Street Fighter IV Arcade Stick Roundup

You need an arcade stick to get the full Street Fighter IV experience at home. We take sticks from Mad Catz and Hori out for some spinning pile-driver and shoryuken fun.

Fighting games are one of the few game genres that aren't perfectly suited for play on the default Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 controllers. Street Fighter's one-joystick, six-button legacy control scheme comes from its arcade cabinet roots, but the home consoles have evolved with the gamepad. The first-party gamepads have enough inputs to map to the game's controls, but the physical interface and button layouts don't translate perfectly. Analog sticks have too much play to pull off moves effectively, and the directional pads on the Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers have their own issues that make them less than ideal for the quarter-, half-, and full-circle moves in the complete street fighter's repertoire. The Sixaxis/Dual Shock 3 has a recessed D pad that doesn't offer enough surface area for the thumb, and the Xbox 360 controller's D pad performance is so poor that the Internet explodes whenever rumors about an improved D pad surface.

The good news for fighting game fans is that peripheral manufacturers have prepared new premium console arcade sticks to coincide with the launch of Street Fighter IV on the consoles. Japanese manufacturer Hori has brought its popular Real Arcade Pro joystick line to the PS3 and Xbox 360, and longtime peripheral manufacturer Mad Catz has entered the market with two Street Fighter IV FightSticks that have the potential to upgrade how gamers view the Mad Catz brand.

We got our hands on the Hori Real Arcade Pro EX and the two Mad Catz FightSticks for some Street Fighter IV testing. We also pulled out our Hori Fighting Stick EX2 to see how the now-classic controller compares to the new sticks.

Mad Catz Street Fighter IV FightStick Tournament Edition

Price:
$149.99
Platform(s):
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Rating:
Mad Catz Street Fighter IV Fight Stick Tournament Edition (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

This official Street Fighter IV joystick is the closest you can get to the arcade experience without importing a Japanese cabinet and setting it up in your living room. Mad Catz has not only utilized the exact same Sanwa joystick and button hardware used in Street Fighter IV arcade machines, but it has also recognized that you may want to modify the stick even further. The stick internals are easy to access, but Mad Catz warns that the product warranty goes poof as soon as you take an Allen wrench to the case, so make sure that you know what you're doing before you start modding. Inside you'll find a universal mounting plate in case you want to swap out the joystick, and you'll find labeled, color-coded pin-outs for all of the buttons for easy replacement.

In addition to the authentic Sanwa button and joystick hardware, Mad Catz threw in a lot of other really nice features that help to make the controller even more special. The stick can be toggled to function as the left or right thumbsticks or as the controller D pad. The start, select, and PS/Xbox guide buttons sit out of the way in the top left corner, and the control panel also has a lock switch that disables the administrative buttons during combat. The control panel lets you enable two turbo speeds for individual face buttons. The stick also has a small compartment built into the back of the case to store the cable when you need to take the stick on the road. You can even remove the rubber pads underneath the controller and bolt it down using the predrilled holes if you want to build a serious stand for the stick.

When put to a field test, the FightStick TE worked as advertised. The Sanwa hardware responded exactly as you would expect it to, and we were uppercutting tigers and pulling off spinning pile-drivers with no problem. None of the game's special moves were particularly difficult to pull off with the Sanwa joystick, and the extra-sensitive buttons made it easy to start up Chun-Li's hyakuretsukyaku lightning kicks and E. Honda's hundred hand slap. The two extra buttons at the end gave us some problems--they're set to mirror the functionality of all three punch or kick buttons by default in case you're unable (or too lazy) to hit the three buttons the old-fashioned way, but our testers accidentally hit the bonus buttons more than a few times in-game. Disabling the buttons through the game menu proved to be a quick fix, but we're sure players can adjust to the extra buttons given enough practice time. The Street Fighter IV FightStick Tournament Edition is a faithful companion that will ward off hadoukens throughout the Third World Warrior Tournament and beyond.


