Very reactive buttons and stick
Comfortable, lightweight and stable design
Good quality built in terms of buttons and joysticks
Full compatibility on Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC
Greatly priced in comparison to competition
Lots of training needed to get used to this one
Can be tricky to customize
Design is a bit bland in comparison to competition
No Turbo mode
With the Real Arcade Pro series, Hori intends to highlight its know-how in the arcade stick business. Where most of its competitors opt for a Sanwa-based assembly, the Japanese manufacturer uses its own in-house Hori Hayabusa joysticks and buttons which could be a risky bet, but makes sense once in hand. The question though, is it enough for the Hori Real Arcade Pro V Kai to be considered the best arcade stick in the market?
Arcade sticks in the world of gaming are exactly like mechanical keyboards for PC gamers. Searching for the optimal performance, players want a quick button press that is instantly responsive in game, but to that certain magical golden point. It is only by training and perfect control of its own hand coordinations that players can truly enjoy the advantages of a proper arcade stick, and so comes the main characteristic of the Hori Real Arcade Pro V Kai. Equipped with controls that are more eager to blast actions than the competition, it offers the possibility of being more effective, if only one acquires a better control of its maneuvers and joystick rotations. It’s a real advantage, if and only if you are willing to give it a little of your time and concentration, especially if you are used to the competition like the good ol’ Mad Catz or even Razer and Qanba Sticks.
As mentioned in the intro, if the Sanwa buttons and joysticks are now the reference of most arcade sticks sold around the world, it doesn’t trully mean that they are the best components, but just what became a norm. You see, switching to Hori takes a little time to adapt for those either perform competitively with the competition’s products or in my case got used to them even as an semi-professional player (still a big fan of my Mad Catz Arcade FightStick TE2+). But in the end, it’s all about getting used to the new kit… You see, the HAYABUSA joysticks found in the Hori Real Arcade Pro V Kai are close to the classic Sanwa JLF-TP, with a shaft cover and flat mounting plates, found in most Mad Catz TE sticks, but at a slightly lower angle and a return to the center faster. Even if the point of contact remains roughly the same, both full round trips and rotations require you to be more precise, with less ample gestures. The speed of execution is thus increased at the cost of a higher risk of error, especially during the first parts of a rotation, but rest assured, once you are used to it, the sensations are excellent and this precision becomes more of an advantage than a defect.
The same could be said of the buttons that are on the Hori Real Arcade Pro V Kai. The Hori Kuro buttons offer a touch very close to the known Sanwa OBSF30, but with a slightly less curved surface and a rougher finishing coat, which makes it more sensitive, and offering a much higher point of contact capable of ensuring a faster strike. On the other side though, the buttons are extremely sensitive, to the point that I’ve triggered them by mistake when just resting gently my fingers on them, something I was used to do with other arcade sticks.
Without affecting its excellent stability known from previous models, the Hori Real Arcade Pro V Kai is actually thinner my Mad Catz TE2+ or even the Razer Panthera. The main different is the with the width of the stick, which reminds me of the traditional arcade terminals from the 1980s or 1990s Vewlix, even in the button placements. The latter is a configuration with 2 rows of 4 buttons which is more broad than its competitors, even though their mountain plates are quite close to each other, which are fun to play with, unless you got really small hands. However, I’m totally against with the position of the Start button (or Option if playing the PS4 Hori Real Arcade Pro IV Kai version), located just beside the action keys, and but thankfully you can alternate between a view or menu mode, which basically removes the risk of pressing pause by mistake during a tournament match for example (which can cause you a game or even a competition disqualification in some instances)
On the right side of the arcade stick, you’ll find extra control keys, including a quick stick control toggle switch between the D-Pad or left analogue stick, as well as a platform switch between Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC, without installation of driver. In comparison to the PlayStation model known as the Hori Real Arcade Pro IV Kai, you won’t find a Turbo mode at all.
For those of you that are into customizing your kit, the Hori Real Arcade Pro V Kai can be a pain to alter in comparison to the competition. The main faceplate for example is actually a vinyl glued to the metal plate that holds the stick and buttons, and to change that, you’ll end up having to get yourself a replacement plexiglas. As for the mechanical elements like the buttons or joystick, they are replaceable but will require you to unscrew and remove the bottom plate. Also note that the USB cable for the stick can to be stored in its own in-house compartment in the back, soldered directly to the card with a damping system to ensure its protection.
The Hori Real Arcade Pro V Kai was reviewed using a review unit provided by Hori. The arcade stick is available now in all major retailers and compatible with PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, and you can also get its PlaySation 3 and PlayStation 4 alternate which is the Hori Real Arcade Pro IV Kai . We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.