Nacon’s upgraded Daija arcade stick ticks the boxes in every area you want: customization, comfort, build quality, and more. With the addition of individual users profiles, the Daija becomes even easier to use and a bit more useful. No longer do you have to fiddle around with different inputs for games; you just hit the button and switch.
- Brand: Nacon
- Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation
- Connectivity: USB-C to USB-A
- Headset Support: 3.5mm jack input
- Programmable: Profile options via software, interchangable wiring inside unit
- Extra Buttons: 8-Button configuration
- Simple to use, good out-of-box experience
- Extensive support on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC
- Good customization options, including cables and joystick
- Sturdy build, doesn’t move while gaming
- You can put your snacks in the case
- Somewhat pricey for casual gamers
- Plastic top scratches very easily
- Wrist-rest could be a little more supportive and comfortable
For many of us, arcade sticks are an enigma. Sure, you’ve used one at the arcade—the clue is in the name—funneling coins into an arcade cabinet to keep your run going.
But arcade sticks at home are a little more mysterious. That’s not because they don’t exist, but because they’re niche hardware with a limited scope for gaming. Don’t play fighting games or use MAME? You’re unlikely to own one.
Which is what makes the new Nacon Daija version such an interesting prospect to someone like me, who doesn’t have loads of experience with arcade sticks but absolutely loves the idea of them.
The Nacon Daija was already considered one of the best arcade sticks in the game, so what does the new and upgraded Daija bring to the table?
New Nacon Daija Arcade Stick Upgrades
As mentioned above, the Nacon Daija is already a popular and renowned arcade stick used by gamers and eSport professionals worldwide. You’ll often see the Daija on tabletops at professional Street Fighter, Soul Caliber, and Dead or Alive tournaments, in use by some of the best gamers.
But that doesn’t mean improvements cannot be made, and Nacon has continued its work with French eSport professional Kayane to make the Daija a better overall arcade stick.
The biggest upgrade for would-be users is that Nacon Daija is now available for Xbox. Previously, the Daija was only available to PlayStation and PC gamers, but the latest version brings Daija compatibility to Xbox. There are some differences between the Xbox and PlayStation versions of the Daija, but we’ll explore these more in a moment.
Nacon has also rolled out one of the most requested new features from the previous generation, which is the ability to lock the various options buttons around the Daija. On both the PlayStation and Xbox versions, the lock switch is found on the new control panel (featuring the PS Button or the Xbox Nexus Button) and turns off the control buttons found on the side of the Nacon Daija.
There’s also a new covering underneath the Daija Arcade Stick that will stop the unit from moving around during gameplay, plus the handy option to open the unit using the integrated switches.
Nacon has also updated the Daija Arcade Stick’s desktop app, allowing for better customization, button options, and unique profiles. However, unfortunately, the updated app isn’t available yet at the time of review, and the existing app doesn’t recognize the upgraded unit.
The Nacon Daija Is a Chunky, Customizable Unit
Now, upgrades aside, what is the Nacon Daija actually about?
Out of the box, you first note the Daija’s weight. The Arcade Stick weighs in at a solid 3.5kg (7.7lbs), and while that sounds heavy, you definitely wouldn’t want the unit to weigh less. It feels solid, well-built, and like you can get stuck into the buttons and joystick without worrying about damaging them.
You can rest assured that the joystick, buttons, and other Arcade Stick components are up to scratch. Manufactured by Sanwa, these arcade buttons are some of the best in the business. What’s also nice about the joystick is that a second joystick is nestled away inside the Daija. I’m not sure if the default joystick style will vary by region, but the Daija arrived with a Japanese-style joystick, with a Korean-style alternative to suit your preferences.
Also nestled away inside the Daija is the three-meter USB-A to USB-C cable. The length and quality of this cable are both good. Although I’m gaming at my desk, the three-meter cable should work well for those sitting further back from the TV and their consoles. The cable plugs straight into the USB-C port at the rear of the unit, and the connection is snug and doesn’t feel like it will wiggle loose as you tee up a Hadouken.
