Sticks vs Gamepads
It’s very likely that most fans of the 2D and 3D fighting genres have experienced gaming in arcades at some point in their lives and spent their fair share of coins. The problem is that most people have very limited time with arcade machines and they became much better players with the use of Gamepads because gaming consoles allow for a more affordable and convenient option.
There is no question that playing a fighting game with an arcade stick and playing it with a gamepad are two completely different things. The fighting game experience is heavily affected by the use of a gamepad such as the regular Xbox or PlayStation controllers. Even the gamepads that have been designed for fighting games fall short in terms of accuracy in the motions you perform.
The use of a gamepad for fighting games is not even half as enjoyable and accurate according to most people in the fighting game community and this is quite apparent when you see the overwhelming number of players who use arcade sticks at tournaments.
Looking at events such as Evolution and the Capcom Pro Tour, you can see that most, if not all players are using all kinds of arcade stick models. The popularity of arcade sticks has grown significantly in the last 5 years and it continues to move forward at a steady pace.
There is a debate between some gamers and a large number of players claim that you can’t reach the same level of execution and accuracy on a gamepad that you reach on sticks. Without getting too technical about it, there are some obvious advantages in the stick. Your excution will be enhanced due to the layout of the buttons and the stick being used for your motion inputs instead of a flat d-pad.
A regular gamepad makes muffled sounds that you can hardly hear, but an arcade stick allows you to memorize execution and sound. This means that you can learn all kinds of moves and combos by execution and sound. This is something that is impossible to achieve with a gamepad.
Types of arcade sticks
There are several types of arcade sticks out there and we are going to talk about their features and what makes them ideal depending on the kind of characters that you use.
This is the Japanese version of the arcade stick handle and it has become the most popular for many players in Europe and the US as well. It seems to allow for the most versatile grips and this is the reason why it has become a favorite pick for many professional and amateur players in the fighting game community.
This is the American version of the arcade stick handle and it used to be the most common shape for handles in arcade sticks all over the United States. There are very few players in modern competitive gaming that use bat tops, but it continues to have number of followers who find it more efficient.
All arcade sticks are built with gates that restrict corner movements in different ways. There are two gates that are still used in all kinds of arcade sticks.
The square gate stick is the most popular in Asia and it has gained a huge following in Europe and America as well. The gate is shaped like a square and this means there are four corners on the stick movement. It’s ideal for motion characters in fighting games such as Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter or Sol BadGuy from Guilty Gear.
This is the most popular version that old arcade cabinets used to have in the US. Their use in the latest commercial console arcade sticks is not that common, but this 8-corner gate is known for being perfect for 360 motion characters like Zangief from Street Fighter.
Types of holds
You can watch the greatest fighting video game players show you how they hold the stick when they play, but the truth is that all people have different comfort levels that are going to help them get as good as possible in the game. The best thing is to learn about all of them and try them out to see how comfortable you feel when you perform moves.
This one is called wineglass because it’s exactly the same as holding a glass of wine. You place the stick between your middle and ring fingers and they you close your hand as if holding a glass. Then you place your thumb at the top of the stick handle.
This is probably the most comfortable way for anyone who uses motion characters to hold the stick. It’s the exact same as wineglass, but instead of placing the stick between the middle and ring fingers, you place it between the ring finger and the pinky.
If you own a bat pop arcade stick, this is probably going to be the ideal way for you to hold the stick. All you have to do is grab the stick as if you would grab a regular shaped glass and then place your thumb on top of the stick handle.
This is a more relaxed and loose grip, but for some people it provides very solid and accurate movement, while others feel it sacrifices their reaction, but the truth is that any professional players use it successfully. Place the stick between the tip and middle segments on your fingers and rest your thumb at the top of the stick handle.
Grip of Doom
This is not a very effective way to hold the stick for most arcade stick players, but it seems to be popular amongst players that do speed runs and world records on old school games like Pacman, Galaga and Donkey Kong.
The Nintendo Entertainment system had an arcade stick. It wasn’t a very populate purchase back in the day, but this stick is now a collector’s item that every fan of the NES wants to own.
The Sega Genesis had a decent library of fighting games and they also released an arcade stick. The structure was quite small and the buttons would wear out fast without maintenance, but this is a great collector’s item that can still be found in a functional state today.
The super Nintendo had a very robust library of fighting games and Nintendo released two arcade sticks for the console. Both versions are good, but the score master (second photo) had the best button layout.
Even with a fighting game library of only a handful of games, the N64 released an arcade stick that allowed players to get the arcade experience as well as all the features of the standard gamepad. You also had the option to place the stick in the d-pad or the joystick area.
The Sega Saturn had a nice library of fighting games and action adventure games that felt suitable for this arcade stick. Unfortunately the Saturn didn’t live to expectations and this stick was limited to a small number of copies.
This was the most popular console in the late 90’s and it had an impressive library of fighting games in 3D and 3D. The arcade stick for the PSX was the first arcade stick on a console that saw a significant number of sales, but those numbers did not go high enough until the following generation of systems came out.
The Panasonic 3DO was barely known by most gamers, but it had one of the best SSF2T console ports back in the day as well as a few exclusive fighting games. The Arcade stick was only released in Japan.
This has been the most beloved console in gaming history that lasted just a few years on the market. The Sega Dreamcast has some of the best ports from great fighting game arcade classics and it’s a shame that Sega was unable to compete due to limitations on disc space and no DVD compatibility. The Dreamcast stick was the first one to come out with a similar look to the modern console sticks.
While the GameCube lacked a fighting library as extensive as the one on PS2 and Xbox, it had a few great fighting games that made it worth the purchase. The arcade stick was quite good, but it didn’t sell that many copies and the production was low too.
The Xbox was a very popular console for FPS games, but it did have a good share of fighting games to offer to gamers. The stick they released was a failure due to the shape and how inconvenient it was for most gamers.
The PS2 is probably the most popular 3D gaming console due to the incredible library of fighting games available. Arcade stick sales for the PS2 started to show promising numbers and a new found love for this sort of controller was beginning to grow.
Like all Nintendo consoles, the Wii is not the ideal console for fighting game enthusiasts, but they did release a series of arcade sticks for the console.
The sales for the PS3 sticks marked the true beginning of the new era of arcade stick gaming. While the number of sales was still not close to the sales in current times, this was a defining moment for arcade sticks as a viable product. There are many models available from difefernt companies.
Just like it happened with the PS3, the sales for the Xbox 360 arcade sticks made it quite clear that we had reached a whole new stage in the evolution of the arcade stick. There are also many models available from difefernt companies.
While the Wii U is not a console that fighting game players would choose, there are enough games in their library that can be played with sticks and they released several models themes after different games too.
With extremely popular fighting games being released exclusively on the PS4, the market for arcade sticks continues to grow more and more and the sales for the SFV stick are huge in the fighting game community in the US and Japan.
The Xbox one is also going to be joining the arcade stick battle with a great stick that tournament players are going to love to use for their favorite fighting games.