Since purchasing a Sega Saturn I have found it hard to go back to fighting sticks when playing games such as Street Fighter Zero 3. While the stick helps with moves that require 360 rotations such as Zangief’s Final Atomic Buster, for some reason I just can’t seem to get out inputs which require speed like Gouki’s infamous, Shun Goku Satsu. To accommodate my lack of fighting stick skills, I decided to pick up a couple of the ASCII fighting pads; controllers which are based on the six buttoned, fighting-game friendly, Sega Saturn controllers.


The ASCII Fighting Pad FT was released back in 2000 to coincide with the release of the Dreamcast exclusive, Capcom Vs. SNK Millennium Fight 2000. The standard version comes in grey with a Dreamcast orange box which features an awesome image of Ryu and Vega battling it out over Osaka castle; the same artwork used for Street Fighter Zero 3 Saikyo Dojo: For Matching Service.

Fans could also show their loyalty by purchasing company specific versions of the controller. The SNK version comes in the company's traditional blue and white colours, complete with an SNK box and set of 14 illustrations cards featuring the move list of all the SNK characters from Capcom Vs SNK. Similarly, fans of the Street Fighter and Vampire series could pick up, a black and yellow 'Capcom version,' which also came in a special edition box , and with move list cards for the the Capcom side(both of which I am currently lacking).


Special edition Skeleton Black controllers, similar to the,"This is Cool" edition Sega Saturn versions, were also given away in a prize draw to those who purchased both the Capcom and SNK editions of the controller. The controller is fittingly labeled the, "double edition" and as you'd guess, boxed versions like this are rare as hens teeth.


As far as physical build, the base and face of the FT is constructed from similar high quality plastic and feels exactly like the material used in the regular Dreamcast controller. Though the D-pad on the controller may feel at first to be a little flimsy, this is typical of most good fighting pads with inputs transmitted exceptionally. Making dragon punches was very easy to do and, of course, I was finally able to unleash my murderous intent by spamming Shun Goku Satsu moves whenever possible.

There are a couple of differences to the Saturn controller which the FT is based on. Unlike the Saturn controller, the XYZ buttons on the ASCII controller are much larger, and it is also missing the L & R buttons which many people configured to make moves which require triple simultaneous inputs such as Dhalsim's Yoga Teleport, but it's not a major problem and doesn’t take much time to get used to if you usually use a stick.


One little complaint I have with the design of the pad is that, to include an internal rumbling feature (which is hardly necessary for 2D fighters), it is rather on the chunky size and inserting a VMU on the top of the controller also makes it a rather heavy and somewhat cumbersome to hold. Not a major problem, and it's nothing to say holding a regular Xbox controller or a even a Dreamcast one with all the peripherals plugged in but still, in comparison to the slender Sega Saturn controller it loses out somewhat ergonomically.

Another thing to note is that these controllers are only playable with games which are ‘arcade stick compatible' as the FT lacks the analogue stick which a lot of Dreamcast games require. Not a major problem I guess as most gamers would be using this solely for the fighting games it was intended for, and if you are looking for a controller to use solely for beat-em ups and shooters, then the Ascii Fighting Pad FT about the best there is.