QanBa Q4RAF Arcade Fighting Stick – Hardware Review

Fighting games are only genre where the use of a proprietary controller still remains widely popular. Light guns have been replaced with generic motion controllers, and even the mighty steering wheel has dropped off in popularity this generation. The only logical explanation is that an arcade stick is simply the best way to play a fighting game.

While this is not a review of a Mad Catz product I can’t very well talk about a modern day arcade stick controller without giving them some credit. Their introduction of the Fightstick range not only hailed a new era for the company but also brought the concept of owning such a thing to the masses. Sure, Hori had been producing some very nice sticks before then but Mad Catz were unarguably the champions of the concept.

This is a product from relatively unknown brand, QanBa. While the company have been making arcade sticks for some time they have been hard to come by, but with the Q4RAF they are becoming more common and easier to get without having to pay extortionate import costs. The Q4RAP retails at a little under £120, about on par with a Tournament Edition from Mad Catz, but it has a cracking trick up its sleeve from the start in that is is compatible with PS3 and 360 out of the box.

Dual modding kits have been around a long time but are expensive, tricky to fit, and almost always sacrifice some secondary functions such as the 360 headset port. No such issue here; just use a simple switch to choose a console before you plug it in. The stick reports to be PC compatible while in PS3 mode, but I found it worked fine with Windows 7 in both modes, although with slightly different behavior but this just gives you more options if you’re having issues with a shoddy emulator as I was.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Q4RAP is it’s quite stunning box. For an unofficial/unlicensed controller they have really gone to town on packing it up nicely. In the box you’ll find the stick, a cleaning cloth, a small headset, some replacement screw covers and a couple of button blanking plates in case you want to remove last (or any) two buttons. Once you’ve opened and unpacked everything you’ll have yourself a very smart looking arcade stick. I’ve used both the black and white/red units and it’ll come down to personal taste but let’s say the back unit is the smarter while the white/red combo is the sexy one.

The stick itself has a good weight to it and won’t be moving around while you’re playing. The felt coating across the base plate means that it won’t be slipping off your lap either, a very simple addition that works extremely well. The other fairly unique addition is the carrying handle fixed to the rear of the casing, it’s feel both safe and comfortable when being used while remaining out of the player view when in use. On the left side of the unit is a compartment for storing your wrapped up cable. There is plenty of room here but, as with the Mad Catz sticks, I’ve always avoided using these as tightly wrapping a cable is never good idea. I prefer to loosely wrap the cable around the unit and, in the case of the Q4RAP, tuck the cable under the handle to keep it from coming loose in transit.

Our demo Q4RAP unit after 30+ hours of play.
Our demo Q4RAP unit after 30+ hours of play.

Aside from my own playing time with the Q4RAP I tested it’s performance by taking two units along to the Hypespotting tournament in Glasgow and hooked them up to an advanced copy of Persona 4 Arena. The two-day tournament ran for about 10 hours each day and both sticks were in use constantly for all that time. Neither suffered any kind of visible or mechanical damage at all. The joystick and buttons used are all manufactured by Sanwa, the world recognised standard for arcade parts, so you can be sure this stick will last a very long time and take a good beating.

I cannot close up this review without mentioning stick-modding, a very popular practice in the fighting game community and a personal hobby of mine. Flashy graphics aside an easily modifiable stick is great for when one of your buttons does eventually wear out. Everything on the inside of the Q4RAP is connected with quick release spade connectors so you could realistically swap out all the buttons and the joystick with just a screwdriver. When I look at an arcade stick I want to know how easy it will be for me to customise. The answer here is ‘very easy’, although the process is somewhat different to modding a Mad Catz stick, so do your research first and buy a nice blank perspex top plate (about £10) to make the job look top-notch.

In summary I’ve really enjoyed using the Q4RAP. The dual compatibility is incredibly handy and the unit is comfortable to use and very well built. As a canvas for a modification project you couldn’t ask for better. If you’re looking for something a little different and a little special in an arcade stick then this is where you should be looking.

The Q4RAP can be purchaced in the UK from and, who provided our review unit.

My own Q4RAP customised with a Persona 4 theme.







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