MEGATech Reviews: Qanba Drone Arcade Joystick for PS3, PS4, PC
- Officially PS4 certified
- Tournament mode lock switch
- Authentic arcade feel
- No closed cord compartment
- Requires PC workaround
- Doesn’t feel as solid as more expensive sticks
Ever since the so-called “next generation” of home consoles hit — and especially after people started playing Killer Instinct and Street Fighter V on the Xbox One and the PS4, respectively — fighting game fans have been on the lookout for the best arcade sticks to play their favorite games. And what if you don’t have $150 or $200 to spend on a new stick, just because your Xbox 360 and PS3 sticks are feeling a little more worthless these days?
If you want to pinch a few pennies while still enjoying the full arcade experience, the Qanba Drone by Eightarc could be your way to get back into the fight. Are you buzzing with excitement?
Bringing the Stick to the Fight
Qanba and Eightarc have a long history of pushing out arcade sticks that are multi-platform compatible. In the previous generation of consoles, they did so mostly through unlicensed chips. The single biggest thing that makes the Qanba Drone so different this time around is that they sought off official Sony certification such that this stick can be sold as an officially licensed Sony product. It officially works with the PS4 in an official capacity.
Perhaps almost just as notable, the Qanba Drone is being positioned as more of a budget arcade stick. It’s not quite as cheap as the cheapest sticks, but at $80, it’s also significantly less than its more expensive counterparts. It’s not exactly the $50 Qanba Carbon, which I absolutely love, but it’s still pretty affordable. To achieve this price point, just like the Carbon, the Qanba Drone comes with Qanba parts rather than sourcing buttons and levers from Sanwa.
The Street Fighter Experience
A few things struck me immediately about the Qanba Drone. If you like the heavier and more robust build of a full-size stick like the excellent Eightarc Fusion Synthesis, you’re going to find that this arcade stick is too small. That said, it’s nowhere near as compact as the MadCatz FightStick Alpha or the Hori Fighting Stick Mini 4 either. It’s somewhere in between, which might be the Goldilocks zone for some fighting game fans.
Geared toward semi-serious play, the Qanba Drone features a “tournament lock switch” near the top to lock out the PlayStation menu buttons (options, share, etc.) to prevent accidental presses. The more compact size also makes it more conducive to travel. There’s also a cord compartment for that USB cable, but it’s not like the enclosed compartment you find on many other sticks.
Instead, the space underneath the wrist rest is hollow all the way through, giving you a place to shove your cable when the stick isn’t in use. This is nowhere near as elegant of a solution as having an enclosed cord compartment with a latching door. It works and is better than nothing at all, I suppose, but I hardly found it to be ideal.
As far as the actual playing experience, my impressions are generally positive. At three pounds, the Qanba Drone has a bit of weight though it’s still lighter than some of its direct competitors. I did find that it would move around on my lap sometimes, but I do tend to be pretty rough in the heat of battle. I never found the spacing between the stick and the buttons to be too cramped, which was an initial concern when I saw this positioned as a more compact or mid-sized arcade stick.
The Qanba buttons feel pretty good, though maybe a touch on the “loose” side. The same can be said about the stick (lever), which is also a touch on the “loose” side as well. The cheaper plastic build doesn’t provide the same kind of heft as larger, more expensive sticks either. Though it doesn’t come with table clamps, the Qanba Drone has been designed to be used with the same ones that come with the Carbon if you like playing that way.
Does the Qanba Drone Work with PC Too?
The short answer is yes, but there’s a rather significant caveat. Switching between use on a PS3 or PS4 is easy enough. All you have to do is flip the toggle switch near the top. If you look at the official product page on the Eightarc website, you’ll see that the Qanba Drone is described as being compatible with PC too.
That’s true, but it requires a workaround. I bumbled around a number of online resources and forums in search of a solution, because I could not get the Drone to work “out of the box” with me on my computer. This was true with Street Fighter V via Steam, just as it was true with Killer Instinct through Xbox Live Games for Windows.
Without getting into the technical details, the challenge was due to the difference between Directinput controllers (like this, as well as most other PlayStation controllers) and Xinput controllers. In going through the forums and posts, I tried a DS4 to Xinput wrapper, something called ScpDriver, the X360ce app and more. It seemed like the PC recognized it and the inputs would show up in the test window, but it would not work in any actual game.
Just when I was almost ready to give up, I came across JoyToKey. It’s a simple Windows app that effectively lets you map joystick inputs to mouse and keyboard inputs. It had no problem recognizing the Drone and it just took a little trial and error to get the key mappings above for Street Fighter V while in PS3 mode on the Qanba Drone.
This also means that you’ll need to remap the buttons (you can save different profiles) if you switch games. It may not exactly be the most elegant of solutions and you do need to have JoyToKey running in order for it to work, but it does work. And, as far as I was able to experience, there is no discernible input lag.
MEGATechie Quarters Up or MEGATechie Crashing Drone?
For anyone who wants the full arcade experience with a “real” arcade stick on their PS4 (or PS3 or PC, for that matter) without spending much more money, the Qanba Drone is a pretty decent option. It’s certainly more robust than other “budget” sticks, like the MadCatz Alpha or the Hori Mini 4, and it’s really comfortable to use.
I’m not a modder, but for those of you who are, swapping the cheaper Qanba buttons for something nicer is a relatively straightforward affair. Swapping the lever can be more challenging and replacing that honeycomb artwork can’t really be done unless you just plaster a vinyl print on top. But even using this stick as-is, you won’t be terribly disappointed.