Ultra Street Fighter IV

Ultra Street Fighter IV

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Hoss's Guide to: Picking the right Fightstick
De Hoss
Here, I'll breakdown all kinds of Fightsticks that are or are not worth your hard earned Government-controlled pieces of green paper, in Tiers. I'll show you which ones are simply the best possible Fightsticks to own, which are an absolute must for beginners, and which ones to not even make eye contact with when in the store. So without any further delay, let's get to it.

Please note: A Fightstick is as much of a tool as it is a learning device. You will need to put in the work to get results, buying the best Fightstick isn't going to make you Godlike, so keep that in mind.
 
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Introduction to Fightsticks



A Fightstick is something precious to a fighting game veteran. It is, essentially, an extension of one's body. Once you become familiar with a Fightstick, you will never go back to a controller.

Ever.

Fightsticks provide the most precision and the most feedback one can get when playing a fighting game. But there are so many out there, some cheap and some expensive, it can be hard to know where to start. For starters, you should not dive right into the most expensive Fightstick you can get your hands on. That is a recipe for disaster. If you end up being unable to learn how to use it, or simply do not like it, you are out of upwards to $300, if you are unable to return it. So with this guide I'll break down a bunch of Fightsticks in Tiers that you can look into, and avoid, if you're in the market for a superior form of control in your fighting games.

Every single Fightstick in this guide, I have used. To some extent. I own some of them, or have owned in the past, or I've just had extensive use with them at the house of a friend or otherwise. There are Fightsticks I have used that I will not include in this guide, simply to weed out the good and bad, and reduce filler. So, knowing this, let's get you on that path to becoming a better player. And please remember; this guide is strictly based on my personal opinion on the Fightsticks that lie within, the Tiers are simply my way of showing you which are priority, once you've learned how to use a Fightstick and which ones are simply not worth your time, and everything inbetween.

Here is a video of Maximilian talking about Fightsticks, how they can affect your game, and other aspects of owning one:



And here is a very solid video by Gootecks on the basics of using your Fight Stick:



Possible follow-up guide: Hoss's Guide to: How to use your Fightstick as well as additional Fightsticks to be added later

Note: Prices are in USD and may vary
S-Tier Fightsticks: Pack your bags because you're going to EVO


Buying any of these Fightsticks will turn you into Bruce Hsiang (GamerBee) and take you to EVO.

I guarantee it.


MadCatz Fightstick PRO
$299
Vewlix layout
A+
Full-metal base
Cable storage built-in
Sanwa buttons & JLF

Notes: Very excellent Fightstick, I've used one a little bit here and there and it outweighs the other MadCatz TE Fightsticks by far. Very solid feeling and the stick itself feels incredibly smooth and has great feedback. My only gripe is all main-controls such as the Turbo switch, lock/unlock, etc. are right above the buttons themselves. Also very easy to mod.



eTokki Omni
$195
Namco layout
A+
Full-metal base
PS3/360 dual stick
Sanwa buttons & JLF

Notes: Very solid construction and has an amazing weight to it. The stick sits at a great height and has good feedback with rolls. Buttons have a nice pop and are extremely responsive.



HORI VLX
$270
Vewlix layout
A+
Wide lap-ready base
Sanwa buttons & JLF
Easy open service bay

Notes: Excels in construction, feel and weight. Might be a bit too large for some people but provides great comfort with lap-play. Buttons are some of the most responsive you'll find, and the Fightstick as a whole can be modded very easily.



MadCatz TE 'S'
$220
Vewlix layout
A
Flat sides & base
Sanwa buttons & JLF
Improved service bay

Notes: Have had a few of these, and they are solid for modding and general use. Tough design and great insides and all around very good construction. Buttons feel great and have a nice click, stick has good rolls and feedback.



SEGA HSS-0130
$350
Difficult to mod
B+
Dreamcast-only
2-player Fightstick
Can be cabinet mounted

Notes: Have not had much experience with this, but overall for some great, classic Dreamcast fightans, I'd use nothing else. Great for couch-play, and has some solid feeling sticks to boot.
A-Tier Fightsticks: These get the job done
These Fightsticks are GREAT once you get familiar with how to use a Fightstick properly and provide very good feedback and play if taken care of.


HORI Fighting Edge
$200
Namco layout
A+
Hayabusa stick-inset
Fully remappable buttons
Oversized base for lap-play

Notes: My current Fightstick, I really love it, and the weight is fantastic. Excellent button feel and pop and the base is a stellar size for lap-play. Remappable EVERYTHING is also a very good thing. Also very easy to mod. I highly recommend this Fightstick, once you're comfortable with using one and have moved up in quality and preference.



