Hardware Review: PowerA Fusion Wireless Arcade Stick

A quality fight stick that will satisfy the majority of players but might leave hardcore fans cold due to a lack of modification options.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 02/06/2021 02:59 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Luxurious build quality; Japanese-style face buttons have a satisfying give; joystick is sturdy and accurate; wireless and wired connectivity, with optional PC support
Poison Mushroom for...
Can’t be modified; no L3, R3, or turbo buttons

Arcade sticks, or fight sticks as they’re more commonly referred to as, tend to have a very particular crowd that flocks to them. A fight stick is a recreation of the control panel on an arcade cabinet; the array of buttons and joysticks that players use to engage with a game. For many, it’s an impossibility to bring an actual arcade machine into the home, so having a fight stick is the optimal way for players to experience a very close approximation of the real thing.

There’s a reason these oversized controllers are regularly called fight sticks: fighting game fans adore them. Games like Street Fighter are quite demanding with the myriad of complex inputs required to pull off special attacks, so having a fight stick allows players to more easily execute moves like Hadoukens and Spinning Bird Kicks. It’s all about feel, basically—fight sticks allow players to really recreate the feel of an arcade machine, which in turn provides for a more authentic level of interaction.

The PowerA Fusion Wireless Arcade Stick isn’t the first fight stick to come to Nintendo Switch, but what it represents is a delightful middle ground for both hardcore arcade and fighting game fans, as well as those who might be trying out one of these pads for the first time. There are a number of positives that make the Fusion worthy of a purchase, but a handful of caveats that might prove to be deal-breakers for those with specific fight stick needs.

Immediately after taking the Fusion out of its box, I noticed what a premium build it has. The pad oozes quality. Its sleek, shiny surface is smooth to the touch; the eight face buttons emit a satisfying and responsive click; the joystick is sturdy and precise; its weight keeps the  metal base in position while not being so heavy as to be cumbersome. What’s more, PowerA has made sure that the Fusion is easy to use for Switch owners by including the console’s requisite Home and Share buttons. This makes posting game clips and screen grabs, as well as jumping in and out of games, a total breeze.

The convenience doesn’t end there, however. Players also have the choice to toggle the joystick to act as either the D-pad, left, or right analogue stick. This is nice depending on what sort of game is being played, something that helps to make the Fusion versatile. Connecting to a Switch is easy enough, with players able to rapidly pair the controller using Bluetooth. In order to ensure a lag-free experience for more serious and competitive play, there’s also the option to plug in directly to a Switch dock via the 10-foot long USB-C cable included with the Fusion (it even stores in a compartment in the base of the unit).

In wireless mode, players can expect roughly 30 hours of battery life off of a pair of AA batteries. In wired mode there is no limit to worry about, and with ten feet of cord to take advantage of, well, players really can look forward to hours of gameplay no matter how they jack in. What’s more, those who would prefer to extend the use of their Fusion beyond Switch can pair it up with a PC using the USB-C cable. So, anyone with a collection of fighting and arcade games on their computers can take advantage of this fight stick on both platforms.

If there are any drawbacks, though, one can point to the lack of L3 and R3 button functionality, as well as turbo functionality. The Fusion doesn’t support either. In fairness, the absence of L3 and R3 button support isn’t much of a loss given that the overwhelming majority of fighting and arcade games don’t use either, but there are other instances when their omission might prove problematic to players. No turbo especially seems odd given its popularity with the type of games that the Fusion is most likely to be used for.

Where the core gaming crowd is arguably going to take pause with the Fusion is its inability to be customized. Many fight sticks contain parts manufactured by Sanwa. The Fusion does not (which a PowerA rep said owes to a limitation on Nintendo’s part), nor are the pieces able to be removed and modified. For the average consumer, and even some of those who count themselves as arcade and fighting game fans, this isn’t a big deal. The Japanese-style rounded face buttons and snappy joystick are of premium quality and will absolutely get the job done (and well) every time. For those who want a fight stick that allows for some aggressive personalization, the Fusion is possibly not going to be the best option.

Still, for newbies to the world of fight sticks these omitted features aren’t likely to be missed. Taken as-is, especially for someone like me who tends to play virtually every game with a Pro Controller, I found the build and features of the Fusion to be quite a joy. Speaking of personalization, one nifty feature of the Fusion is that players can download a special template to produce their own unique faceplate designs for the controller. One additional faceplate is already included, but anyone who wants to take a swipe at creating their own custom look, the template will provide a lot of fun.

PowerA has been producing countless controllers and peripherals for Switch ever since the console’s launch, and all these years later continues to churn out quality products. For the everyday gamer, the Fusion is a solid value proposition at $129.99 that provides arcade-quality control with a luxurious feel, with both wired and wireless play options. For core players, the Fusion’s lack of certain buttons and features might mean looking elsewhere. Taken as it is, but for that select crowd, anyone who wants to tackle classics like Metal Slug or try to get an edge in Street Fighter III with an arcade-accurate controller, the Fusion is a great choice.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In 0 points Log in or register to grow your Ninja Score while interacting with our site.
Nintendojo's RSS Feeds

All Updates Podcast
News Comments
Like and follow usFacebookTwitter Friend Code Exchange + Game with Us Join the Team!