Today’s special guest blog was written by EVOLUTION 2012 Street Fighter X Tekken 2v2 Grand Champion, Ryan Ahn, better known as “LAUGH” from our very own Western Wolves team. Aside from being a world-class fighting-game player, Ryan is also a tech enthusiast and one of the leading specialists when it comes to Korean arcade parts. We’re glad to have his wisdom with us today!
When I am at tournaments, people may recognize me as LAUGH, the Korean Street Fighter player, but what some people may not know is that I have had a keen interest in things related to joysticks and gaming hardware for more than 10 years.
Although my knowledge is not limited to one type of stick, it would be fair to say that my knowledge and experience regarding Korean joysticks are unmatched. And today I would like to share a new joystick in development by Crown, a leading Korean arcade parts manufacturer, which will make it easier than ever for everyone to start playing on the Korean Fanta-style joysticks all around the world.
A lot of gamers are familiar with the Japanese lollipop-style joysticks from makers such as Sanwa and Seimitsu, but not as many are aware of Korean joysticks. So before I start showing the new stick in the works, a short introduction to Korean joysticks seems appropriate.
Anyone who has taken brief interest in joysticks or has followed the competitive TEKKEN scene may have heard about a Korean joystick called the Fanta stick.
Myoungshin Fanta Stick
This was a revolutionary joystick for Korean gamers, first introduced in Korean arcades back in the ’90s, and it has since been accepted as the gold standard for joysticks in the Korean gaming scene for both arcade and home. Players have come to love its amazing neutral/directional performance & versatility with various genre of games (fighters, shooters, beat’ em-ups, etc). Due to its unique rubber tension system and circular corner-less movement, Fanta sticks are known for fast return to neutral and smooth inputting of commands that require full/partial circular motions on the joystick.
These key features (fast neutral, easy motions) can provide an advantage in TEKKEN, a game that requires constant movement at high levels, and with the recent release of TEKKEN TAG TOURNAMENT 2, some of those looking to get better at TEKKEN may have thought about swapping a Fanta stick into their existing lollipop-style Japanese stick, such as the popular Mad Catz FightStick Tournament Edition series. There’s only one problem: the vastly different mounting specifications between a Korean Fanta stick and Japanese sticks makes it impossible to install a Korean stick where the Japanese stick used to be without major modifications to the case/mounting area.
This is where the idea for Crown’s new Fanta-style joystick was born.
A joystick that has all the features of a Fanta stick and can be easily mounted on existing Japanese-style fight sticks/cases/panels, so FightStick owners can also play on Korean Fanta-style sticks with minimal investment and effort.
Above, on the left, we have a Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition S (Chun-Li Version) fitted with the default Sanwa JLF joystick, which will serve as our base for this guide. On the right, we have an authentic Korean TEKKEN 6 arcade control panel (Namco Noir layout) fitted with a Myoungshin Fanta stick and Crown buttons, which will serve as the reference for the Korean joystick standard.
When we take a closer look at how the Sanwa JLF and the Myoungshin Fanta stick are installed, a few things become apparent as to why the two styles of joysticks are not interchangeable.
Looking at the Myoungshin Fanta stick, we can see that it has a black base directly underneath the (green) handle. This part needs to poke through the top panel to be properly installed, as shown in the photos above.
On the right, you can see the big difference in the size of the joystick holes when you compare the two standard layouts.
It’s easy to realize that the black base of Korean sticks will not fit through the smaller joystick hole on the Mad Catz FightStick. Even if you have the tools and skills to enlarge the joystick hole on the Mad Catz FightStick, it doesn’t solve our next challenge: the mounting.
To install a joystick, it needs to be firmly screwed onto the case using bolts, but the two standards have assigned completely different mounting screw positions. In the above left photo, you can see the Sanwa JLF and its mounting plate (left), and the Myoungshin Fanta stick and its mounting plate (right). In the above right photo, you can see the two mounting plates stacked on top of each other. None of the screw holes align.
These two reasons, joystick hole size and mounting screw positions, are primarily what prevent Korean sticks to be installed into Japanese-style panels, and vice versa.
Now take a look at the new joystick in development by Crown, which will be the first joystick to offer inter-compatibility with the Japanese standard:
You will notice that Crown’s new joystick does not have the black base underneath the handle. The difference is especially apparent when the upcoming Crown joystick (white) is placed side-by-side with the Myoungshin Fanta stick (green).
Now let’s compare the mounting screw positions between the new Crown stick and a Sanwa JLF:
In the above left photo, we have the Sanwa JLF joystick and mounting plate on the left, and Crown’s new joystick on the right. In the above right photo, you can see the two mounting plates stacked on top of each other. Notice how the screw holes are now aligned.
With both primary causes of incompatibility overcome, all that’s left to do is to install the new Crown joystick into the Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition:
STEP 1 – Disassemble the joystick shaft from the Crown joystick by removing the E-clip at the bottom of the shaft.
STEP 2 – Align the Crown joystick to the FightStick mounting bracket and screw down the joystick using the old screws that held the Sanwa JLF in place.
STEP 3 – Wiring. Sanwa JLF uses a 5-pin single connector (3a), whereas the Crown uses individual connectors for each direction (3b), so we use an adapter cable for solder-free wiring adaptation (3c). Connect the Crown joystick adapter cable to the 5-pin connector on the Tournament Edition FightStick (3d).
STEP 4 – Reassemble the joystick shaft and dust cover onto the Crown joystick, then reassemble the rest of the panel back into the Tournament Edition FightStick’s case/body.
When everything is complete, this is how the finished result will look.
My playtest of the newly modified Tournament Edition FightStick proved decent, considering it was a prototype model with a few performance tweaks pending.
Once released, it’d be safe to say this new joystick from Crown will be able to provide an affordable gateway to everyone who has yet to experience Korean sticks, and I cannot wait to see the final product.
For the complete Korean arcade experience, using Korean Crown buttons on these Japanese-style FightSticks is also possible, and I will cover that in another topic if people are interested.
Crown is currently working out the kinks of the prototype joystick, and you will be able to grab the retail joystick from my web store, etokki.com, when it is released.