Shining the C.O.E. Spotlight on Canadian Joysticks

The C.O.E. Spotlight is where we get to highlight developers, publishers, and specialty retailers in the videogame industry.  Today we’re here with Jackson Dang from Canadian Joysticks, who specialize in delivering the very best arcade sticks to fighters all throughout Canada.  As anyone knows, purchasing an arcade stick in Canada can become very expensive given the high price to ship the weighty sticks, but thanks to this specialty retailer, fighting fans all across Canada now have a go-to shop for all their arcade stick parts, custom plates and much more.  So please welcome Mr. Jackson Dang!

I also had the opportunity to ask Jackson a few other questions that weren’t covered in the live interview.

Jarrod Nichol: Who started Canadian Joysticks and what was the inspiration behind the shop?

Jackson Dang: Canadian Joysticks was started by Jackson Dang, Peter Leung, and Ricky Leung. We wanted a way to let Canadians have an accessible means to get arcade parts without the tricky business of importing across the world.

Where is Canadian Joysticks based out of, and is it online only or is there an actual brick and mortar store?

Canadian Joysticks is based in Vancouver, British Columbia and is currently an online-only retailer. Hopefully we can get a physical location so we can have a place to hold events and do other neat things.

What is Canadian Joysticks’ mission statement?

To bring the spirit of the arcades to the homes in Canada.

What was the first tournament Canadian Joysticks took part in?

The first tournament Canadian Joysticks officially took part in was Vancouver Street Battle V.2 run by CCG|Air.  I was a volunteer in their first V.1 tournament as a bracket runner. After that, we were official sponsors bringing parts and joystick repair services. Then we went into live streaming for the community.

Today, how many fighting tournaments do you take part in, in a year? Are these Canada-only, US-only, etc.

A lot! We help out as many scenes as we can but we want to focus on Canadian players. Right now, we’re supporting Edmonton Gamers with Absolute Victory GGPO Tournament (April 28, http://www.edmontongamers.com/absolutevictory.htm) and MatSF’s MAT IX (June 2nd-3rd, http://www.mat.mtlsf.com/). And we help bring out the scene here in Vancouver with the weekly streams on Wednesday (http://www.twitch.tv/canadianjoysticks), as well as the events held by CrossXOver (http://www.facebook.com/CrossXover), Vancouver Street Battle (http://www.facebook.com/vancouverstreetbattle), and many others.

What is the single biggest fighting tournament out there?

The grand tournament in the fighting game scene is Evolution (http://evo.shoryuken.com/), which brings thousands of fighters from all over the world to compete.

Does Canada have any large-scale tournaments to call its own?

In terms of history, Toronto’s Fighting Game Championship Series and Montreal Annual Tournament Series have been running for 13 and 9 years respectively. Edmonton and Calgary have a strong presence with Edmonton Gamers and Canada Cup Gaming tournaments. The Vancouver tournament scene has a long, spackled arcade history, which almost disappeared before being reborn recently with the new generation in CrossXOver and Vancouver Street Battle.

What are the most popular fighting games that show up at tournaments?

Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition v.2012 is the popular staple in tournaments followed closely by Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Other popular fighting games like The King of Fighters 13, Mortal Kombat, and all, are much more specialized to each tournament community. I, personally, would love to see every game get played.

What is the best stick out there and why?

The best stick is the one you’re most comfortable with! If you’re starting from nothing, then I can easily recommend the Qanba Q4 3-in-1 Real Arcade Fightstick (http://www.canadianjoysticks.com/categories/Joysticks/Qanba/). It uses authentic Sanwa Denshi Japanese arcade parts and works on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC; so you wouldn’t need to worry about which consoles a tournament is using. It’s also quite easy to change out parts and personalize. (Example photo of CCG|Air with a Custom Yellow Qanba Q4 3-in-1 RAF)

Here's an example of a custom stick

What are the differences between all the different sticks? Is it just branding or are there big differences besides just aesthetics?

This is a big discussion I can get into but I’ll see if I can keep things simple. On a branding level, each company has a particular size, weight, joystick/button layout, and parts list. On a parts level, there are regional favorites such as Japanese types, American types, and Korean types. And each region have popular manufactures that have their own specific touch or feel to them, from soft hair-trigger switches to tough durability. So if you have a preference for different parts in arcade sticks, joystick modding makes your weapon of choice very personal.

