came with it. Not to say that I wouldn’t have bought it anyway, but I don’t generally concern myself with preorders. As I stood in an abnormally long (and slow) line to pick up my copy, those big banners touting the MK Fight Pad grabbed my attention. And when I got to the counter and started talking to the guy about it, he mentioned that he had some for the Xbox One but not the PS4. (I was buying the PS4 version.) A second later he did a double take, and pulled “the last one” from the shelf. Clever marketing on his part, or good luck on mine? We may never know. But it didn’t take long to convince me to tack on another $49.99 to my bill (on top of the $30 Kombat Pack and the game itself).
So how does this rather modest controller stack up in the world of haptic feedback, touch panels, dual analog sticks, motion sensors, and accelerometers?
For the most part, it’s quite nice. It’s got a very “Genesis 6-button controller” look and feel to it. The right side (the side with the buttons) , is actually slightly shorter than the left, a fact which I didn’t really appreciate until I got it in my hands. The buttons are laid out in 2 rows of 3 – Square, Triangle, L1 on top followed by X, Circle, and R1 on the bottom. R2 and L2 are on the right and left shoulders respectively, much like the R and L buttons of an SNES controller. The front is made of smooth, shiny plastic with a modest MKX theme, while the back is made of something hard and solid, yet slightly soft to aid with grip. No analog sticks are present, just a single D-pad on the left. There is no analogous feature to the DualShock 4’s touch pad (or its function as a button) or to the L3 and R3 inputs. However, the “Share” and “Options” button are located along the upper edge. There’s also the “PS” button located front and center, which is made out of an interest foam/soft plastic material. A small switch for changing between PS3 and PS4 compatibility rests on the front, near the bottom. Finally, the controller is wired and attaches to the console via USB.
Alright, there’s form, now let’s move on to function.
At first it felt a little small and lightweight in my hands (and I do not have big hands) but I quickly re-acclimated to the less bulky design. I wasn’t sure why the right side (buttons side) was shorter, but I soon realized it allows for a slightly different grip that makes it easy to pivot one’s thumb around the 3 columns of buttons. The weird soft-ish backing is pleasant and ensures against needless slipping.
The buttons themselves, as well as the D-pad, have very shallow pushes, and they’re also very “clicky.” They feel sort of loose, but in a good way. What it all adds up to is a situation where you can be confident that your button presses have been registered (the “clickiness”) while also moving around to press several buttons as quickly as possible (the shallow depth). Right out of the box I was a little skeptical – it seemed a little jangly – but almost immediately after playing with it I realized what the designers were going for. These are not simply DualShock 4 buttons moved over to a new shell. Entirely new “pushing mechanisms” are at work here and it really does make a difference during gameplay for those of us who’ve had a hard time adjusting to more modern controllers when it comes to fighting games.
The shoulder buttons are equally easy to reach and press, and the D-pad is one solid piece, yet it’s in the shape of a cross (not a circle) so it’s easy to tell exactly where you’re pressing, which is a huge help when considering the precision sometimes necessary for fighting titles. Older controllers sometimes opted for one big round D-pad, which was often spongy and could be somewhat imprecise due to the ease with which it registered diagonal inputs. Even controllers with 4 discrete buttons were often just the surface of a larger one piece or structure, allowing for some of the same issues. Though the Fight Pad’s D-pad is one piece as well, it really feels like individual buttons are being pressed underneath it all.
I was a little concerned about the wired aspect of the controller. The cable has ample length, but I would’ve preferred the route that Nintendo has taken with being able to plug the controller into an existing DualShock 4. Still, there are some benefits. For one, the MKX Fight Pad can truly act as an extra controller since it need not be tethered to an existing controller, and secondly, there’s never any concern about running down any batteries. Unfortunately, the PS4 doesn’t seem to recognize the MKX Fight Pad quite like it recognizes a DualShock 4. I was unable to turn on the PS4 with the Fight Pad’s PS button, nor bring it out of “Rest Mode.” Instead, I had to use a DS4, which prompted me to sign in. Only then would it accept pushing the PS button on the Fight Pad, whereupon it made me sign in again. Of course once I selected the same person, it automatically cut the DS4 off. It’s not a huge complaint, though I did find it odd that I still needed to fiddle with the DS4 for a few seconds before getting underway.
