I would NOT recommend buying anything other than an official HRAP 2 or HRAP 2 SA unless you’re prepared to do a lot of work to fit in better parts…
I honestly don’t know why anyone would want to buy a PS2 joystick now unless they still own a PS2 console and regularly use it. It’s harder and harder to find new-condition quality controllers for that system but spending money on a product that’s not meant to be upgraded is something you have to consider.
IF you’re a joystick collector that’s one thing BUT if you’re planning on using this as a mainline joystick and want to save money on upgrading it later on – well, I can’t think of a better way to throw away money.
Here’s something that I can say that most posters can’t –
I’ve actually owned a number of PS2 joysticks. 10 total… I’ve owned and modded the American T5 joystick as well as the Arcana Heart 2 joystick. (I have an HRAP 2 SA as well.) I know what the limitations are on these joysticks… they were good for the PS2 era and for people who didn’t want to do serious mod work and change out parts BUT Hori’s shortcuts in production on these joysticks make them a pain-and-a-half to repair and/or mod unless you’re prepared to cut and desolder parts with the right tools.
The HRAP 2/general line was a better joystick to buy because it had a universal mounting plate that made installation of alternate joysticks easy (mainly LS-32, LS-40, LS-56) AND removable Hori stock buttons that popped out like the Sanwa and Seimitsu buttons. The HRAP 2 SA was even better because it shipped with both the Sanwa JLF lever (present on most Hori ‘HRAP-lite’/licensed joysticks) AND Sanwa buttons. All official HRAP’s had universal mounting plates which you can’t say for the majority of HRAP 3’s and the second-production version of the HRAP 1 (HRAP 1b?). If you didn’t like the Sanwa parts on the HRAP 2/SA, fine – at least you didn’t have to mod the case or do a lot of electrical line work prepping and desoldering inferior quality buttons from a PCB!
The ‘unofficial’/licensed HRAP variants on the PS2 are a pain-and-a-half to mod… you’re buying yourself extra work to fit in arcade-spec parts or a non-JLF control lever.
The soldered-into-PCB buttons that the Arcana Heart 2 joystick and others like it (both Tekken 5 HRAP variants, the AH 1 and AH 2 joysticks, the Fate: Unlimited Codes joystick) use are garbage. They’re uncomfortable for many people to use and have to be desoldered to be replaced when the buttons’ microswitches fail – unless you don’t mind breaking plastic parts off and junking the whole PCB assembly.
Stock Hori buttons – prior to the Kuro buttons introduced on the Fighting Edge joystick – tended to be poorer quality than Sanwa and Seimitsu buttons. For me personally, every time I hit those buttons it felt like I was punching a brick. From other reports, there are quality concerns and instances of buttons breaking on people in the middle of gameplay… The stock Hori buttons, prior to the Kuro, are also incompatible with the Sanwa SW-68 and Seimitsu PS-14-D microswitches if I remember correctly so you won’t be able to ‘revive’ the Hori buttons when they do die.
You can’t fit Sanwa or Seimitsu buttons into the AH2 without grinding off the button tabs in the 30mm faceplate holes. The tabs are in the button holes to slide the Hori buttons in prior to assembly line workers soldering THOSE buttons into the PCB! You can’t grind those tabs off, period, unless you break off the original 30mm buttons (hard to do without risking the PCB) OR desolder the buttons from the PCB first.
I found the Arcana Heart 2 PCB to be more sensitive than the norm to heat during desoldering operations… I never lost a Tekken 5 PCB desoldering buttons but did lift and ruin tracing from one of the two AH2 PCB’s that I attempted to mod.
A universal mounting plate will NOT help with the issue of shaft clearance above the faceplate surface if you have a short shaft joystick! If you’re Seimitsu joystick fan, the problem with non-universal HRAP’s and licensed HRAP’s isn’t installing them – you CAN find a production mounting plate to fit most of the Seimitsu joysticks into these Hori ‘HRAP lites’… the issue is that you’ll have extremely short shaft clearance and for most people that isn’t a comfortable proposition.
Shaft clearance isn’t an issue with the Sanwa JLF, Hori Hayabusa, and a number of other joysticks that have long shaft stems above their pivot points; the Seimitsu joysticks are known for having shorter handle stem-to-pivot distance which is why at least half of them have SS Mounting Plates that curve upward. Within the right ‘universal mounting brackets’ on in-production joysticks, the SS Plates fit flush against the bottom of the faceplate and make up most of the difference in length between Seimitsu-style joysticks and longer-shaft joysticks like the JLF. Without this, you’re forced to use longer replacement shafts, shaft extensions, OR drill out the existing bracket mount assembly and improvise your own attachment points for a joystick. OR you can play with a Seimitsu joystick that has extremely short shaft clearance above the faceplate…
On the Arcana Heart 2 joysticks and all the other licensed HRAP’s like it, you are forced to use the non-standard RE: Mounting Plate to install the LS-32 and LS-40 in those joysticks unless you mod the faceplate OR radically modify the plastic base of the joystick itself. (I would leave the joystick lever itself alone and attempt other mods first.) The SS Mounting Plate simply doesn’t fit on the non-universal mounting bracket which was designed for the Sanwa JLF.
It’s a JLF world!
If you attempt to install an LS-32 or LS-40 in an unmodded Arcana Heart 2 bracket mount, the stick shaft will come up short. You can still play with the control lever, yes, but you’ll be constantly rubbing the upper faceplate surface with your hand. I don’t know how important the original sticker artwork is for you but it WILL be ruined and rubbed off in very short time if you use the joystick a lot.
*FYI, the Tekken 5/HRAP 1 plexi protectors that Art Hong sells at Tek Innovations are the ones to buy to protect the artwork if you want to save it that badly… He doesn’t list them on the front page/product links of his website anymore so you have to e-mail him and ask him for the weblink connections to order these plexis.