HORI Real Arcade Pro 4 Premium VLX Review

Many of us remember what it’s like to visit an arcade, filled with pinball machines and cabinets stocked with our favorite games, like Space Invaders, Donkey Kong and even Mortal Kombat when it was initially released.

The beauty of these machines wasn’t the graphics and other technical capabilities that we have available to us today, but the fact that we had something physical to play with that offered up a fresh challenge, and allowed us to really get into the action.

Of course, video game controllers and consoles that feature joy sticks and large, familiar buttons have been around as long as Atari’s first game system, however they still have a lot to offer both retro and modern gamers today.

This being said, performance, ease of use and durability are major qualities than can’t be ignored, because precise movements bring a level of skill and dynamics to gameplay, and of course, a difficult to use or easily breakable controller would only bring its value down further.

The HORI Real Arcade Pro 4 Premium VLX is designed to bring back the nostalgia, and also serve as a leading example of modern gaming hardware, by using the time tested design which has been perfected in Japan.

HORI Real Arcade Pro 4 Premium VLX

Compatible with PS3 and PS4 Gaming Consoles

Typically, you’d never expect that a simple joy stick and button controller would be compatible with modern game consoles, especially considering the advanced sensitivity of button pressing as well as the existence of both directional pads and multiple analog sticks.

This is where the HORI Real Arcade Pro 4 Premium VLX really shines, because while you can’t connect a microphone into it, and it’s meant primarily for arcade games, it performs amazingly well in virtually every other area.

HORI Real Arcade Pro 4 Premium VLX

For starters, you can switch between PS3 and PS4 compatibility by simply moving a switch located on the top panel, in either the 4 or 3 position (for PS4 and PS3, respectively).

In terms of button mapping, everything is taken into consideration so that you can complete even the most complex move combinations or maneuvers, with an intuitive button layout.

The L1 and R2 buttons are located in the top right row, with the L2 and R2 buttons located directly below in in the bottom right row, and the X, Circle, Square and Triangle buttons are located in a square pattern on the left. This is the same layout that you’d expect on any PlayStation controller.

The joystick functions as a directional pad to the left of the buttons, and there’s also an option button that functions as the START button for PS3, located to the right.

The only other limitations are that it only works with modern Playstation consoles (PS3 and PS4), doesn’t support additional hardware like headsets, light bars or motion sensors, and that the PS button does not power on or off your console, so you will have to do that manually.

HORI Real Arcade Pro 4 Premium VLX

Advanced Button Mapping Capabilities

Not every gamer is the same, and prefers their own button layout and due to the amount of buttons on a PlayStation controller when compared to an arcade machine, there are inevitably some missing features in the basic layout, in order to keep it simple. In overcoming this issue, HORI has included some advanced options to get the most out of this advanced arcade controller, and make it more customizable.

First, there are L3 and R3 buttons located just to the left of the switch that assigns the controller to either PS3 or PS4 compatibility, a Share or SELECT button to the left of that (depending on whether you’re using PS3 or PS4), and a large PS button located on the very left.

Underneath the Share/SELECT button on the top of the panel is also a joystick control toggle switch that gives you control over either the directional pad, left analog stick or right analog stick when using this controller’s integrated joystick.

You can also custom program the L1, L2 and START/Option buttons with up to one button of your choice each, as well as deactivate any buttons that you’re not using.

HORI Real Arcade Pro 4 Premium VLX

Openable Face Plate for Easy Maintenance

Keeping gaming controllers in good shape is not limited to arcade controllers like this one, however this HORI controller makes it simple and easy to accomplish this, when compared with even conventional PlayStation controllers. This is primarily due to the fact that you can open the panel face and clean it inside and out without having to take it apart and potentially damage it in doing so.

As you would a retro game cabinet, you open the panel and are given access to the internal parts – without having to deal with complex electronics like with old school cabinets – and can use the included HORI cleaning cloth to remove dust and smudging without scratching your hardware.

There’s also a cable storage box located on the back, behind the joy stick, making storage much more convenient, as you don’t have to deal with messy cords or potential tears.

HORI Real Arcade Pro 4 Premium VLX

Original High Quality HORI Joystick and Buttons

As you know, this controller’s overall durability relies heavily on the quality of its joystick and 9 main buttons, as well as all of its other component pieces.

HORI, a leader in the field of arcade and video game peripherals, clearly understands this with their proprietary HAYABUSA joystick that provides enormous performance quality, with a 15% cut of input load, giving you fast, responsive commands.

That being said, both durability and performance are benefited by the straight V cam structure that allows for a more sensitive response, while reducing the response rate when the joy stick is pushed further out, and provides a stronger, more harmonious cam and housing construction.

While HORI will void warranties on modified versions of their controller, removing and replacing electrical switches for maintenance or greater performance is achieved simply with a 5 pin harness. The switches are also connected via the wiring system that has a small PCB attached with the 5 pin harness integrated into it, rather than being permanently mounted onto a PCB.

The HORI original KURO buttons are given exceptional design and two piece construction as well, with a durable build and replacement packages that come with 8 buttons, each delivering 60% less wear and tear than their competitors.

As a whole, this controller is built so that parts are easy to replace, as the buttons can be popped into place and the joystick is easy to install as well.

If you have any experience modifying arcade controllers, you’ll have no problem installing the HAYABUSA joystick and KURO buttons into any standard arcade controller, proving the soundness of each individual part of the HORI Real Arcade Pro 4 Premium VLX.

HORI Real Arcade Pro 4 Premium VLX

Designed After Japanese VEWLIX Arcade Cabinet

In terms of appearance, this arcade controller is a beautifully designed peripheral with an elegant white, red and black design that’s contemporary, strong and attractive while offering a positively nostalgic experience. You’d think that a controller that’s easy to customize and maintain might not look as good as it does, with attention to detail in the joy stick, buttons and overlay of the top panel itself.

The VEWLIX logo is printed clearly on the top left of the panel with the HORI logo on the bottom right, however what’s just as impressive is Taito’s stamp of approval made clearly with the Taito logo on the top right.

The HORI Real Arcade Pro 4 Premium VLX is actually certified by both Taito and SCEA, who are tremendous leaders in the video game arcade hardware industry and have been around since 1999. Given that it’s based on a Japanese model and is a higher priced item in its product line, this is a solid indication that HORI is not only a reputable and professional company, but also that this particular controller is well worth its price tag.

HORI Real Arcade Pro 4 Premium VLX

When compared to similar arcade controllers that are compatible with modern PlayStation consoles, it’s slightly larger with a length of 22.4 inches, width of 10.2 inches and total height including joy stick of 5.5 inches. While it may be larger than you’d expect for a gaming controller, it’s designed to look and feel just like a modern arcade cabinet, and provide the kind of performance, durability and ease of use that you’d expect as well.

Final Thoughts

There are a few extra advanced features to really push the HORI Real Arcade Pro 4 Premium VLX over the top – it stays true to its market with full PS3 and PS4 compatibility with all of its functionality.

One of these features which haven’t been mentioned yet is the touch pad located on the back of the controller which allows you to navigate the new touchpad features being built into PS4 games.

Considering that arcade games don’t require chat or the use of multiple joy sticks, you’re given every advantage in gameplay and enjoyment with the high quality, exclusive joy stick and buttons.

Being able to buy and replace these component parts easily is only complemented by the fact that you’ll rarely or never have to during regular use, and that they’re designed to be affordable while providing optimum performance and customization.

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