With Street Fighter 6 on the way next year and a successful closed beta behind it, you might be thinking about investing in an arcade stick in anticipation of Capcom’s next fighting game.
There are many reasons to get an arcade stick. With one, you can play many of the best fighting games in a more ‘authentic’ capacity – the more common type of arcade stick mimics the 6-button layout you’d find on arcade cabinets, and they’ll work great with upcoming fighters. as Street Fighter 6.
Arcade sticks, with their big plastic buttons and clickable joysticks, are immensely satisfying to use. They are also highly customizable; many stick owners choose to switch between ‘ball’ or ‘bat’ tops for the joystick itself and concave or convex buttons. If you’re the aesthetic type, you can buy them in just about any color you can imagine.
Much like the service Microsoft offers with the Xbox Design Lab, you can make an arcade stick your own unique beast. They’re also a fantastic way to support indie creators with custom arcade boards, a common service on sites like Etsy.
So arcade sticks look great. But when it comes to playing fighting games competitively, they don’t offer a clear edge over modern controllers like the DualSense.
purely a preference
As the influence of arcades continues to wane in the modern era, many fighting game makers now develop consoles first. Custom control schemes in fighting games rely on certain button combinations, allowing shortcuts to special moves or defensive utilities, for example. This isn’t unique to controllers, of course, but it does allow 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 often 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.
Above all, it’s a matter of comfort and preference: you might feel more at home using an arcade than a controller if you regularly play fighting games. A stick player is not at a disadvantage when facing a pad player and vice versa. And it’s not uncommon to see controlling players win in big tournaments.
However, there is a type of controller that can have arcade and pad players banging.
One type of controller that has grown in popularity in recent years is the Hit Box, which swaps the joystick for a set of buttons, similar to the arrow keys on a keyboard. There are several advantages here, most notably that pressing a button will instantly move your character, whereas with a joystick there is some travel time between the neutral position and the desired direction.
Hit Box eliminates this lag almost entirely, meaning you will technically be able to move and react faster than an opponent on a pad or stick. This is why some tournaments do not allow Hit Boxes, although they are generally considered a viable control option in the fighting game community.
If you want exact precision in your moves, you should look for a Hit Box. They are key in 3D fighters like Tekken 7, where fast and steady movement is the key to victory.
You won’t know whether or not you prefer an arcade (or a Hit Box) unless you try one out for yourself. And you don’t have to break the bank to find good options.
Brands like 8BitDo, Hori, and Mayflash sell great entry-level drumsticks to help you find your feet. And if they’re not your thing with fighting games, know that they’re also a fantastic controller option for classic arcade games, many of which come 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 arcades are right for you. Street Fighter 6 is just around the corner, and Tekken 8 looks like it will follow not long after. There are a lot of quality fighting games on the horizon, perfect for testing the waters with a new peripheral.