Yo Ho! Nightrider here!
On 11th November 2019, SNK released their newest addition to the SNK family: the Neo Geo Arcade Stick Pro. The retail price is $129.99.
After hearing about it and its features, I pre-ordered it as soon as the link went online on Amazon. Because of the news about the much-rumored Neo Geo 2 and Neo Geo 3 (the true next-generation consoles from SNK) I had to get this product because I believe there is a link between the Arcade Stick Pro and the previous Neo Geo Mini with the 2 and 3.
As I opened the box it felt that SNK was producing a quality product that tried to mimic the original Neo Geo AES joystick, but in the form of the original Neo Geo CD play pad.
First, I plugged the ASP into my Japanese Neo Geo Mini as instructed. The light indicators turned green and playing the games were flawless. There is no lag and the button response was good. There were almost no problems with the buttons (I will explain later below).
Second, I went from joystick mode to console mode. I connected everything per the instructions to a TV and there were no problems for the most part.
Now the important notes:
The joystick has the “clicky sound,” meaning the ASP has a joystick dedicated to precision movements in most of the SNK catalog. There is no analog stuff going on so, making the ASP superior to the Neo Geo Mini and its analog controllers/joystick.
The 20 games included are nothing but fighting games, some of which are the best in the genre. The ASP joystick was made for SNK fighting games for precision moves.
The ASP has multifunctionality. You can connect to either the Neo Geo Mini or the TV for play. Also, you can hook it up to certain game consoles or a PC to have fun with other types of games. The built-in USB cable helps in facilitating this process.
The build of the ASP shows that SNK made sure you’re getting a dedicated fighting game stick. As a bonus, you can download additional games to the ASP. If the rumors are true, you’ll get 20 more games!
By watching some YouTube videos on how you can mod the ASP, the joystick is actually a 4-gate stick. This means that the receptors inside the build are big and can sometimes make mistakes. I noticed this while playing KOF 2002 on the character select screen: I wanted to go left but either went up or nowhere. I have to get used to this in order to navigate. The preferred 8-gate should have been made for this joystick for its more fine precision, but I suppose SNK wanted the ASP to be accessible for everyone at a reasonable price.
The buttons. As I fought family members in console mode, sometimes the inputs for Terry Bogard or Haohmaru don’t come through. Most of the time though, the buttons do their job. I’ve seen through other YouTube videos that Sanhua buttons are the way to go and installing them isn’t much of a hassle to replace the default buttons with. But I am not going to risk bricking my ASP!
You get a power cable, rubber stoppers to stabilize the ASP during play, and a USB A-to-C adapter when you plug into the Mini. No power plug in sight. This is a minor issue however.
When you update or unlock more games, you’re dependent to the ASP website for news and download files. Also, there are empty blocks on the website suggesting more fun things to do with your ASP, but no news yet. As an added downer, you’re required to use a USB flash drive with no wifi in sight.
If you’re an SNK fan, then this stick is for you! Despite the cons listed above, the ASP is a good investment. Many applicable abilities, multiple functions, and a possible link to the future SNK consoles make the ASP stand out next to other plug-and-play joystick consoles in the market. There are other plug-and-play joystick consoles that are way superior to the ASP, so go for them if you’re just interested in having more than 1000 games and having fun. But having an actual SNK hardware that is a fraction of the Neo Geo AES is good enough for me; the legendary price of the AES still lingers to this day on eBay and Amazon for the crazy brave.