Just in time for the Christmas holiday, old faithful, my modded HRAP3, started to show signs of wear. The main issue was the USB cable was starting to tear at the point it enters the case. I’ve had this stick for about 4 years and it has been heavily used in that time frame so it’s demise was not too surprising. After looking into all of the available sticks, I decided to stick with Hori and bought a Real Arcade Pro v3.
The first thing you’ll notice upon taking the v3 out of the box is the weight. It is much lighter than the HRAP3, MadCatz TE or any other large stick on the market. In fact, it’s only slightly heavier than the MadCatz SE stick. The other point that I immediately checked out is the wiring into the case. The USB cord is reinforced and sits on the base of the stick inside the compartment that houses the cable, reducing stress at that point and eliminating the possibility of the same fault as the HRAP3.
The v3 is all stock Sanwa parts. My old HRAP3 was modded with a Seimitsu LS-56 and Seimitsu clear buttons. The adjustment to Sanwa was a bit tricky as moves are far easier to perform on the looser Sanwa stick. For XIII, I find Sanwa to be better whereas I prefer Seimitsu on older SNK/P games.
The panel with the Home button and turbo switches has been moved away from the stick and over the buttons. It’s far enough away that I have yet to accidentally activate anything in the panel. The same is true of the start button which is to the right of the action buttons. The turbo button on the HRAP3 was somewhat mysterious. Basically, the player held down the turbo button and pushed an action button, which bound the turbo action. If this was accidentally activated by, say, hitting the turbo button with the edge of the left hand, it was easier to unplug the stick than try to deactivate turbo. The v3 has turbo sliders for all buttons with different speed settings. It’s lower tech than some sticks and that’s a good thing.
As I mentioned, the v3 is light. I think its weight is about half of the HRAP3. The v3 is also wider, as can be seen in the photo below, but the weight feels more evenly distributed. I’ve found that the v3 is far less likely to slide around on my lap as I play KOF than the older model. The v3 is slightly shorter and less bulky than the HRAP3.
The default look of the v3 is nice, if bland. It uses the black, white and red color scheme that is currently all the rage. Each button has a pale gray circle around it with a slightly darker gray ring around that circle. In most photos, this looks like a white glow. It’s a nice detail and won’t look as odd if button colors are changed as the white would. The start button is a dark gray color which is nice and would have been a better and more unique look for the stick if all of the buttons were this color.
One odd thing about the case is the lip on either side. It protrudes about an inch from the case and provides a nice way to handle the stick and to pass it to another player, if that situation should arise. I quite like the look of the case.
The Hori Real Arcade Pro v3 is compatible with PS3 games, PS2 games on backwards compatible PS3s, PSOne games played on the PS3, as well as Ubuntu Linux and Windows. I don’t have a Mac to test it on but, since it worked in Linux, it should also work on OSX.
Opening the case on the v3 is far easier than on the HRAP3. On the HRAP3, there were 8 screws on the bottom and then 6 countersunk bolts which had to be unfastened from the bottom. On the v3, there are 8 screws on the bottom panel, similar to the MadCatz SE stick. The wires used in the v3 are much thicker than the HRAP3 and the button clips on the v3 have a nice plastic covering over them. The thicker wires feel more durable and less likely to break when changing buttons. The PCB is labelled so it’s easy to change around the button configuration, which I tend to do.
The Real Arcade Pro v3 is the best arcade stick I’ve had the pleasure to use. The lighter weight makes it more convenient to transport, the build is solid and the compatibility is excellent. The panel is more comfortable than any other stick I’ve used. The shape of the top of the case is more comfortable for the hands and feels quite natural. Another point to note is that the HRAP v3 is an officially licensed Sony product. This means that it will always be supported by PS3 firmware updates. I’m not sure if all of the sticks on the market bear this license but it is worth considering.
+ Light and the weight is evenly distributed
+ Nice default look, if a bit generic
+ Turbo sliders for each button
+ Unique case design with handles
+ Storage compartment for the USB cable
+ Improved cable-to-case connection
+ Easier to mod than the HRAP3
– Too many buttons!