With Street Fighter 6 on the way next year and a successful closed beta behind it, you may want to invest in an arcade stick before Capcom’s next fighting game.
There are many reasons to buy an arcade stick. With one you can play many of the best fighting games in a more ‘authentic’ capacity – the most common type of arcade stick mimics the 6 button layout you’d find on arcade cabinets, and they’ll work great with upcoming fighters like street fighter 6.
Arcade sticks, with their big plastic buttons and clicky joysticks, are immensely satisfying to use. They are also highly customizable; many stick owners choose to switch between ‘ball’ or ‘bat’ caps for the joystick and concave or convex buttons. If you are the aesthetically minded type, you can buy them in just about any color you can imagine.
Much like the service Microsoft offers with its Xbox Design Lab, you can make an arcade your own unique beast. They’re also a great way to support independent creators, with custom arcade stick skins, a common service on sites like Etsy.
So arcade sticks look and feel great. But when it comes to playing fighting games competitively, they don’t really give you a distinct advantage over modern controllers like the DualSense.
purely a preference
As the influence of arcades continues to wane in the modern age, many fighting game creators are now developing for consoles first. Custom control schemes in fighting games account for certain button combinations, allowing shortcuts to special moves or defensive utilities, for example. This isn’t unique to controllers, of course, but it allows them to be much more viable in the competitive space.
This means pad players have the option to access more of their character’s tools using fewer buttons. Certain commands that generally require more complex button input, such as Roman Cancels from Guilty Gear Strive or Rage Arts from Tekken 7, can be accessed with a single button press.
Mostly, it’s a matter of comfort and preference: you might feel more comfortable using an arcade stick instead of a controller if you play fighting games regularly. A stick player is not at a disadvantage when he faces a pad player, and vice versa. And it’s not uncommon to see controller players win major tournaments.
However, there is one type of controller that could make stick and pad arcade gamers outperform.
One type of controller that has gained popularity in recent years is the Hit Box, which swaps out the joystick for a set of buttons, similar to the arrow keys on a keyboard. There are multiple advantages here, mainly that pressing a button will move your character instantly, whereas with a joystick there is some travel time between the neutral position and the desired direction.
Hit Box eliminates that lag almost entirely, meaning you’ll technically be able to move and react faster than an opponent on a pad or stick. This is why some tournaments will not allow Hit Boxes, although they are generally considered a viable controller option within the fighting game community.
If you want to pinpoint precision in your moves, you need to look into a Hit Box. They are essential in 3D fighters like Tekken 7, where fast and constant movement is key to victory.
stay with it
You won’t know whether or not you prefer an arcade stick (or a Hit Box) unless you try one for yourself. And you don’t need to break the bank to find good options.
Brands like 8BitDo, Hori, and Mayflash all sell great entry-level sticks to help you find your feet. And if fighting games aren’t your thing, know that they’re also a fantastic controller option for classic arcade games, many of which are included in collections like Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga. Collection.
Plus, there’s no better time than now to see if arcade sticks are right for you. Street Fighter 6 is just around the corner, and it looks like Tekken 8 will follow soon after. So there are plenty of quality fighting games on the horizon, perfect for testing the waters with a new peripheral.