Madcatz TE-S Box

The attractive box makes for a good first impression.

So, I recently made the decision to go full retard and buy an exorbitantly priced heap of plastic and metal. Do I regret that decision? In light of some recent personal developments I probably should have spent the money on something more practical, but I have no regrets in regards to whether or not it’s a product worth purchasing. I have no problem acknowledging that in the grand scheme of things I’m merely and intermediate fighting game player, and depending on personal opinion that may be considered generous, but I felt I play and enjoy fighting games enough to warrant a stick purchase. Granted, I was fairly content with playing on a controller even with its disadvantages and I didn’t absolutely need to buy a stick, but the advantages of the jump in directional input accuracy and having all of your buttons laid out on a flat surface are quite nice. Technical reasons aside, playing on a stick also just feels more fun due to the increased hand movement involved; I feel like I’m interacting with the game more with a stick than with a gamepad.

Madcatz TE-S Exterior

The same artwork from the box also adorns the front panel. Six screws keep the panel attached to the frame.

The shell is made of thick plastic with metal panels on the base and on top—the latter being obscured by stylish Street Fighter themed artwork. Internally, you’ll find a combination of proprietary control boards and non-proprietary Sanwa Denshi parts. If any of the snap-in buttons or the joystick die it’s a simple matter to replace them due to their non-proprietary nature. If you’re used to playing on American arcade cabinets you may notice the use of a square joystick restrictor gate and and convex button design. The latter is likely a non-issue for the vast majority of users, and is arguably superior to concave buttons, but the former may pose an issue for some. However, that’s something highly dependent on the individual. Luckily, if the square gate is hard for you to use it’s cheap and easy to replace it with an octagonal or circular plate. And lastly, a word about compatibility: Both the Xbox 360 and Playstation versions will work with the PC, although the PS3 version has some specific USB controller requirements. Also, if you’re the adventurous type and would like to have functionality across all three platforms there are third-party circuit boards available to take care of that

Madcatz TE-S Interior

Up-left: Sanwa Joystick with square restrictor gate; Up-right: Sanwa snap-in buttons attached to quick disconnect cables; Mid-left: Turbo/Home module; Mid/Bottom-right: Connections for the inputs and main control board.

Madcatz used to be a brand that I personally avoided, but over the past few years they’ve made a huge leap in quality compared to my prior experience. While I can’t speak for their other products, I can say with confidence that their top-end arcade sticks are a worthy purchase for anybody looking to get a little more out of their fighting games. I’m writing this review at the end of this specific models life cycle, so by the time you read this you may not be able to find one that isn’t used. However, you can apply my thoughts on this model to other sticks in the Madcatz product line such as the Soul Calibur, Major League Gaming and Street Fighter X Tekken branded sticks (but not the smaller and cheaper “SE”/Brawl product line) for the foreseeable future.