With the release of a major fighting game comes the inevitable licensed controller. While we usually end up with an arcade stick of some sort, accessory maker PDP has come up with a more affordable option to accompany the launch of the year's biggest fighting game, Mortal Kombat X. This Sega Genesis-like wired Fight Pad is Xbox One and Xbox 360 compatible, and it sells for a price of $49.99. We've been putting it through its paces over the course of the last two weeks and aren't quite sure we've been convinced of its necessity with Mortal Kombat X, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it can't be put to good use.
Cosmetically, the MKX Fight Pad isn't the most attractive accessory on the market. This is largely because the Mortal Kombat dragon logo and the title text are placed in positions that give the whole thing a lack of symmetry, looking like decals that were hastily smacked on as opposed to being carefully and thoughtfully laid out. The glossy plastic used on the face is also a magnet for fingerprints and it's extremely tough to keep clean, while the rubbery material used on the backside is much more appropriate. Honestly, we would've preferred that the whole controller was made of this material regardless of how it looked. But, at least to us, none of these gripes are necessarily deal breakers.
Where the Fight Pad begins earning positive marks is with the quality and performance of its buttons and directional pad. The micro-switch arcade buttons respond to your inputs and rebound very quickly, which is especially evident when attempting the demanding button-mashing Test Your Might challenges in MKX. When it comes to the D-pad, there's no clicking sound like there is with the one on the Xbox One controller, and this allows for smoother rotations for special moves; the pad seems slightly more sensitive, though, so there was a short period of adjustment before we became comfortable with it. The shoulder buttons also present less resistance, but we didn't find that to be of much benefit.
Even with those benefits, though, we prefer the standard Xbox One controller over the Fight Pad when it comes to MKX. But why is that? It's because of the button layout, actually. In MKX, all of your attack buttons – X, Y, B and A – are grouped together. Other moves, like throws and blocks, are mapped to shoulder and triggers, respectively. The way everything is laid out feels fittingly separated, all proper and natural. With the Fight Pad, however, the bumpers have been added as face buttons, which means six buttons are now clumped together in one space, some offensive and others defensive. It honestly feels like too much going on for a single thumb and it complicates things. Sure, you can get used to it in time if you mess with the various button-mapping options, but we always found ourselves returning to a traditional controller after a short while.
So now that we've established that we don't think the Fight Pad feels in harmony with the Mortal Kombat X experience, let's discuss why we believe you might still have some use for it. As mentioned above, this controller works by USB and is compatible with Xbox One and Xbox 360. If you have a large library of 360 fighting games that you suspect might make sense with the Fight Pad's button layout, then you may want to give it some consideration. We found this piece of hardware to be fantastic for Killer Instinct because of the way combos require 2-3 buttons pressed simultaneously. If you manually remap the configuration, you can set the X, Y and LB buttons to be light to heavy punches. This makes pressing all three of them at the same time much easier, as long as you're OK holding and manipulating the controller differently than you normally would – more like how you'd bang down on arcade buttons with multiple fingers.
Many people are going to compare the price to the fact that the controller is wired and immediately lose interest. But some players prefer using a wired controller because they don't have to worry about batteries, interference or input lag, which won't really be an issue unless you take your fighters very, very seriously. If you're worried about the controller reaching your couch, you should know that the cord is pretty lengthy, clocking in at 10 feet. If that's not enough, it's a breakaway cable, which means you can get an extension if you need to stretch it a few more feet.
In conclusion, because the MKX Fight Pad is unnecessary for the game it's designed for, obviously it's not easy to recommend. Furthermore, we're not even really convinced that it's worth the same price as a regular wireless Xbox One controller, anyway. It's not the most comfortable controller to hold due to its asymmetrical grips and super light weight, but you do get accustomed to it with use – we did. But with that said, if you're massively into Killer Instinct or feel you have enough fighting games for your Xbox 360 that might agree with the button layout of this arcade-inspired controller, the Fight Pad may be an extra you may want to consider.