Kotaku Gift Guide: Arcade Sticks

Kotaku Gift Guide: Arcade Sticks

Unless you’re a ‘serious’ consumer of fighting games — meaning you like to compete online or at local tournaments — and arcade stick is a bit of luxury. It’s hardly something you need. Then again, I do totally own two annoyingly expensive arcade sticks, but that’s just how I roll (also: I’m broke).

Still, even if you’re a more casual purveyor of fighting games, it’s always pretty boss to bust out some arcade sticks when friends are over. For this reason, here is a quick and rough guide to some of the better Arcade sticks on offer. If you disagree — and I’m sure you will! — feel free to bombard me in the comments below!

Hori Real Arcade PRO 3 VLX: 30,000 Yen

Disclaimer: I have not had the chance to test this arcade stick. They’re actually pretty hard to get a hold of, and you’ll most likely need to import, but if you’re interested in picking up the absolute best arcade stick on the market, this is most likely your best bet based on the feedback I’ve heard. Getting one of these, however, will be incredibly tough — both Amazon and PlayAsia are currently sold out. It retails in Japan for 30,000 yen, which is almost $400. Yep. Pretty pricey.

Official Street Fighter IV Round 2 Tournament Edition: $229

Kotaku Gift Guide: Arcade Sticks

I have the original version of this bad boy, and I have no complaints — besides the fact it’s a wired controller, but I’m sure that’s a plus for the serious players who use this (with repsonse lag and all). The major selling point for these controllers is, of course, the fact that all the major materials are from SANWA. That may not be too much of a priority if you’re on a budget, but for those who want high quality materials, this is a pretty big deal. This is arguably the best mid-range stick on the market.

WWE All Stars Brawlstick: $TBC

Kotaku Gift Guide: Arcade Sticks

If you can get over the fact that this is a WWE branded arcade stick, this is a great budget effort that will suit more casual fighters just find. I have one of these as my secondary arcade stick when friends are over, and it’s well made, responsive and worthwhile. It doesn’t feature the SANWA parts of its bigger brother above, but chances are you won’t miss them. We called the local Mad Catz distributors and the apparently they don’t distribute them locally, but you should be able to import one for less than $100.

Any other suggestions? I’m not exactly a connoisseur, so I’m totally willing to have my choices torn apart by you guys! Let me know in the comments below.


  • Hey Mark,

    Your picture of the Round 2 TE stick is actually a Round 1 TE stick.

    I own about 6 arcade sticks, all from Madcatz.

    Unfortunately, in Australia, you need to import if you want to get the rarer varieties of stick than whats normally available here. I cant speak for HORI but I’m sure they’re quality too 🙂

    JB Hifi and EB Games tend to sell the normal Round 2 sticks (Black colour) if you can still find them. Usually between $150-$200

    Although, the rarer varieties of the Madcatz TE are pretty much impossible to buy here locally from a store.

    If you can find one online, I’d highly recommend the Chun Li TE-Slim Madcatz stick. I’d recommend this one over the other variants due to its reduction of the bezels on either side of the controls (compared to the Round1/2) and how its lightened weight doesnt at all reduce the stability or feel of the stick whether resting on your lap or on a stationary surface. The holographic surface of Miss Chun Li herself isnt too bad a design either.

    For the most part though, the other Madcatz TE sticks are all practically the same in terms of quality/parts apart from diffierent artwork designs.

    Soul Calibur V will be coming out with a new Madcatz TE stick soon which is what I find going to be as equally great as the Chun-Li stick.

    The Street Fighter x Tekken Madcatz stick though however is a weird redesign which I’m using at the moment. It’s truly an ugly stick and I’m having weird problems with it sensitivity-wise so I dont recommend it at all. I was willing to look past the ugliness to see if it felt better than the older versions but nah, I’m kinda disappointed.

    For the most part though, you’re gonna need a friend in the US to buy off the GAMESHARK/CAPCOM stores or be ready cough up for a forwarding agent to post these versions to you.

