Qanba Dragon Arcade Stick Review – Mash Loudly and Carry a Big Stick
Qanba Dragon Fight Stick for PS3/PS4/PC
If you’re looking to get into fighting games on the PlayStation 4 and want to test your mettle on an arcade-style joystick, there were usually just three names to choose from: MadCatz, HORI, and the recently released Razer Panthera. Just as Street Fighter V is preparing its second season, a new challenger has entered the ring and brought a few friends with them. Chinese manufacturer Qanba has unveiled its latest line of arcade sticks for the PlayStation 3 and 4 and gave us the opportunity to try out their premium model: The $299 Qanba Dragon.
There’s an undeniable sturdiness to the Qanba Dragon that’s present the moment I first got my hands on this fine piece of equipment. Coming in at just under twelve pounds, this fightstick might help a tournament player shed a few pounds just from carrying their stick into battles across the world. The Dragon’s commanding presence is larger than any of the other sticks in my collection and wouldn’t fit in any of the bags I’ve used for running tournaments in the past, although Qanba does offer a solution with their Guardian travel pack. If you’re looking to be a world warrior, be forewarned that the Dragon won’t be satisfied with being in your carry-on luggage.
As a full-sized joystick, the Qanba Dragon joins the ranks of Hori’s Vewlix line of sticks as a beast that demands your entire lap for tribute. Gone is the felt that used to adorn Qanba’s earlier sticks as an anti-slipping solution; in its place is high-quality rubber that helps to keep the stick in one place. No matter how vigorously I churned out 720s on the Sanwa lever, the combination of heft and padding kept the stick from sliding all over the place. For the precision that frame-perfect combos require, the Dragon is outfitted with a full line of Sanwa OBSF-30 pushbuttons and the fan favorite JLF stick (with a square gate restrictor and chrome balltop).
Most modern arcade sticks offer some sort of cord drawer to stash the USB cable when not in use. Perhaps the worst part about these storage drawers is how weak the hinges can be and are prone to breaking off with repeated use (I personally have seen a number of these happen to Madcatz sticks that were the staple of tournaments I attended). Qanba took a unique approach to this by offering two sturdy posts to wrap the cord around when traveling, alleviating the possibility of having anything break off mid-celebration. While I certainly wouldn’t advocate it, the Qanba Dragon feels sturdy enough to handle whatever salty abuse you decide to throw at it, even if it’s a post match spike after being locked into another infinite combo in MvC3.
If I had to choose one word to describe the Qanba Dragon’s build, it would have to be ‘deliberate’. To prevent accidental button presses during a qualifying match, the folks at Qanba have moved the non-essential buttons onto a small control deck at the top of the stick with a full-sized PS4 touchpad adoring just below. Compared to the imposing size of the Qanba Dragon, the actual command deck feels minuscule by comparison. The extra buttons that would only need to be accessed in certain instances, L3/R3, Share, Options, et cetera, are all centered around a PS button joined by a toggle for the LED lighting and Turbo functionality. Offering a turbo function is still a rarity for modern arcade joysticks and is always a welcome addition for those that care to play other arcade titles on their equipment.
The unique command controls don’t have the same finesse as the Sanwa buttons and pressing in these buttons required a bit of force to activate properly. The Share button was especially noticeable, as a double-press of the button to activate gameplay recording would frequently only register as a single press. I would have also liked to see the Options button be assigned to a proper button separate from the command console, but I do have to recognize Qanba for being ambitious enough to try out something bold and new for their recent line of arcade sticks.
Quick modifications are becoming more and more commonplace on the tournament scene when players have to swap out buttons at a moment’s notice due to overuse or dropping inputs. The Qanba Dragon was designed with this focus in mind and the inner workings of this hefty stick are accessible whenever the need arises. As soon as you pop open the top cover, a LED light turns on and gives the player enough illumination to admire the dragon skin adorning the inside before performing any crucial maintenance. Displayed behind a stylish plastic frame, all of the Sanwa switches and the joystick are displayed proudly while also being accessible for easy swaps thanks to the handy display guide and quick disconnects adorning every button. This gives the Qanba Dragon a much cleaner presentation inside without having a nest of wires to navigate around when you discover one of your buttons might be wearing out.
A small compartment inside the stick is perfectly sized for storing a set of extra Sanba OBSF-30’s or even a protein bar if you find yourself doing 8:00 AM pools at EVO and haven’t had the chance to grab a proper breakfast. It might not be large enough to fit a spare copy of Marvel, but there’s enough room to get creative with spare parts (or a spare 3.5mm headset, as this stick is one of the few to include a headphone jack for PS4).
From the full set of Sanwa switches to the accessibility that Qanba designed to perform quick repairs, the Qanba Dragon is a beast that’s meant to be a tournament tool for years to come. While its commanding presence might be too much to travel as a world warrior, I know it’ll always have a place for local matches or the occasional stream presence. This might certainly be the finest arcade stick I’ve gotten my hands on and well deserving of a permanent place on my shelf to fill the hole left behind by the Sanrio x Street Fighter stick I recently donated to a new home.
From the full set of Sanwa switches to the accessibility that Qanba designed to perform quick repairs, the Qanba Dragon is a beast that’s meant to be a tournament tool for years to come.
- Sturdy enough to command respect
- Tournament-standard Sanwa components
- Turbo function, unlike the MadCatz TE2+
- LED lighting and quick disconnects make repairs quick and easy
- Command console difficult to use when needed
- Non-detachable USB cable
- Too large for carry-on luggage