I've been a huge fan of fighting games ever since I was a child. For a long time, I played my favorite games using the controller designed for my system. As a child, I never really thought about how a different controller could boost or enhance my playing abilities. That was until I discovered arcade sticks, my fighting game experience was never the same from that day forth.
When you look at the core mechanics behind fighting games like Street Fighter and Tekken, they are meant to be played with a fight stick on those arcade machines. In the early days of fighting games around the time when consoles were first released, many people still flocked to traditional arcade setups.
Before console fighting allowed people to play versus game mode, opposing players stood together in-person while using two different arcade sticks to battle each other on the screen. Now, opposing players compete in entirely separate homes via an internet connection.
Advances in gaming technology have caused many people to stray away from conventional arcade sticks. But, if you want a genuine competitive fighting experience, there is no other option. For gamers accustomed to using a controller pad to play fighting games, switching to an arcade stick will require some getting used to.
On average, it can take about two months for someone to become accustomed to arcade stick fighting controls. Personally, for me, it took about three months before I was able to complete full combinations using an arcade stick.
Suppose you don't want to take time to learn new finger movements and controller skills using an arcade stick. It would help if you considered trying a hitbox controller first to see how you like it. A hitbox controller is a whole different story, so I won't focus on that here!
As it relates to me, I've been using an arcade stick since the first day I picked one up. For me, I can see why people rant and rave about arcade sticks so much now. They provide several benefits in comparison to a traditional game controller pad. If you have a passion for fighting games, I can tell you that arcade sticks are totally worth it!
For starters, arcade sticks provide a flat layout that makes it easy for you to move your finger from one button combination to another without using too much dexterity in your hands. The buttons on arcade sticks are much larger than those on conventional gaming pads. For someone like me, this is a considerable advantage because my hands are on the larger size, so the more space, the better.
Arcade sticks provide more of a linear input control method, in my opinion than gaming controller pads. This is a huge advantage in fighting games because there are no complex maneuvers that require rapid finger movements outside of the attack button and combinations.
Arcade sticks allow you to customize your stick's look by adding stickers or changing the main faceplate, who doesn't want their own unique controller? Don't get confused just because arcade sticks are considered a conventional form of controllers for fighting games. The companies manufacturing them always upgrade their firmware so they are compatible with new consoles like the PS5. So getting an arcade stick that will be compatible with future consoles, unlike gaming pads is definitely worth it!
Something else you'll need to consider is the price. Arcade sticks can become quite expensive relatively quickly, depending on the specific model and design you choose. For me, this wasn't an issue because I have a real passion for fighting games and have been using my arcade stick ever since I've got it.
Whether you're a hobbyist gamer or a professional, arcade sticks can provide many practical enhancements to your gaming experience. Their robust nature and customization options are what really drew me into arcade sticks at first. Now, after using one for several years, I can't see myself using a regular controller pad again.
When I got my first arcade stick, I was kind of skeptical about spending a ton of money on one. So, I ended up going with the Mayflash F300, a relatively affordable yet very capable arcade stick that gave me lots of memorable combo action. However, knowing what I know now, I would've gone with a more expensive option for my first arcade stick since they tend to be of higher quality.
The current arcade stick I use is the Qanba Obsidian, an officially licensed product for the PS3, PS4, and PS5 consoles. I would highly recommend it if you're looking for a quality arcade stick you can use.