Hori Real Arcade Pro EX

Price:
$129.99
Platform(s):
Xbox 360
Rating:
Hori Real Arcade Pro EX (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

The Hori Real Arcade Pro EX is roughly the same size as the FightStick Tournament Edition and shares many other similarities. The Hori stick comes equipped with an authentic Sanwa joystick for exceptionally precise handling and arcade-style buttons with an eight-button layout—albeit slightly more splayed than the FightStick TE. One big difference is that the button hardware comes straight from Hori.

The case features a raised headset plug and an Xbox guide button near the joystick, and back and start buttons above the eight-button layout—though the headset plug placement is a bit odd, Hori thoughtfully included ties to make sure your cable doesn't get in the way. The button assignments lead off with the left and right triggers, which makes navigating around the menus difficult to get used to—but they shouldn't affect your ability to fight, because you can reassign buttons from within the game menu.

These quirks aside, the Hori Real Arcade Pro EX is an excellent competitive-level arcade stick. While you don't get bonuses like turbo settings or the ability to assign the functionality of the stick between the thumbsticks and the D pad, the stick positively shines in combat. The buttons didn't feel as sensitive as the Sanwa buttons used in the FightStick TE, but they didn't give us any problems and they emulated the arcade experience fairly well. The less-sensitive buttons meant that we had to press down a little bit further to get the taps to register, but we didn't have any problems after we got used to them. We were able to perform many complicated moves, like Vega's bloody high claw ultra, instantaneously without a hitch. Bottom line: If you're looking for a high-quality joystick, look no further. At $129.99, it's a bit of a hit to the wallet, but it's still more affordable (and perhaps more available) than Mad Catz's comparable stick. And if you've got a PlayStation 3, don't feel left out--Hori makes a comparable controller called the Real Arcade Pro 3.

Hori Fighting Stick EX2

Price:
$59.99
Platform(s):
Xbox 360
Rating:
Hori Fighting Stick EX2 (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

The Hori Fighting Stick EX2 is the oldest and least expensive stick to be tested as part of this feature, but we wanted to include it because it's still a major powerhouse that continues the Hori tradition of quality hardware. The EX2 features a six-button layout designed to match Japanese arcades in terms of spacing and button size. We don't know if the Hori-manufactured 30mm buttons are the same type used in the more expensive Real Arcade Pro EX, but they feel and perform just as well. The joystick, also made by Hori, feels responsive and accurate.

The Fighting Stick EX has a slightly unconventional button layout like its RAP cousin. Though the A button is where you would expect it to be, the B, X, and Y buttons are arranged along the top row. This layout is not quite as difficult to get used to as the Real Arcade Pro EX's layout, but it can still make navigating through menus a bit tricky at times. We did, however, enjoy having just six buttons in the business area, which eliminated sloppy 8-button mistakes and provided a more accurate arcade experience. The stick still has the bumper buttons, but they've been moved next to the back, start, and Xbox Guide control panel buttons, where they are accessible but not too easy to accidentally hit.

The Fighting Stick EX is more portable than the other sticks in our comparison thanks to a smaller, more compact case, but it may take a bit of time to get used to, because there isn't an abundance of real estate to rest your hands on. The controls are still excellent, and the joystick turned out to be one of our favorites after we got used to the smaller case. Special moves that require frequent button presses like Blanka's electric thunder don't require you to smash down too hard, preserving controller longevity and giving you a higher degree of control, and we executed complex attacks like the spinning pile-driver and shoryuken without any trouble.

Overall, the Hori Fighting Stick EX is an excellent joystick with accurate controls and an affordable price. If you're looking for a great stick to start off your tournament career, you can't go wrong with this one. PS3 owners can look to the Hori Fighting Stick 3 for a similar controller built for their platform.


