We’re in a golden era for fighting games right now. Following the critical success of the sublime Street Fighter 6, publisher Capcom recently revealed there’ll be a prize pool of over $2 million up for grabs in the latest iteration of its Capcom Pro Tour. And with the likes of Tekken 8 and Mortal Kombat 1 also on the horizon, there’s never been a better time to take your game to the next level and pod out on a premium arcade stick.
Whether you’re a prospective pro player or a casual looking for a more authentic coin-op experience, the Nacon Daija is a tidy piece of kit. Designed and developed in collaboration with Parisian pro Kayane, this hefty slab of gaming goodness looks and feels the part, including authentic Sanwa parts out of the box while still offering ample scope to customise if you like. You can even swap out the artwork on the top, providing true flexibility for you to personalise the peripheral.
But at €279.90 (~£240/$310) this is very much a luxury purchase, and perhaps should only be considered by those who plan to spend the bulk of their gaming time in Battle Hub lobbies or inflicting Brutalities on buddies. If you’ve got the cash burning a hole in your pocket then we’d highly recommend indulging in this weighty extravagance – but you’ll probably already know at this point of the review whether the Daija is a product for you.
What Does the Nacon Daija Look and Feel Like?
The Nacon Daija is officially compatible with the PS5, PS4, and PC – and having tested it across all three systems, we’ve had a largely flawless experience. One minor irritation we had during setup is that the arcade stick’s USB connection is located on the rear of the unit inside a small alcove, which means the standard DualSense charging cable included with the PS5 won’t fit. Fortunately, it does come with its own three metre cable, which resolves the issue.
It should be noted that this is a big and heavy arcade stick; at almost four kilograms, the Daija is a bit of a beast, and it’s something to be aware of if you’re planning to use it on your lap. While we personally haven’t had any issues placing the unit on our legs, some may find the sheer weight of the accessory uncomfortable. On a desk or table, a non-slip pad on the base of the device prevents slippage, and its overall heft ensures it stays put – even in situations of intense duress.
It feels fantastic under the fingertips, though. The ball top stick – which can be replaced to a bat top if you prefer – has a satisfying click to it, allowing you to physically feel all eight directions. Meanwhile, the eight main face buttons are large and responsive, reacting to the lightest of touch. The right side of the unit includes a series of switch toggles, allowing you to assign platform and fine-tune the controls, while you’ll also find spilled over inputs like L3, R3, and the touchpad.
Two clasps on either side of the unit allow you to pop it open, allowing for potentially unlimited customisation if you have the knowhow. This is where the Nacon Daija really comes into its own: it’s configured beautifully out of the box, and so aside from its high price point, it’s perfect for beginners or casual payers – but it also has impressive flexibility for more experienced pros, and therefore straddles both markets quite confidently.
A rubber wrist pad beneath the buttons and stick add an extra layer of comfort, although we did find the overall width of the unit a little over-the-top, and we do think it could benefit from a slightly smaller footprint overall. Nevertheless, there’s a traditional headphone jack located to the front of the device, so if you’re the type of person who prefers to plug your earbuds into your DualSense then that remains an option here.
How Does the Nacon Daija Perform During Gameplay?
In terms of button layout, the Nacon Daija is clearly targeted at fighting games, whether it’s four-button titles like Dragon Ball FighterZ or six-button efforts such as Street Fighter 6. We tested out a ton of games during our time with the Nacon Daija, spanning 3D fighters like Tekken 7, retro releases like the Capcom Fighting Collection, and more contemporary outings like Guilty Gear Strive – all of which performed well, with minimal button remapping required, outside of personal preference.
While those who are new to arcade sticks will find a steep learning curve at first, the deliberate nature of the inputs makes for a more accurate overall experience – there’s a reason the best players in the world are all using sticks as opposed to traditional game pads. On a more casual level, it also just feels more fun: there’s something intangibly entertaining about having a traditional arcade interface at your fingertips that makes the Daija a delight to use.
And on that note, we tested the accessory across a number of arcade-style beat-‘em-up games, such as TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, Streets of Rage 4, and the Capcom Beat-‘Em-Up Bundle – and we found it excelled across all these titles, too. While we obviously wouldn’t recommend splashing out on this expensive peripheral purely for a more authentic Final Fight experience, it’s great that it has the versatility to appeal outside of core fighting games.
If we had any criticism at all, it’s that the unit is almost too responsive: we did encounter a couple of occasions where barely brushing against a button with the lightest of touches caused the game to erroneously confirm a mode or character we weren’t planning to select. Obviously, the responsiveness of this device is one of its biggest selling points – Nacon is touting input lag of just 6ms on PS5, by the way – but it will react to feather touches at times.
Should You Buy the Nacon Daija?
The Nacon Daija impressively straddles the line between beginner kit and pro peripheral, but its high price tag means its appeal will largely be restricted to the latter category. This hefty piece of hardware doesn’t feel overpriced, however: it looks and feels the part, with high quality components and plenty of scope for customisation. With support for the PS5, PS4, and PC it also feels quite versatile, although multiformat gamers may perhaps lament the lack of Xbox and Nintendo compatibility, too.
Nevertheless, with such a strong slate of fighting game software on the horizon, this accessory feels well equipped to serve a variety of titles well, whether you’re planning to rise through the ranks in Street Fighter 6 or make a push at the Mortal Kombat 1 ladders. It also performs exceptionally across a variety of arcade-style titles, such as beat-‘em-ups and even some retro shoot-‘em-ups, like the various titles included in the Capcom Arcade Stadium compilations.
If you can afford it, and you’re not concerned about the overall weight and size of the unit, then the Nacon Daija comes highly recommended. But it is a luxury designed with a very specific market in mind: if you’re not looking to become a pro player or don’t long for that nostalgic arcade feel, then a traditional DualSense will serve your ambitions adequately in the majority of games. That makes this product a bit niche – but it’s exceptionally executed all the same.
Thank you to Nacon for sending us a sample unit of the Daija arcade stick to put through its paces. Are you tempted by this pro-tier peripheral? Quarter-circle your way into the comments section below.