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updated 10/19/2012 4:20:01 PM ET 2012-10-19T20:20:01

To really fight like a champ, you need more than your console's stock controller. For your money, there's no better choice than the $40 MadCatz FightPad S.D. — a durable controller that recreates the arcade fighting experience in the comfort of your own home. (MadCatz makes models for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.)

Why We Like It

The FightPad S.D. is made with comfort in mind. It's a small but well-built controller that's easy to grasp. With its oval-shaped handles around the bottom and easy-to-access shoulder and face buttons, you don't have to move your hands around too much. It also has a useful directional pad on the left side, so you can roll your thumb with ease for general player movement and special attacks. We were able to easily shift from down-down to forward-forward movements, the traditional setup for the fireball motion.

MadCatz still threw in advanced options that will cater to fans of the fighting  genre. A 3-way switch installed on the back side enables you to change how the controller functions, depending on the game you're playing. (For general players, leaving it in the normal center position works just fine.) A button on the front turns on "turbo" functionality: Holding a button down allows an action to perform multiple times, without requiring you to keep "mashing" it.

We tested the FightPad S.D. with a few friends and multiple fighting games, including "Street Fighter x Tekken" (for which the controller was originally designed), "Mortal Kombat" and " Dead Or Alive 5." The buttons and directional pad responded without fail, and everyone found the pad to be comfortable. What's more, the multiple designs available for it, inspired by "Street Fighter x Tekken," boast some beautiful art.

And at $40, the FightPad S.D. is a much more affordable – and sizable – alternative to the more professional MadCatz's FightStick Vs. (which we reviewed previously). It's also much easier to store in a cabinet or squeeze in next to your game system.

Keep In Mind

Though the FightPad is a great performance piece, it is tethered to the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 by a USB cable that keeps you close to the system, unlike wireless controllers. Previous FightPad models for the PS3 were wireless, but due to performance issues (mainly with a very slight delay between button press and reaction on-screen), MadCatz opted for a wired approach with this newest version. It's not the end of the world, though, as the 9.8-foot long cable gives you a moderate amount of freedom.

Bottom Line

MadCatz FightPad S.D. is one of the better fighting game controllers you can get right now. It's comfortable, affordable and stylish, all in one shot.

Key Specs

  • $40
  • Available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
  • 9.8-foot USB cable
  • 6.1 in. (w) x 6.4 in. (d) x 3.2 in. (h)
  • Weight: 11.2 ounces

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