HORI RAP N3-SA
$135
Namco layout
A
Hidden Start button
Sanwa buttons & JLF
Ceramic-innards for quality

Notes: Has a nice, chunky feel to it. Feels solid and isn't overly thick. Buttons feel great if you're used to Sanwas, so you'll feel right at home. Stick has good rolls and feedback which is always nice. Buttons might be a little too close to the stick itself for some people.



JoyTron EXChanger
$200
Vewlix layout
A-
EZ-Open service bay
Accepts Sanwa buttons & JLF
Crown stick & generic buttons

Notes: Have only used this Fightstick a few times but overall was a great experience. Buttons feel flat, though. But easy access to the insides provides for great mod capabilities.



MadCatz Tournament Edition
$180
Easy to mod
B
Ceramic-innards
Known PCB issues
Sanwa buttons & JLF

Notes: Was my go-to Fightstick for a long time, great insides and buttons feel so nice. You've got a very solid stick that will be hard to top. Very good beginner Fightstick for its size and overall quality. Next to the HORI BlazBlue CT, this could also be a first-purchase.
B-Tier Fightsticks: A little rough around the edges
These are all great Fightsticks for beginners and can easily be first-purchases without too much worry of breaking the bank. Some might be too small for most people, but overall there's a nice variety here for anyone who's looking to step into the Fightstick market.


HORI BlazBlue CT
$120
Remodeled HRAP EX
A
Sanwa JLF & generic buttons

Notes: Chunky feeling, if not a bit cheap feeling. Has generic buttons but can be modded if you take the time. Great beginner Fightstick, in my opinion, and truthfully should be your first Fightstick purchase.



Qanba Q4 RAF
$190
Vewlix layout
A-
Sanwa buttons & JLF
Occasional USB failure

Notes: Another stellar beginner Fightstick. Has a very solid stick inside and true Sanwa buttons which is nice to have in a vanilla Fightstick. Only downside is all models have been known to have slight USB failures where it will not register when plugged in.



MadCatz TvC
$90
Vewlix layout
B+
High-grade generics
Can be used on PC via adapter

Notes: Great Fightstick for the Wii. The only Fightstick for the Wii, I think. Not completely sure. Kind of small, but great for people with smaller hands. Moddable, but can be a pain in the♥♥♥♥♥♥to do so. Can also be used on a PC via USB adapter.



SEGA Virtua Stick High Grade
$150
SEGA layout
B+
Hard to mod
Full-metal chassis
Sanwa buttons & JLF

Notes: Very solid Fightstick but holy♥♥♥♥♥♥is it hard to mod, if you're going for that. It's great in a vanilla state, but you might want to swap out the stick itself for a higher grade Sanwa stick.
C-Tier Fightsticks: Great for learning how to mod
These are good but not great. Nice to pick up and learn on, without spending too much money, beofre moving up a Tier to bigger and better things. Not many to list here, sadly.


HORI Tekken Wireless
$100
Generic parts
B-
Insides are soldered
Slight delay via wireless input

Notes: It's wireless, so there will be some input delay, but it's great for offline play. If you plan to use this online, prepare for wireless delay AND input lag from latency all around. Soldered insides mean modding is difficult. Good, solid beginner's Fightstick.



Qanba Q2 Standard
$100
Standard layout
B-
Sanwa buttons & JLF
LED Glow rings on buttons

Notes: Much like the Q4, very solid Fightstick, but a tiny bit less so, due to quality being dropped in favour of glowing buttons.



Qanba Q1 Table
$100
Standard layout
C
Generic insides
Table clamp for teh lulz

Notes: It's a nice Fightstick for beginners but you might want to look elsewhere if you want quality. The table clamp is nice, but feels gimmicky and overall just gets in the way. Though, most models of this Fightstick include hex and circle gates on top of the included suqare gate, which is a nice addition.
D-Tier Fightsticks: Gootecks uses these for Shot-putting


Don't even touch these. They are garbage, will rob you of your money and time and most likely fall to pieces within the first week of purchase. Make a mental note of what these are so you can avoid them.



HORI EX2
$60
Very difficult to mod
F
Completely trash insides



X-Arcade
$130
Awful layout
F
Garbage insides
Frequent PCB failure



Playtech PRO
$60
Garbage insides
F
Wide as hell layout
Loose construction



PDP Mortal Kombat
$90
Only great for MK
F
Mortal Kombat layout
Garbage insides & stick

Notes: Just ignore all of these Fightsticks at all costs.
Don't want a Fightstick, but want to improve? Try a Fightpad!
So here's your situation: You want to improve your game, but don't want to get a Fightstick, or simply can't afford one. That's cool, man. We've all been there. You can still use a controller, and improve. But, not just any controller; a Fightpad. Fightpads harken back to the Genesis era of controllers, in terms of layout and build. They fit nicely in the hands, control very well and much better than your standard dual-stick controller and provide far more control and feedback. They are relatively affordable, most running around $30-$40. Have all kinds of artwork and come in two sizes: Standard and super-deformed (small).