Mad Catz Street Fighter IV FightStick

Price:
$69.99 (PS3), $79.99 (X360)
Platform(s):
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Rating:
Mad Catz Street Fighter IV Fight Stick (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

The Mad Catz FightStick crams many of the extra features of its rarer and more expensive brother into a smaller case, but the designers had to make a few sacrifices to reach the more affordable price point. The stick uses the same square-gate ball joystick and eight-button layout design as the more expensive Tournament Edition FightStick. What the standard edition stick doesn't include, however, are the authentic Sanwa hardware pieces, opting instead to go for Mad Catz joystick and buttons.

The standard stick comes with many of the bells and whistles featured on the Tournament Edition including individual-button turbo settings, stick assignment toggling, and the handy out-of-the-way placement of the start, select, and PS/Xbox guide buttons to keep you from accidentally mashing one of them during a critical fight. Perhaps the best news about the controller is that it's just as easy to mod as the FightStick TE. If you want to swap out the buttons or the joystick, you'll be happy to know that it features the same button labels, quick-connect cables and universal mounting plate for the joystick.

The controls work quite well, but they were the least responsive components we encountered when compared to the other sticks we tested. That's not to say this isn't a good controller; it just requires more practice to get used to its quirks, which are compounded by the smaller size of the case--which offers less room to rest your hands on, like the case for the Hori Fighting Stick EX--and the extra two buttons off in no-man's-land on the far right. During testing, even simple moves like the hadoken and tatsumaki senpukyaku were hit or miss until we became accustomed to the stick, but we never became totally confident while attempting supers and ultras.

The Mad Catz FightStick is probably the best arcade-style joystick that you're going to find in an average retail store, and it's a good investment if you're looking for a full-featured controller. Serious players should look at the stick because of its enormous modding potential. If exceptional hardware precision is what you're after though, you may want to consider upgrading to the Tournament Edition.

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Discussion

260 comments
LazyNutta
LazyNutta

Mad Catz PS3 Street Fighter IV Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition Round 1

2 Sticks being sold but to UK only both brand new condition one is unused and inorginal conditon and one has been upgrade with.
Sanwa GT-Y Octagonal Restrictor Plate
Sanwa Bat Top Handle
LS-33 Joystick Spring
LS-56 Joystick Spring
Sanwa Joystick LB-30N Thread Adapter
Sanwa Snap-in Mix N Match Pushbuttons - OBSF-30

Here are the links 

Original-
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/121050511479?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

Upgraded -
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/121050520121?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

wooooode
wooooode

Just picked up the PS3 Rd. 1 TE fightstick form a EB games for $59.99. Not sure if it was a sale to get rid of it(the only one in store) or if it was miss prised for the standard fightstick.

VincentVega94
VincentVega94

Hey Gamespot, you should highlight/revisit this feature for the upcoming release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

Uesugi-dono
Uesugi-dono

I bought 3 of those sucky fightpads. All three got repaired by Madcatz, all three continue to fail. This company has almost singlehandedly ruined SFIV for me.

GarySpot
GarySpot

do you have a list of games other than street fighter 4 that supports all these arcade sticks?

BeckMall
BeckMall

i want this arcade sticks so bad,ill have to buy the stick and the game at the same time. but wtf? $130

jinjak
jinjak

i thing it"s not fun too play wath stick

Mercenary19
Mercenary19

Just letting ppl know, Arcadeshock.com is taking Pre-orders as of March 10th for the Hori Real Arcade Pro EX at regular MSRP ($130) Shipping date is said to be July 2009.

dread65
dread65

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

BreakerTMG
BreakerTMG

yeah these are good.........IF YOU CAN EVER FIND THEM!!!! MadCatz is just handling this so terribly that I have to resort to buying the SCIV stick. They should have anticipated demand and put enough units out for everyone to buy at launch but no, they put out a limited amount and now we have ebayers jacking up the price for people who want one.