What makes an arcade stick so much better than a standard game pad?

Another discussion I can talk at length. If you’re playing an arcade game, then an arcade stick is the way experience the old school feeling. For the competitive fighting game scene, there are pros and cons between each tool. Fighting game history started in the arcades so many chose to use arcade sticks. But with a new generation of players who may not have experienced an arcade, then it really is a personal preference. I generally use an arcade stick for most fighting games, but I like to use a game pad for Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo and the Tekken series.

For those just looking to get into fighting games, what is a good stick you recommend to start with and why?

Getting a good stick is big investment, so there are a lot of things to consider. If you’re absolutely set on getting an arcade stick for this generation of fighting games, the Qanba Q4 3-in-1 Real Arcade Fightstick is the one to get since it works Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.

What game would you recommend newbies start with and why?

Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition v.2012 is the best place to start for this generation. It is the most popular and in almost every tournament. The character roster is big and each one is unique so there is bound to be a style to match each player. The gameplay isn’t too fast and it’s easy to play on a basic level. And there are ton of resources online from frame data to match footage to learn the more advance and subtle tactics.

What is your favorite fighting game of all time?

I have a soft spot for the more obscure fighting games. Though if I had to choose, it would be The Last Blade 2 by SNK on the Neo-Geo because it has Wong Fei Hung (Lee Rekka) based on Jet Li’s performance from Once Upon A Time In China.

Where can interested readers follow you on Facebook, Twitter and/or YouTube?

We’re on facebook.com/CanadianJoysticks. Twitter @CanadianJSticks. Our YouTube footage has HD replays of the Vancouver Fighting Game Scene at youtube.com/CanadianJoysticks. And we live stream on twitch.tv/CanadianJoysticks.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention to readers interested in checking you out?

Yes, I am personally working a side project called the Magus Works Productions Fundraising Project (http://magusworks.chipin.com/) to help support the Vancouver community. The contributions help get better live streaming equipment for community events, more gaming setups for players, and hopefully be able to sponsor players to go to tournaments around the world.

We want to give a huge thanks to Jackson and all the guys and gals at Canadian Joysticks for taking part in the C.O.E. Spotlight, and I hope you all enjoyed this new C.O.E. series.  We have a lot more interviews lined up for you so stay put!

7 thoughts on “Shining the C.O.E. Spotlight on Canadian Joysticks”

  1. An excellent interview/feature!! This was really cool, especially because I really like the fighting game genre and think fight sticks are just neat peripherals to own. I’d love to get some more. I do agree with his assertion about which fighting game to start with–Super Street Fighter IV AE is just so tightly balanced and fun to play that it’s a joy to jump in and play. I’m debating on buying it again for PlayStation 3 even though I already have it for 360. I was really surprised by his favorite fighter though: I’ve only ever heard of Last Blade 2, but I’ve always wanted to play it. Wasn’t it released on Dreamcast as well?

    Once again, great interview!

  2. It sure was Tim, but the Neo-Geo version is where it’s at. I was surprised too when I heard him say that because I thought I was the only person alive to have played that series lol. Really glad you enjoyed the feature and I’m working on more. I’ve got a standard interview schedule with Sony on Friday, but that’s not a COE Spotlight feature, just a pre-E3 hype interview.

  3. This was awesome :) I had no idea they existed, I am going to buy my next joystick from there :)

    1. Well then this was worth it. The whole idea of this feature was to introduce people to retailers, publishers and developers they may not have heard of before. Very glad you guys enjoyed this and I hope the next entry doesn’t take too long to put together

  4. This is the first non-E3 video interview we’ve done? That strikes me as odd, but you obviously would know better than I. Overall very well-done for the first Spotlight. An interesting exchange, though I’m not sure how many people are going to want to stick around for 30 minutes. One suggestion I’d like to make is to increase the conversational tone. Saying, “That’s interesting.” in response to the interviewee every time will get old fast the more you do these things :) Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions, or offer your own comments and insights. I think just focusing on that for the time being would make big improvements the more you meet up with our participants.

    Good job :)

  5. Great interview, Jarrod. I enjoyed it and it got me excited about fighting games again so maybe I will get back into Street Fighter IV when I return to Japan. :)

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