Step Into The Ring With An Arcade Fight Stick

Step Into The Ring With An Arcade Fight Stick
Image: 8BitDo
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If you’ve seen your fair share of fighting game tournaments, then you’re used to seeing players foregoing traditional controllers for fight sticks. These pads, which look like someone has ripped the controls off an arcade cabinet, are pretty much built to replicate the design and feel of these classic game systems.

While a fight pad isn’t something that everyone needs, if you consider yourself to be pretty unbeatable when it comes to fighting games, one of these could do you a lot of good. Especially if your taste runs more classic.

A fight stick is also a great way to capture the feeling of playing classic arcade-style games in the comfort of your own home, without a giant cabinet eating up a tonne of space (although if you’ve got the money, that’s still an option). As long as the game you’re playing doesn’t require multiple analogue sticks for input, you shouldn’t have any problems adding a fight stick.

Here’s what you need to know before picking up a fight pad, along with a few recommendations.

What do you need to know before buying a fight stick?

Step Into The Ring With An Arcade Fight StickNumber of buttons: Fight sticks usually have six or eight buttons, which is what you’ll map your game’s inputs to. How many buttons you need comes down to personal preference. For most modern pads, eight is the standard configuration. However, some fighting game enthusiasts prefer the six buttons because that’s the amount that traditional arcade cabinets use, so there are fewer unused buttons in the way.

Panel layout and placement: Are the buttons laid out in two straight rows, or is there a slight curve that emulates the shape of your finger lengths? Chances are that the buttons are curved, but the type of curve can vary from pad to pad.

The two most common button layouts are Namco Noir or Taito Vewlix, which have slightly different curve patterns – Noir is shaped like an inverse crescent while Vewlix is a convex slope. The type of layout also determines the fight stick’s overall button placement and spacing, with Noir pads placing its joystick closer to the buttons.

Pad size: For the sake of comfortability, your pad should have plenty of space for you to rest your wrist while using it. A larger pad will give you the option to use it while sitting on your lap. If your hand is hanging off the side of your pad, you’ll need a flat surface you can lay the pad onto.

Joystick type: Joysticks usually come in one of two design shapes: the lollipop or the baseball bat. The former is a ball head on a shaft, while the latter’s head tapers down to the shaft. Neither is better or worse than the other, and preference usually comes down to what you feel the most comfortable using.

Key Lock Mode: A handy feature, especially if you plan on participating in official tournaments. Key Lock Mode will disable the pad’s extra face buttons to help you to avoid accidentally hitting the start button while in the middle of a match – which is usually an instant disqualification.

What fight sticks do we recommend?

Hori Fighting Stick Alpha

arcade fight stick
Image: Hori
  • Platforms: Xbox One, Series X/S, PC
  • Buttons: 8
  • Layout: Namco Noir
  • Connection: Wired (USB)
  • Anything else worth knowing: Includes a dedicated Key Lock Mode switch and easily accessible internals for maintenance and customization.
  • Price: Currently $266.61 (down from $399.95)

Hori Real Arcade Pro N Hayabusa

arcade fight stick
Image: Hori
  • Platforms: PS4, PC
  • Buttons: 8
  • Layout: Namco Noir
  • Connection: Wired (USB)
  • Anything else worth knowing: Includes a touchpad, turbo function and an adjustable cover for the Options button.
  • Price: Currently $238.74 (down from $349.95)

Hori Real Arcade Pro V Hayabusa

Step Into The Ring With An Arcade Fight Stick
Image: Hori
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC
  • Buttons: 8
  • Layout: Taito Vewlix
  • Connection: Wired (USB)
  • Anything else worth knowing: Turbo function, underside rubber padding.
  • Price: Currently $170.12 (down from $399.95)

8BitDo Arcade Stick

arcade fight stick
Image: 8BitDo
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC
  • Buttons: 8
  • Layout: Taito Vewlix
  • Connection: Bluetooth, wired (USB-C)
  • Anything else worth knowing: Includes two macro buttons so you can easily switch between custom button profiles. Uses a universal joystick mounting plate, which allows for easy customization.
  • Price: Currently $149 (down from $169.95)

Mad Catz EGO Arcade FightStick

Step Into The Ring With An Arcade Fight Stick
Image: Mad Catz
  • Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.
  • Buttons: 8
  • Layout: Taito Vewlix
  • Connection: Wired (USB)
  • Anything else worth knowing: One of the few multi-platform fight pads around, making it a versatile option.
  • Price: Currently $144.50 (down from $289)

Comments

  • Are any of these suitable for PS5?
    Clicking on the ones that reference PS4, it doesn’t even mention the PS5 in the device list, so unsure…

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