Mercenary19
Mercenary19

Jeez, you're actually going to wait 6-9 weeks for that. I would rip my hair out waiting that long.

static_240
static_240

What! no love for that X-Arcade stick? Lol i kid i kid, im getting an arcadeinabox though full sanwa with an octo gate hope it arrives early may though 6-9 week wait time >.>

Mercenary19
Mercenary19

I don't think cost is the only problem. Availability is the other problem. Even fight pads are sold out. If they are in stock, it is usually from mysterious sites that either have no reviews or bad reviews. I'd rather wait than take the chance and be scammed. But the lack of availability is ridiculous. I think I'm going to hit the stickies at shoryuken.com, learn how to connect wires, and make my own joystick. Because by the time I am done doing that the joysticks will still be out of stock.

Basket420
Basket420

If you cant afford (or find) a fight stick, BUY A FIGHT PAD!!!!! The D-Pad is billions of times better than the damned 360 controller and the 6 button layout is awesome. you really have to push down on the diagonals but it makes it so you don't jump by mistake at the end of a combo... BUY ONE, you wont be sorry...

def_mode
def_mode

looks good but i dont plan on spending money on that.

TheArcade
TheArcade

Don't the Fightsticks have a failure rate? Does MadCatz cover the shipping costs if it breaks and do they come with insurance? Those Sticks are expensive!

AtheistPreacher
AtheistPreacher

For anybody curious about the fightpad... I really like it. Pad is responsive/comfy, button layout is good. The pad is a big switch from the PS3's pad though, so it just takes a little getting used to. I also sorta wish the start button was a touch bigger, but oh well.

Insurrection4
Insurrection4

It is true what they said about the SF4 Fightstick not being consistant on the easy attacks. Some times you'll pull one off and then all of a sudden you can't. It's like trying to use the Xbox 360 controller. Since the TE is too expensive right now, I think I'm going to track down the Fightpad. It can't hurt to try one out.

Papi-Pop
Papi-Pop

Buy the Way I hear that if you Mod the SF3 Anniversary Fighting stick it's REALY GOOD to have !

Papi-Pop
Papi-Pop

OK here is my take on this! (if anyone cares....) I have the X-Arcade, The 1st Street Fighter Tournament Edition fighting stick, And now that SF4 came out I have the Mad Catz D-pad. 1st the SF Tournament was cool love it BUT it had this problem of freezing/ interrupting if i made an aggressive move on it (slightly lifting it off the table or floor) had to restart it by unpluged it from the console. Next i went out and got the X-Arcade Dual (no track ball) like they say "BUILT LIKE A TANK" is true! had do buy an adapter for the console you owned. PS2 for me. only complaint it did tis lil "ghost" movement when i had both player 1& 2 pluged in. for Example: if i did not make a move or touch it for about 5 sec. it would make the charecter "jump" or "crouch"! it didn't seem to interfear with my game play that i noticed. And now I own the new MaD Catz D-pad!. So far So Good! but as someone stated before..... "It is made from Mad Catz!" for the record i only owned two products from Mad Catz they seem to do what they need to. ( no BS )but my friends did not like the fell of it of this controller. most of them prefer the standard controller OR the 1st SF3 anniversary 6 button D-pad. Because of the price of the fighting sticks at the moment i can't buy one but i DID get an PS2 to PS3 adaptor for my X-Arcade stick! :)

Alizerothree
Alizerothree

Any news on when a new batch of either of these stick will come out? I'm waiting for the arcadeinabox stick and would like a 2nd stick for local battles :)

blackend514
blackend514

the gamepad is a pretty solid choice. After a little bit of practice you can pull of every move without a sweat. If you can't track down a joystick, then this is the next best thing

Hayabashi
Hayabashi

Any news on how good the Gamepad is? The review on that wasn't too good. I was wondering if I should spend my return on two of those or just get the tournament edition stick when it is released.

etcetcetc
etcetcetc

I can input every single characters specials, supers and ultras with ease using just a ps3 controller...what is the point of these arcade sticks? Also check out the eventhub website, it explains how to do every characters moves nice and easy.