As with previous Daija units, you don’t have to stick to the original artwork. You’ll find countless Nacon Daija artwork alternatives online, though you may have to wait for artists to accommodate the new cut-out area required for the Xbox or PlayStation button. You’ll also find a template on the Nacon website that you can use for home creations or printouts. On that note, you’ll also find a handy hex-topped screwdriver tucked away inside the Daija, the tool you’ll need to unscrew the transparent acrylic sheet covering the artwork.
But it isn’t just the superficial elements that are customizable on the Daija. On the underside, the myriad colored cables are all interchangeable between buttons. If you have a specific arcade stick key configuration you want to use, switching up the cables does the job. It’s incredibly simple, and I’m impressed with the extra level of customization this gives you. In combination with the Daija desktop app, you’ll find the button combo you need.
Nacon Daija Layout and Differences
Somewhat as you’d expect, the joystick and Xbox (or PlayStation) buttons take precedence atop the Daija. I found the eight-button layout surprisingly reminiscent of an arcade cabinet from my youth. Not that I was any good, mind, but the stirring familiarity is nice and something I’m sure other Nacon Daija users experience.
For those wondering, the joystick and key configuration on the Xbox and PlayStation versions are the same, just marked with the specific controls for either console controller.
Other than that, and the difference in the visual style of the PlayStation and Xbox versions, there is little difference between the two units. The PS Button and Nexus buttons obviously have slightly different functionality, but the Nacon Daija will function the same.
On both versions, you’ll find buttons on the side of the unit. The layout of these buttons has changed from the previous Daija version, where there are now small groups instead of a row of buttons. The positioning and usage of these buttons are fine for me, but I’ve also not used the previous version to compare.
Nacon Daija Compatability and Ease of Setup
One of the most impressive features of the Daija (and the supporting games) is the instant, out-of-box support for the Arcade Stick. Of course, most fighting games, shmups, and platformers come with programmed settings for various arcade sticks, but it’s always welcome when plug-and-play works.
It works with a variety of games, too. For example, I fired up Street Fighter V, and the controls worked instantly. Similarly, taking Metal Slug 3 for a spin, the Nacon Daija is recognized as an input, and you can begin playing without mucking around with buttons or otherwise.
In short, you’ll find the Daija easy to use. As most games have been configured to support either the Nacon Daija specifically (the original Daija launched in 2018) or arcade sticks using either DirectInput or Xinput (on PC), heaps of games will have no issue recognizing the Daija and allow you to customize your inputs.
Who Is the Nacon Daija Arcade Stick For? Should You Buy the Nacon Daija?
Nacon has hit the sweet spot here. The Daija is an established arcade stick among pro-gamers, and it comes well-recommended on various fighting-game forums and otherwise. With the new features and revisions, the Nacon Daija goes from strength to strength, though it does come with a little extra cost.
The new Nacon Daija will set you back €280/$299 at launch. At the time of review, the Nacon Daija is unavailable in the US, but it is expected to launch before the end of 2022.
It’s a significant ramp-up in price from the previous generation and one that some users may find hard to stomach. However, there is little doubt that the Nacon Daija is a well-built piece of hardware and one that, if you’re into the specific genres and niches that arcade sticks appeal to and games require, it will undeniably be a great investment for years to come.
For the casual consumer, there is little use in denying that a near-three hundred-buck outlay is probably a little offputting, especially if you’re only a casual fighting game player, or other similar titles. Still, more than a few people have bought into the other great gaming controller foible—that’s a racing wheel if you weren’t sure—and lived to tell the tale, and even gone on to delve deeper into their newfound hobby.
In short, I’ve really enjoyed my time with the Nacon Daija. It’s great fun and absolutely takes fighting and arcade games to the next level, and if that sounds like your cup of tea, the Daija is one of the best options.