Despite the light weight, the controller appears to be plenty durable. I’ve dropped it several times and all seems well, and even after hours and hours of use the buttons still have that attractively loose and “clicky” quality. My only problem so far has been the paint on the buttons. The right side of the square printed on the Square button has almost completely worn off, which really shouldn’t be an issue so early on. Granted this button does get a lot of action and it’s also where my thumb wants to naturally rest, but I still think it’s ridiculous that the print is wearing off so quickly.
I’m not thrilled about losing some paint, but ultimately it doesn’t really affect the controller’s performance. The only issue that I have with the MKX Fight Pad so far is that there are no tactile cues to help you navigate around the 6-button layout. All 6 buttons feel exactly the same, and it can be difficult to tell exactly where you’re pressing sometimes. For the most part I could tell whether or not I was on the top or bottom row, and I could tell if I was on the first button of the row, but the last 2 buttons on each row tripped me up more than once. For example I could be hitting L1 over and over thinking it was Triangle, or repeated pressing R1 thinking it was circle; the latter happened/happens to me quite often. Most controllers will feature a little clue to help distinguish the buttons, such as a little dot or ridge on the middle ones, or utilize different sizes for some of the buttons like the 6-button Genesis or N64 controller does. I appreciate the smooth and uniform aesthetics of the Fight Pad, I just wish they’d give me a hint where my finger was.
The biggest drawback of the official MKX Fight Pad is its functionality within other games. While perhaps not as hopeless as it first seems, there are some strict limitations.
Technically, the MKX Fight Pad will work with any game, it just lacks any sort of input for some of the possible controls. As long as you’re playing a game that doesn’t need the right analog stick, the touch pad, L3, or R3, you shouldn’t have any issues. Naturally this knocks out a ton of possibilities from the get-go, but it is and will be useful for other fighting games. Give it a whirl on Injustice for instance.
The MKX Fight Pad also works perfectly well on your PS3. It may be a little too late for some, but I know for a fact that I’m going to revisit Mortal Kombat (2011) with the Fight Pad in tow! Switching between PS3 and PS4 functionality is as easy as flipping the switch on the front of the controller itself.
Is it time for you to rush out and pick up one of these nifty official MKX Fight Pad controllers? That depends on how much you play fighting games on your PS4 and/or PS3. You might can find the oddball game here or there that makes no use of the right analog stick, but chances are that this controller will be relegated only to fighting games. For an extra $10 you could go ahead and get yourself a new DS4 with loads more functionality, and truthfully, playing Mortal Kombat X with the DS4 wasn’t as bad as I had been expecting. (I never thought I’d say this, but it actually took some adjustment switching over from the DS4 to the Fight Pad!) The MKX Fight Pad is a well-made throwback controller to those of us with fond memories of such (except for the button paint), but to be honest, it is a little pricey for what it is. Then again, it’s also a nice piece of Mortal Kombat memorabilia, so I suppose that does warrant a little more value.
If you absolutely hate modern controllers in fighting games and absolutely love fighting games, I’d say grab it without delay. If you’re a more casual fan, you may want to keep your eyes open for price drops and used offerings, but be careful; though the Fight Pad isn’t rare, I’d suspect that production was capped at something modest. All in all it’s a lovely controller, even if its usefulness is inherently limited.
Also check out these other articles related to Mortal Kombat X:
- Mortal Kombat X – PS4 – Review
- 10 Things that MKX Did Right
- Top 10 MKX Brutalities (with Video)
- Top 10 MKX Fatalities (with Video)
- Top 10 Worst MKX Fatalities (with Video)
- Tanya Video Demo
- Jason Voorhees Video Demo
- First Impressions – MKX
Reviewed by The Cubist
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