| paleface [sys=PS3; cat=Hardware; loc=JPN] |
|Hori's Real Arcade Pro 3 stick was one of the first decent arcade sticks to come out of the PS3, advertised as having actual arcade parts, so I snapped it up without doing any real research on it. Well, turns out that while the stick is an actual arcade stick, I think (Sanwa), the buttons are cheapo non-arcade Hori buttons. Hori released a "SA" ("Special Addition") version of the stick not long after with actual Sanwa arcade buttons in it, which they really should have done in the first place.|
The Hori buttons in the bog-standard RAP3 feel okay: comparable to the buttons on other decent sticks Hori has produced (the gray and yellow Namco stick for PS1, and the Soul Calibur II sticks for GameCube, for instance--see entry 898), and to the buttons on the Capcom vs. SNK sticks ASCII put out for the Dreamcast (see entry 895). Having found out they weren't arcade buttons, that knowledge began to gnaw at me, and finally I swapped them out for Sanwa buttons.
The base of the stick is very broad and heavy, with thick plastic on the sides and a heavy metal plate on the bottom. This is excellent for holding solidly in your lap while playing. It's also excellent for being fairly easy to open (you do need a 7mm nut driver to get some rather trickily placed nuts off, though), and you can pop out the stock buttons and pop in actual arcade buttons; the Sanwa OBSF-30 and OBSF-24 (these 24mm ones are for the Start/Select buttons) I picked up fit the holes in the faceplate even better than the stock ones did. You can also use Seimitsu snap-in buttons, according to what I've read.
The difference between the stock buttons and the replacement, actual arcade buttons is pretty apparent: the stock buttons take a slight amount of force to press and activate--not due to a spring resistance, but more to just a slight mushy feel--whereas the arcade buttons activate almost effortlessly; in fact, I found I was pressing them accidentally just from the weight of my fingers resting on them. Nice. They're also supposedly much more durable; I can't attest to that yet, but they did look much more sturdily built when I was installing them.
Interesting trivia note: back when the RAP3 came out, you couldn't actually use PS3 joysticks with PS2 games (PS1 games worked okay); that only got fixed in a later PS3 firmware update. I think it was due to some sort of legal hassle they were getting about DualShock vibration patents or something equally silly.
Okay, so the RAP3 has a ball-top Japanese arcade stick, and eight buttons in two curved rows pretty close to it; this layout is similar to Japanese arcade cabinets I've played on. There are 24mm (the regular buttons are 30mm) Start and Select buttons above the two rows of regular buttons, and a small control row in the upper left of the face plate has the PlayStation button, a turbo button (haven't tried), and buttons that work like pressing in on a regular controller's analog sticks (L3 and R3). Next to those is a slider that lets you toggle the stick between acting like the D-pad (default) or one of the two analog sticks on a regular controller; I haven't really used that feature so I can't say how well it works.
The PlayStation button--as with the other buttons in that cluster--is not clearly marked, and it's a small rubbery thing whose pressed status is vague, so using it from this controller is kind of a pain. It's a minor complaint, but that button is necessary for getting around and out of PS3 games, so it would have been nice if it was easier to use.
Still, with its arcade stick and very nice base, the RAP3 is a pretty good stick, if you aren't super-picky about having the very best buttons known to man. Since there are sticks out there now that come with real Sanwa arcade buttons from the get-go (the Hori SA stick, and MadCatz's (expensive) Street Fighter IV sticks), I can't say I'd recommend picking up a RAP3, unless you already have replacement arcade buttons just laying around for some reason. If you do make that operation, though, you'll have a stick that really does feel like a good Japanese arcade cabinet.
|Download added: modbuttons.jpg (50457 bytes)|
"Modified with Sanwa buttons; US quarter for scale."
As you can see from the photo, this is a big stick (that's a US quarter coin on the floor at the bottom of the image). My thumb has apparently begun to wear off the faceplate decal below the X button. The six bolt-heads you can see around the edge of the faceplate are the ones that you have to use the 7mm nut driver on to remove, once you've unscrewed the regular rear screws and removed the metal base plate. The red buttons shown here are Sanwa buttons that I installed; the stock buttons are orange--matching the stick--for the face/shoulder buttons, and yellow for the Start and Select buttons.
|Hey, I've already had the modded buttons help me out: with the stock Hori buttons, I couldn't do a "TK CS" with Cammy in Street Fighter IV, but with the new buttons, I can.|
(The "TK CS" is a glitch way of doing her Cannon Strike jump kick special move without actually leaving the ground; you have to move the stick from down to down-back to back, then over to up-forward, and you have to press and hold a kick button between the stick going from back to up-forward; it's weird timing and I just couldn't get the hang of it with the regular, slower buttons.)
|The stick the RAP3 comes with is a Sanwa JLF-TP8Y-SK; I'm told by a fairly knowledgeable fellow, SignOfZeta, that the JLF sticks have "gates" (the restrictor plate around the end of the joystick inside the case that limits its range of motion) with a rotating center, and the JLF-TP8Y-SK appears to be no exception.|
So if you unscrew the outer case, unbolt the inner case (you'd need a nut driver or at least long-nosed pliers for that), and pop off the gate, you'll find the inner circular part can be pressed in at the back, which then lets you rotate the gate 45 degrees: this makes the stick's four cardinal directions deeper, and cuts of the diagonal motions.
Why would you do this? Pac-Man, of course! Or any game that uses strictly four-way control, but Pac-Man is the obvious star there. It's surprisingly tricky to corner reliably in the Pac games with a standard 8-way stick, but once you've snapped the gate around in the RAP3 (not that you want to be going back and forth with it on a regular basis, because accessing it is a chore), you'll be Paccing away like a pro.
|Download added: msp.jpg (112165 bytes)|
"Ms. Pac-Man button color scheme (for Pac-Man Museum)."
Now that I've rotated one of my JLF gates to 4-way in what I think will be a long-term move, I noticed an odd clunkiness to the movement now and then, as if the stick was catching somehow; turns out this is because the inner "dustwasher," the little black plastic disc that sits free around the base of the stick to prevent dirt from falling down into the pivot, was hitting the sides of the funky non-flat JLF mounting plate in the RAP3, thanks to the increased throw distance of the 4-way operation. Trimming the edges of the dustwasher to prevent the collision fixed the problem.
The built-in mounting plate is a problem in other ways, though. I've read that you can't install a Seimitsu stick to it without doing some additional work (haven't tried this myself, could be totally wrong), for instance, and when I tried to take the JLFs from my RAPS and put them in another stick (Hori's RAP4, Hayabusa Kai version or something), I had to go to the hardware store to get some nuts and bolts in order to fasten it on, because the levers are fastened to the RAP3's built-in mounting plate with two big top/bottom screws, rather than the usual four smaller screws right around the base of the lever.
|Not surprisingly I was totally wrong about mounting a Seimitsu lever, Googling tells me you can do it quite easily so long as you also pick up the correct Seimitsu mounting plate for it.|
|While it's a super-solid stick, the HRAP3 is a bit primitive ergonomically speaking, by modern standards. The top of it is not level; it slopes gently downward toward your hands, which means that it is bending your wrists backward, if you're trying to keep your forearms level. Not great. And while it has far more wrist-rest space beneath the stick and buttons than HORI's current HRAP design (based on Viewlix arcade cabs, supposedly), it is just barely enough for my relatively tiny hands, and significantly less space than is afforded on sticks from other manufacturers (Mad Catz, etc).|| ||