hectadectagon
hectadectagon

Raises hand for Aussies, I have the Hori SC4 US stick from playasia for 360. Works without issue, from what I've read they used different parts eg stick and buttons in the JPN and US sticks but they not be the case these days. Yet to find a local distributor for the Mad-as-catz gear so importing looks the only option. If you go the Standard FightStick (like you have an option, 3000 TE made.. disappointing but I understand) the Sanwa parts that are in the TE can be purchased and installed with relative ease. I don't think you have to be hardcore or oldschool to enjoy the arcade sticks. The controller just uses mapped buttons for things like grab (lp+lk) because we only have 1 thumb and 4 fingers, either way as long as you enjoy the game.

BongSabre
BongSabre

These sticks are mainly for the hardcore/old school arcade rats that would spend most of their teenage lives in quarter matches. You can play this game with the standard controller just fine, the sticks just make it easier for the old school to slip back into the groove.

Alizerothree
Alizerothree

If anyone is serious about an arcade stick, check out www.arcadeinabox.com

Hayabashi
Hayabashi

I so wish I had the money for any of these. I need a second job for like 3 weeks so I can get one. Then quit that job lol

beardrewz
beardrewz

good question fellow Aussie...would the controllers be region locked for Australia if a US version/Japanese?

jmesh
jmesh

This might sound stupid, but are hardware/accessories that come from USA/Japan region locked? Im an Australian with a 360 and i can only find "compatible" sticks (like the ones mentioned) for NTSC markets....I cant seem to find them in the UK either....Any info would be great....

coolguy681
coolguy681

I got to get the mad katz tournament arcade stick before I buy this game.

Little_Socrates
Little_Socrates

I'm sorry, but if the game is unplayable without one of these sticks, then it might be a long time before I put any money into this game.

tonicmole
tonicmole

Hori's DOA 4 Arcade stick is basicaly Ex 2 with a picture of Kokoro on it, but works amazingly well. I got mine for $40 bucks I think a year or two ago.

misterstatus
misterstatus

Well, I received an email today from the Amazon.com seller that I placed an order from for the Hori Real Arcade Pro EX (before the prices skyrocketed). Apparently they've "unexpectedly sold out" of the sticks and won't be shipping my order. So now I've placed an order from some company called Play-Asia. They're asking $149.90 for it, which is still a lot cheaper than the sellers on Amazon.com ($300). Even the cheaper Mad Catz stick, with a MSRP of $79.99, is selling for $200 on Amazon.

Furluge
Furluge

And as I read this article I could almost weep at how the X-Arcade, the king of arcade sticks, is being kept out of the game because of Microsoft's strong restrictions on third-party software.

airboygt
airboygt

Managed to get a Saturn-style pad 2 weeks before SFIV shipped, go thing too because a day later they all "disappeared" from Gamestops website. Joysticks like the ones above are cool, but give me a "Saturn-Pad" any day, it just feel more natural to me sitting at home instead of the arcade. The "Saturn-Pad" is a good alternative and great backup to the joystick, if you can find them without getting price-gouged, *sheesh* supply & demand at its finest.

misterstatus
misterstatus

Has anyone else noticed the price gouging going on at Amazon for these fighter sticks? Two sellers are now asking $300 for the Hori Real Arcade Pro EX (suggested price $129.99). One seller even has the older EX 2 listed for $199.99 (suggested price $59.99). I ordered the Hori Pro EX from a seller asking $116 but it hasn't shipped yet. I have a feeling they'll be cancelling the order on me and telling me to re-order it for $300, which I sure won't be doing.

X_CAPCOM_X
X_CAPCOM_X

Lol @ "Don't feel left out, PS3 users." HRAP 1,2 and 3 and the various special editions were only on Playstation consoles. In fact, there is a version of the HRAP 3 with all Sanwa parts available and it's cheaper than the HRAP EX. EX came is based off of these versions of the RAP. What are you trying to say here?

