Before someone chastises me in the comments, let me preface this by saying: I am not a fighting game fan. Sure, I played Mortal Kombat 11 for the story, but once I hit the credits there were no more fatalities to be had. Maybe I’m a casual. Maybe I can’t remember jack shit. Either way, to say I’m surprised at how much mileage I’ve gotten out of the PowerA Fusion Fightpad is an understatement. Then again, I like Sonic the Hedgehog so much my petition to change the national anthem to “Escape from the City” got sent to the POTUS.
With options for Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch—all of which work on PC—this wired controller is my new go-to for classic side scrollers and beat ‘em ups like Streets of Rage 4 (included in your sub to Game Pass for Xbox One and PC). Taking its design cues from the iconic, if short-lived, Sega Saturn gamepad before it, the PowerA Fusion Fightpad is replete with six face buttons, two shoulder bumpers, and a D-pad that takes after one of, if not the greatest directional pads of all time.
To keep with the times, it adds right and left triggers as well, along with customizable toggle switches. One, on the back, turns your LT and RT buttons into left and right stick buttons while the front slider transforms your D-pad into a left or right stick. The Switch version’s right bumper doubles as a C-Stick for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. So technically you won’t even need a second controller. Technically. I wouldn’t recommend it for modern 3D games, tempting as it is to absolutely wreck myself in Far Cry 5 co-op.
The coolest thing about the PowerA Fusion Fightpad, though, has to be the modular faceplates. Mine came with two—a white one and a black one. However, instead of black, the Switch version’s comes in red and the PS4's in blue. You can also use it naked, but since there are magnetic grooves punctured all over its face, you probably shouldn’t. I can only hope this trend carries over to the next consoles, where I’ve found the faceplate department lacking since the dawn of the Xbox 360.
Because it’s wired, you’ll have to sit 10 feet from the TV to actually USE the Fightpad, which I find endearing, not only because latency is lower as a result, but because I sit so close to my TV it hurts my eyes, and for some I imagine, the proximity is nostalgic. Equally nostalgic is the microUSB connection; it makes sense considering the Xbox One and PS4 are stuck in the past, at least when it comes to hardware interfaces. The Switch version not so much. On the bright side, the cable is braided to stop your pets (and children!) from biting through.
Whether you’re looking for a legit fightpad that rivals Hori’s Fighting Commander to kick some ass in Street Fighter V or just a decent arcade-style controller to get you through Sonic Mania, the PowerA Fusion Fightpad is worth the spend. Although the idea of playing a fighting game competitively makes me feel uneasy, its familiar shape and layout makes it a lot more versatile than advertised. If you can find a ~legal~ way to do it, take an old Saturn game like Virtua Fighter 2 and SEGA Rally Championship for a spin on your PC with this thing and you’re in for a real treat. And if you can’t, Panzer Dragoon is out on Switch.