    • EB Games has been sold out of arcade sticks for quite some time (At least in VIC)
      I work for EB and I actually picked up the last Round 2 TE for PS3 we had, I had to travel a fair way to get it too.
      We did have some a few months back but I’m pretty sure all the 360 ones are gone now too.
      I do imagine with all the fighters coming out though we will be getting more in, I’m pretty sure we will be getting the SF X Tekken MadCatz sticks but I can’t be certain. We don’t seem to get the HORI sticks in however that may change, we will see.

  • I have the SFIV Tournament Edition stick. It’s really good. Also PC compatible which is a nice bonus if you like stuff that’s PC-only eg obscure Japanese shmups.

  • I don’t think I could ever justify spending anywhere near this much money on arcade sticks. The first 2 look awesome, the third, not some much. I can’t say I’d want a peripheral with sweaty, half naked men on it.

  • I first got a Hori arcade stick for 360, back when Big W was bundling them with MvC3. Only cost $50 in the end (traded MvC, thanks to already winning a copy of it :P), and I absolutely loved using it to play. The stick itself feels pretty great too. Then a few months back, I saw that Zavvi had the Tatsunoko vs Capcom sticks for Wii on clearance, with free shipping it only cost me $50 for a pair of them. They’re identical to that WWE one there, except they plug into a Wii remote. Not sure I like the build quality quite as much as the Hori, but this one has the turbo function as well as the switch to change the stick between Left Analogue, Right Analogue and D-pad.

    Just a damn shame that Brawl’s Classic Controller mode doesn’t let you use the d-pad like you can with the plain Wii remote. Stupid game.

  • you can pick up the basic mad catz or hori units and swap in sanwa parts as a much cheaper option for a top end stick.

  • I own 6 arcade sticks. (mainly to help my local community in SA)

    2x SFIV SE (modded with Sanwa Buttons and Stick)
    2x SFIV TE
    2x Qanba Q4RAF (which come dual modded(ps3/360) straight out the box)

    JB Hi Fi had the TE’s on the cheap and had too much stock so they tended to sell them with new fighters online in bundles which saved me about $60 from each one.

    Problem is all these sticks are expensive due to the weight, if you’re trying to get into using a stick.

    The best training stick which will last a long while is a Hori VX. Cheap, sturdy and if you make the decision to take your fighters in a more competitive direction, you can always upgrade down the line.


    Just a tip to all those getting involved.

    1. Make sure you’re purchasing the right stick for the right game, games like SSFIV, UMVC3 run on 360 in Australia (and the world) due to a more stable programming compatibility with the console, PS3 tends to lag a bit more.

    Games such as Tekken & Blazblue. Run on PS3 due to the communities existing there and the availability of import (case of BB) most other niche fighters will run on PS3 as well for this reason.

    2. Don’t get a wireless stick. Signals cut out in crowded areas and are usually banned at tourneys.

    3. If you can afford to spend the money, buy a dual mod stick like a Qanba Q4. Comes with Arcade standard Hori Parts. (same as the TE’s and Hori’s ‘Pro’ series)


    4. Don’t expect immeadiate results, work at it and in months you should see some improvement. Get involved with your local community and they’ll be there to guide you through 😀

    5. Choose what is right for you, down the line you may prefer different parts which is available through modding. Or you still may prefer controller for certain games, it’s up to you :).

    For those interested further in getting involved with Australia’s FGC please check out.

    and introduce yourself 😀


  • I wrote Hori instead of Sanwa. =_=;

    Anyhow, 3 different button and stick types used.

    Sanwa, Seimitsu and Happ (American generally not used anymore)

    Sanwa is arcade standard now 🙂

  • Heads up on the wired, top end tourney’s only allow wired sticks as if a wireless stick/pad is not desynced from the console there’s a chance match will be interupted if a button is pressed.

    For instance, http://www.lansmash.com is running the OHN regional qualifiers this weekend in Brisbane for Super Street Fighter 4: AE and Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3.

    Full disclosure I’m and LS admin.

  • Protip: If you don’t want to spend so much on a pro stick, you can purchase a cheaper option and replace the buttons with SANWA parts. You’ll need to know what you’re doing and how to solder them though.

  • Also if you want to build your own stick from scratch try http://www.lizardlick.com/

    They have an awesome range of stuff and seem to be the cheapest to get stuff (even in Australia with the postage for the US).
    There might be a better option for Aussies but that is the best I have seen and they have everything you need.

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