I use one, personally, when I want to get a few matches in but am too lazy, or not in the proper enviroment, for a Fightstick. They aren't a replacement, per se, but they get the job done and are the only kind of ''pad'' I use outside of a Fightstick. I won't grade them, as there are too few to pick from, so I will list the few kinds there are and let you go about your business. They all have a dish-style, concave flaoting D-Pad that provides very good control, large, chunky buttons that feel great under the fingertips and two very solid shoulder buttons, and they also have stick-switches in the back as well as a rubberized backing plate.

I highly recommend you buy Xbox 360 versions of any of these, as they are Xinput and PC-ready.


MadCatz Fightpads
$30
Solid construction
Nice & chunky buittons
Comfortable & responsive floating D-Pad



PDP Fightpads
$15-$60
Nice construction
Flat, chunky buttons
Nub-style D-pad & Offset shape
Modding your Fightstick
If you plan to mod your Fightstick, there is one place you can go for a lot of basics when it comes to materials, custom plates, etc., and that place is Art's Hobbies:

-Art's Hobbies[www.tek-innovations.com]

And you can also shop over at Focus Attack, for various sticks, buttons, ball tops, gates and more:

-Focus Attack[www.focusattack.com]

And a secondary parts shop with great stock and service is Paradise Arcade Shop. They have a great selection of balltops and buttons, sticks and cases and even custom plexi, all at great prices:

-Paradise Arcade Shop[www.paradisearcadeshop.com]

Also be sure to give Canadian Joysticks a look. They have a nice selection of balltops and various parts with decent prices:

-Canadian Joysticks[www.canadianjoysticks.com]

And just to give you an idea on what is involved in modding, here is a tutorial on how to mod a MadCatz Tounament Edition Fightstick, taught by Markman himself. Please keep in mind the process will vary from Fightstick to Fightstick, but this will at least show you what kind of work goes into the modding process, and will help guage if you're comfortable enough doing this yourself.

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3


Part 4


Part 5
Closing
Hopefully this can put you on the right track to finding the Fightstick just for you. There are many more out there, so be sure to reasearch on what is inside of them, if they can be modded and if they will work for your console and or PC.

Have fun! And if this guide was of any use to you, I'd appreciate the Thumbs Up and a comment to let me know what I can improve, or if you have any specific questions. :)
Changelog
June 23, 2014:
-Removed a stick that is no longer in production and impossible to find

June 24, 2014:
-Added letter grades
-Added Fightpad section

June 25, 2014:
-Killed typos
-Price changes
-Fixed a broken image
-Revised info on a few Fightsticks
-Added a Youtube video detailing Fightsticks to the Intro

July 2, 2014:
-Added images to D-Tier Fightsticks section as per request
-Added Focus Attack store link for various modding materials

July 4, 2014:
-Added new parts shops listings
-Added a new section devoted to mod supplies
-Added a tutorial on how to mod your Fightstick w/ Markman

August 13, 2014:
-Corrected price on Madcatz Fightstick PRO

August 23, 2014:
-Updated some information about two Fightsticks and updated prices

February 5, 2015:
-Added a tutorial video by Gootecks on the basics of using your Fight Stick

April 27, 2015:
-Fixed some broken code under bracket images

July 23, 2015:
-Fixed some prices and broken images and typos
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235 commentaires
Sepums 11 oct. 2017 à 8h04 
Awesome guide and very helpful, thank you.
What do you think about the Razer Panthera, HORI Fighting Stick Mini or the HORI Fighting Commander pad?
Hoss  [créateur] 13 août 2017 à 13h49 
I don't use a Hitbox
Uzay 11 août 2017 à 7h35 
No Hitbox?
Zephyr 9 avr. 2017 à 12h03 
RIP Mad Catz :headstone:
11 janv. 2017 à 18h26 
Great guide, helped a lot.
ChronosSolar 20 déc. 2016 à 20h52 
Hey, sorry to bother you, but what are your comments on the MadCatz TES+ if you used one, or how it compares with the plain TES?
Hoss  [créateur] 18 déc. 2016 à 13h02 
Try reading the guide and you'll know where it is.
Zyzz 18 déc. 2016 à 4h21 
Where Hori RAP4 KAI?
BLKBRDSR71 24 oct. 2016 à 15h46 
I'm currently using a Sega Saturn USB pad. It's not xinput, but it works. I also have an Xbox 360 wired controler, for my analog needs. I just need a good (cheap) usb driving wheel. < $45.00, I'm too poor to aford anything over $50.
WreckSpice 18 oct. 2016 à 22h37 
Glad I chose to get the MadCatz Fightstick PRO when it was still $100 back in 2014 lol