Over the past few months i’ve ran into the work of ENTH Creations. I love their sleek, minimal approach to fighting game controllers. They are totally underrated but are growing in popularity with the announcement of new fighting games like Tekken 7 and Street Fighter 6.
The founder was an avid graffiti artist so ENTH and Arcade Press both share an admiration for the arts—-especially where they crossover with arcade culture. Check out my full conversation with ENTH Creations, custom, high-quality arcade controllers of Italian craftsmanship.
Note: All fightstcks and images of input devices are designed by ENTH creations
AP: Hey there, big fan of your work. How’ve you been?
ENTH: Good. A thousand things to do, little money, but a ton of ideas. I hope you and Arcade Press do great too.
AP: Oh we’re great. Looking forward to the future of gaming. How long have you been building input devices?
ENTH: About two and a half years. I started for fun with a 3d printer by making a huge and really disproportionate arcade stick (which no one has ever seen, of course). During the first lockdown I got a taste for it. I wanted to change some things in my life and so I started making controllers. I kept improving. Above all, I wanted to do something that emotionally involved me and that allowed me to draw. Then it got more serious.
AP: What is the meaning of ENTH?
ENTH: Good question, ENTH is somehow a tribute to the Ent from The Lord of the Rings. The trees. I've always liked the way they go into battle. Thoughtful, apparently slow, but firm and once in battle unstoppable. They struck few but devastating blows. I'm not the little skirmish type.
AP: I've noticed you like graffiti culture - how do your sleek, modern controllers intersect artistically?
ENTH: I am 42 when I was 18 I made graffiti, I grew up with the idea of the Crew, of friendship based on creativity and style competition.I was lucky with those of my generation to do graffiti and witness the birth of the first street art. Today street art means large public paintings, buildings revalued through the artistic intervention of Street Artists. However, when street art was born it was born as tagging through the use of very simple logo-images that were attached to the walls to make themselves known, in the same way that writers made their name known with tags. Everything was very fast. Speed and ease of reading the images were the core of the first street art. The visual simplicity of that street art influenced me. I have been drawing a lot and doing logo-design for a long time. The attitude of having to summarize very briefly, which is typical of logo-design and precisely of the first street art, led me to look for a counterpart for this simplicity while making controllers.
I keep the spirit of collectivity and healthy competition from graffiti-culture, the visual synthesis of street art. I believe that my controllers, despite their simplicity, incorporate a reference to the aesthetic and way of thinking that was in vogue during the 2000s.
AP: What's your perspective on non-lever controllers in tournaments?
ENTH: Personally, I play using an arcade stick and for this reason I have the issue of parity between the various devices very much at heart. I am a big fan of arcade sticks and I spend a lot of my time thinking about how to make them competitive and I respect those who are committed to this aspect, but I recognize that the Arcade culture that generated arcade sticks, intended as hybrids between joypads for consoles and cabinets, is moving away over time. My generation has in its DNA the muscle memory of the levers used when we were children and teenagers at the arcades, while the new generations do not have this muscle memory. They've probably never played on a cabinet, that's the truth, time passes, nobody is guilty. The new generations have grown up playing on keyboards, they have WASD in their blood. Leverless layouts are very successful for this reason, regardless of the competitive advantages they can offer. You can't force players to use an arcade stick. So the answer is that of course and rightfully leverless controllers cannot be excluded from tournaments.
I could try to provide some suggestions on how to reformulate the SOCD cleaner operating scheme in Neutral mode, but I fly over.
If I really had to expose myself, I would say that for tournaments I am in favor of leverless, even with repeated cardinal directions or Joystick-button mixes as long as the joystick and buttons of the cardinal directions do not use the D-pad and the Left or Right stick separately in order to circumvent the socd cleaning procedure. The terminal scheme of our board, for example, is designed to split the cardinal directions without however evading the Socd Cleaner.
Theory aside, I believe that the competition, in some way regulated, ends with the victory of the best, that's enough. You can play with a leverless controller, but if you are not good enough you will be defeated anyway. Guaranteed no cheat, skill is what counts.
AP: What inspired the minimal/elegant design?
ENTH: Artistic training and the aesthetic of 90s products. Sony products for example carry on the 90s aesthetics even today, I like them a lot.
Achieving that kind of minimalism and technical perfection would be a milestone.
When I started making controllers there were people who were already doing amazing things. I rolled up my sleeves and really put my all into developing ENTH.
AP: Favorite fighting games? Which games are you most excited about?
Personally, I have been a Street Fighter Alpha 3 player for many years (since 1998), let's say that I prefer sprites to pure 3d renders even if we have made great strides in the synthesis of the two things.
I really like Street Fighter 5 and I'm waiting for Street Fighter 6.
Recently I'm dedicating myself, in my spare time, to studying the basic logic of Street Fighter on old titles like SSF2X, there the zoning and the technique were everything. I really like old-school Shoot 'em Ups. They relax me.
Beat 'em up aside, I've been a decently strong Graw2 player on PC back in the days. At the peak of my career I ended games with 80+ kills and 4 deaths on narrow maps like Arroyo, using only the MRC, the basic light machine gun. I remember that period with great affection. Multiplayer was very different from today, of course.
I am also curious to play Tekken 8.
AP: Why do you build arcade sticks?
ENTH: In general, to experience the feelings i felt at 17—-that free-spirited feeling I got from playing with friends in my room.