DeltaCobra
DeltaCobra

I bought the tank. For someone who has hit the arcades in timezone, shopping centres, laundry mats, video stores all back in the day when NBA JAM and SFII were everything (and MK), this TANK stick my girl bought me is mad. Its strong man. Trust me man. Button layout and everything, I smash it and it acts like it should. No rattles or bitshing. SFIV is the best fighting game I have ever played. Before voting for me, im an SFIV freak so please consider! Get a Tank.

microtyrone
microtyrone

i think i will have to pick up a street fighter joystick. because i know im going to were out my controllers lol.

dannyaq
dannyaq

there is one thing i don't get. fighting games (or at least the kind you would want to buy a stick for) always let you customize the controls. so why use all these funky button layouts making them useless for other games where you actually need the left bumper or trigger to be to the left of the right buttons or whatever. I'm not going to by street fighter, but i would have considered buying the controller with the big fat d-pad for some of my dpad arcade games and so that i might actually be able to play a tony hawk game on the 360. But the button assignments are horrible. putting left bumper and left trigger on both the bumper buttons? what kind of sense does that make? putting the right buttons to the left of the left buttons? i'm sure it makes sense with the default street fighter button layout, but the game has customizable controls, they should make the right bumper button assigned to right bumper, that way the controller is not only a good street fighter controller, but a good controller, period. games like mortal kombat 3 arcade and lumines need digital directional imput love too.

s3KtOr
s3KtOr

[QUOTE="ferid84"]" Posted Feb 17, 2009 6:25 am PT (hide) couldn't the stupid developers of street fighters use simple directions instead of rotating with a stick to do some stupid moves... I won't pay a cent for those joystick and will throw my copy of the game sooner than I expected."[/QUOTE] Is this your first experience with an actual fighting game?

forest4
forest4

Is the Mad Catz Street Fighter IV FightStick Tournament Edition for the PS3 going to be compatible with the PS2? I hope so!

snarple_basic
snarple_basic

imtiyaz786 the dpad on the xbox 360 is placed totally in a bad spot for fighters. If you played fighting games in the 90's you would understand some of the complaints by some fighting fans. Also I'm going to point out that its easily the worst dpad ever made!! Even when I'm playing Gears of War there are times where I try to switch weapons only to have the dpad pivot off the direction I want to hit to pull up the wrong weapon. Microsoft really needs to give us a new dpad!!!

imtiyaz786
imtiyaz786

you are out of your mind boy! although xbox has a crappy d-pad the controller on a whole is better designed then the ps3 version. The d-pad is not misplaced its placed perfectly OUT OF THE WAY. an analogue stick provides a much more accurate, comfortable and enjoyable experience

elfimis
elfimis

I omitted that person's name from the quote to save him some severe humilitation.

elfimis
elfimis

hahaha, i Want the HORI, i have the madcatz on xbox....not bad, not great. [QUOTE] "Chun-Li wasn't in street fighter, pfft....n00b."[/Quote]

misterstatus
misterstatus

I decided that since I already bought the game, I might as well bite the bullet and pick up a fighter stick, but the guy at EB Games here in Canada told me today that the Mad Catz TE stick has been delayed till mid March, so I ordered the Hori stick from Amazon. Yes, I feel stupid for buying one of these overpriced things, but there's just no enjoyable way to play SF IV with the Xbox 360 gamepad.

sic_digital
sic_digital

I got the Mad Catz FightPad for XBox and it's smooooooooooth! If sticks aren't your thing (or you need a cheaper & easier-to-find option over the OEM controllers) I'd highly recommend this.

Harerazer
Harerazer

Got it launch day and played a few hours. I had trouble pulling out even simple Dragon Punch/Fireball combos. So today I hook up my PS2 Capcom Streetfighter pad (using the USB adaptor which every REAL gamer has) and I roll through Arcade mode with just one continue (on Nacho Cheezy Seth). Do yourselves a favor, get a pad, get a stick, but leave the PS3 controller alone. You can probably find the PS2 Streetfighter pad for less than standard PS3 pad anyway.