Published on December 9th, 2023 | by Paul Stuart
Review: Nacon Daija Arcade Stick (PS5)
Summary: A premium fighting stick in every sense, the Daija is an absolute winner for PS5 fighting fans pro or otherwise.
Here at Impulse Gamer, we’re huge fans of hardware manufacturers who regularly and confidently offer us the opportunity to take a peek at their latest offerings. Of course, not every product is a winner, but there’s something to be said about standing by your products and trying to better reach the masses. Nacon is one of the true good guys, and it’s always fun to see what they have to offer.
With Tekken 8 around the corner, Street Fighter 6 releasing its third Season Pass fighter, and Mortal Kombat 1 ramping up its modes, it’s a great year to be a next generation fight fan. All three titles signal a renaissance in the 2-D fighting genre, with early returns on Tekken being strong. With this reality, the market for tournament quality fight sticks is arguably unprecedented, as is the possibility of reaching a whole new generation of fighting game fans to use them.
Insert Nacon. Being Christmas and to seize upon the fighting game popularity, we offered several hardware manufacturers the opportunity to spotlight their next gen fight sticks with a true unboxing and playthrough. Nacon again stepped up and in a big way with their Daija Arcade Stick. For those that didn’t? Coal for all of you in the stockings.
Worth noting is this not my first foray into fight sticks. Present stock? The 8BitDo Switch model is nicely built, but loathes being modded (the restrictor plate needed to literally be cut off to be replaced). Qanba’s Drone 2 for the PS5 is a solid entry level (at mid-level price, however) piece that needed a slightly cumbersome Sanwa swap of button, stick and restrictor plate to feel responsive. And both – unlike Nacon – can feature spotty customer service, with the supposedly mod-friendly Qanba sending customers to a 3rd party and very expensive site for any mod help. In all fairness, neither of these sticks are tournament grade, and the Daija clocks in at twice the price of the Drone 2, almost 3x that of the 8BitDo. If this review leaves one impression: you get what you pay for, and the Daija is worth every dollar and then some.
First impressions: the Daija is big and heavy. In contrast to the Drone 2, this stick is not traditionally portable (as you’ll want to properly pack and carry it). The extra weight is a good thing if you’re playing it on a flat surface. The terrific bottom grips and elbow rests second the notion, as does the very strong build quality of the stick. This one is meant to last, and not like the thinner plastic shells of others.
Buttons and stick are all – by default – Sanwa, which means little reason to modify unless a specific click or feel is needed. Unlike competitors who require taking the whole stick apart and/or didn’t send reviews (ahem), the Daija easily pops open to reveal all the parts and how/where to modify them (to include providing necessary tools and color coding). This quick look – for professional players – is a must at many tournaments to comply with inspection. Provided USB cable is also very long and highest quality, and easily stores inside the unit. Default restrictor plate is square, but – like everything else – easy access to swap out for an octagonal Sanwa one. Same can be said for the spring.
Related, Nacon is focused on all the little things with the Daija. A swappable knob is included as are said needed tools to remove everything included the faceplates. Speaking of faceplates, two other options are there (some graffiti art also plain white), as are extremely detailed specifications on the Nacon website how to create custom artwork to perfectly fit on the Daija. If you want to gussy this up, stickers galore to make it happen.
Most importantly – and on PS5 – the stick works like a dream. Plugging it into the system resulted in instant recognition and play for Street Fighter 6 also Injustice 2. Stick and button feel were amazing, well beyond those of the lesser sticks. The added weight didn’t bother me (being a tall guy), but it did pose a challenge for my little dude son. Thus, it can be used on a lap for those who don’t mind a little oomph. Otherwise, lighter entry level sticks like the Drone 2 or Hori may work better for pickier peeps.
Related, complex moves – thanks to very balanced weight of the stick, logical spring tension, and overall responsiveness – are wonderful. Lesser sticks do perform, but they certainly do not possess the feel that a more premium product like the Daija possesses. Comparing the Daija feel to a premium traditional DualSense Edge controller is laughable. It’s a completely different gameplay experience.
The only criticism I can offer for the Daija is more personal preference. Putting Select and R3, L3 buttons on the side of the stick is a bit awkward. Still, it makes a lot of sense from the context of not taking up valuable front face real estate, essential during professional tournaments where distraction can produce failure. Also, these buttons are not regularly used in fighting games, so there’s that. Another slight quibble is the Nacon software (for Mac) appears broken. I didn’t need it for my PS5 at all…but just providing full disclosure.
In similar disclosure, the Daija is stated compatible with PS4 and PCs, albeit I had no ability to test within these environments. A simple switch flip (like all mainstream fight sticks) would navigate between them. I do wonder how the PC emulation would take place, as there an XBOX Daija option and these typically (being Windows based, in some regard) are the more PC compatible hardware (as traditionally Bluetooth emulated).
The Nacon Daija is a world class arcade stick that blows away lesser options. Its amazing build quality, attention to detail, literal plug and play, and premium default hardware combine as a perfect companion to PS5 fight game fans professional or otherwise.
Nacon Daija Arcade Stick Technical Specifications
- The sticks and action buttons are made by SANWA, a leading brand among professional fighting game players and a guarantee of premium quality and durability.
- The buttons are fully configurable using the NACON Daija Arcade Stick software on PC and Mac. You can easily create game profiles with the intuitive and user-friendly software.
- Enable the button lock feature to prevent accidental presses and avoid interrupting intense fights.
- The textured palm rest provides sturdy and comfortable support so you can remain at the top of your game for as long as possible.
- Switch between two different stick heads to choose the best solution for each scenario.
- A 3.5mm jack is provided so you can connect to audio and chat features with your wired headset.
- Customize the look of your arcade stick with three faceplate options, or create you own using the template available on our website.
- All in one: everything you need is included with the arcade stick – a 3m detachable USB-A to USB-C cable, two stick heads, and two tools to quickly and easily customize your arcade stick.