In order to address some recent confusion, Capcom has updated their rules for their Street Fighter Pro Tour to clarify which controllers are legal for tournament play for the rest of the scheduled events after the tournament organizers of Combo Breaker 2019 made the last-minute decision to ban custom HitBox-style controllers at the event.
The rules now specify that custom controllers have a maximum of eight attack commands and four directional commands (which can still be mapped in-game as usual) that cannot overlap, and tournament officials can check to see if a player’s controller can do “left” and “right” at the same time.
Last month professional fighting game legend Daigo Umehara, who has his own manga, surprised his fans by picking up and playing on a “GafroBox,” a custom-made, controversial controller that replaces the typical lever with directional pushbuttons put together by Japanese player Yusuke “Gafro” Hoshino.
With the unofficial and unlicensed GafroBox, simultaneous directional inputs are possible when they shouldn’t be, which means a character like Daigo Umehara’s main, Guile, can do things in the game that are unintended, to say the least. Umehara intended to use the GafroBox at Combo Breaker, but the organizers banned the device.
In the video below, YouTube channel FGC Translated shows Daigo Umehara executing Guile’s Critical Art “Sonic Hurricane,” a charge motion attack, in a way that is simply not possible using a traditional arcade stick.
The GafroBox is a riff on a design by the company Hit Box Arcade, who make and sell their HitBox device. What largely separates these two peripherals is the Hit Box has a “SOCD cleaner,” which is what makes the Hit Box tournament-legal, even after the rules update.
“SOCD” stands for “simultaneous opposite cardinal direction,” and it’s the part of the controller’s hardware that tells it to “clean” an input of left and right or up and down at the same time. Most SOCD cleaners turn up+down into up and left+right into nothing at all, which means cheesing movement and attacks on charge characters a lot less likely.
The decision to ban Daigo Umehara’s GafroBox at Combo Breaker got a lot of people in the fighting game community talking about Hit Box controllers, either their perceived unfairness in general or fear that Hit Box adopters will have to go back to more traditional hardware. Adding to that paranoia, last November a fighting game tournament made the ill-received decision to ban all unlicensed controllers from play.
Interestingly, many of the things that are unfair about the GafroBox and other SOCD-free devices is possible with the stock DualShock 4 controller that comes with the PlayStation 4 — the console all Capcom Pro Tour events are played on. Since Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition defaults to “forward” when right and left are pressed, the issue hasn’t caused any major upset.
“Lord Daigo’s” immense popularity and the controversy around custom controllers definitely brought a lot of attention to the Hit Box in the last few weeks.
LOL why does this almost have 100K views. DAIGO caused the hitbox craze pic.twitter.com/pQP8pZ8Eon
— Justin Wong (@JWonggg) June 21, 2019
These updated rules come in time to clarify what Capcom considers legal for tournament play before the start of Premier events CEO 2019 on Friday, June 29th and VSFighting 2019, starting July 20th. Super Premier event Evolution Championship Series, or Evo, will take place on August 2nd through 4th this year.