When you’re trying to smash your opponents and pull off the ultimate combos, even the best Xbox Series X and PS5 controllers likely won’t do. A fight stick can be your best friend in fighting games. The best fight sticks have trusty joysticks that let you put your whole hand and arm into each movement, not relying on just your thumb to pull off the complex and quick movements of arcade fighting games. A nice ball-top joystick can make the difference between reliably pulling off quarter circles and never figuring out the near-ubiquitous move.
You’ll find a wide variety of fight sticks on the market. A good many are made for serious play with quality mechanical switches and the same Sanwa parts you’d find in an arcade cabinet. Some offer a similar feel but are more affordable. You can even snag models that offer up a bit of RGB lighting to tweak to your liking. We’ll guide you through our top picks so you can find a quality fight stick, whether you want it for casual play or high-level tournaments.
TL;DR – These are the Best Arcade Fight Sticks:
1. Mad Catz Ego
Best Arcade Fight Stick
The Mad Catz Ego (read our review) is a fight stick that’s simply ready. What do we mean by that? It’s a fight stick that breaks through the absurd platform-compatibility divide, stands out with quality parts, and is geared up for gamers to tinker with at their leisure. At $190, it’s even on the cheaper side for a premium fightstick, trimming $10 off the price tag where others would simply settle for $200.
The Mad Catz Ego achieves wide platform support with a special trick. You plug the Mad Catz Ego into your Xbox or PlayStation directly and then plug the respective controller of that platform into the Ego. Given that it can be hard enough to find a good fight stick for some platforms, it’s a serious boon to find one that can work for all of the platforms (PC and Nintendo Switch included). The Mad Catz Ego comes kitted out with Sanyo face buttons and a Sanwa ball-top joystick seated in an eight-way gate. If those quality parts aren’t the flavor you like, the Mad Catz Ego is ready to customize and even comes with the screwdriver you need to open it up.
2. Qanba Drone
Best Budget Fight Stick
Qanba has the fight stick to get you combo-ing without sinking a ton of money into an expensive model. The Qanba Drone comes in at just $80, making it a fair bit more affordable than the $150+ fight sticks that are so prevalent. You’ll still be getting the familiar Taito Viewlix-style layout found on many other models, though Qanba is using its own buttons and ball-top joystick instead of the popular Sanwa parts. However, like many fight sticks, the Qanba Drone can be modded after the fact while providing an affordable starting point.
The Qanba Drone supports X-Input and Direct Input for support of Sony consoles and PC over a USB connection. Making it easier to carry to tournaments and parties, the Qanba Drone includes a storage compartment on the front for the USB cable. If you do take it to a tournament, you’ll also find the Tournament Lock switch handy, preventing you from accidentally getting DQ’d for pausing the game.
3. Razer Atrox
Best Xbox Series X/S Fight Stick
For whatever reason, the Xbox has more or less been left out in the arcade fight stick market in recent years. A lot of the really good options only support PlayStation, and that leaves Xbox gamers with few solid options. Fortunately, Razer has the Atrox fight stick. This is effectively a mirrored version of Razer’s Panthera, which is for PlayStation.
On the Razer Atrox, you’ll find all the controls you need for your favorite fighting games, and they’ll all be clearly mapped. Razer even includes the menu buttons, sneakily hiding on the sides of the box. The Atrox includes quality Sanwa parts, and it even opens up to let you fiddle with the innards, so you can get everything to your liking.
4. Victrix Pro FS
Best PS5 Fight Stick
PlayStation gamers have a real winner on their hands with the Victrix Pro FS (read our review). While there are plenty of hefty fight sticks they could game on, the Victrix Pro FS is a tank. It’s built on sturdy metal chassis that immediately makes it stand out from the crowd, not to mention the purple glow that comes out on each side.
Victrix has built a super-solid fight stick here, and it didn’t stop at that metal frame. You’ll find all quality Sanwa parts here, from the eight front buttons to the stick. The compartment to access components is a bit tight but does provide an open door for tinkering, and it’ll let you quickly stow your joystick when you’re taking this fight stick on the move.
5. Hori Fighting Stick Alpha
Best PC Fight Stick
A lot of the best fight sticks seem to get made for PlayStation, and even though many will still work on PC, it can take a bit of mental gymnastics to press the correct controls on the fight stick when presented with on-screen prompts for Xbox controls in PC games. Fortunately, Hori has introduced the new crème de la crème of fight sticks for Xbox and, by extension, PC.
The Hori Fighting Stick Alpha (read our review) has a sleek and sturdy design, and it comes fitted with top-notch components, namely Hori’s Hayabusa buttons, switches, and lever. The Alpha has an eight-direction joystick and is highly sensitive, letting you get a quick response to your actions. The eight main buttons also have a bit of wiggle room around them, helping ensure they don’t jam up against the sides of their slots and ruin any of your combos. And, if for some reason Hori’s Hayabusa parts just aren’t your cup of tea, the interior of the fight stick is readily accessible, so you can swap out the stock parts with the arcade components of your choice.
6. 8BitDo Arcade Stick
Best Nintendo Switch Fight Stick
Plenty of great fighting games have come over to the Nintendo Switch even though they face the fierce competition of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. If you’re all smashed out and want to enjoy those other fighting games to the fullest, a fight stick can make your experience better and make it easier to control with the precision these games require. 8BitDo has made an excellent arcade stick that’s perfectly at home on the Nintendo Switch.
The 8BitDo Arcade Stick has awesome, retro NES styling. It also has illuminated button labels that show you exactly which Switch controls each button represents, and it can even change to a second set of illuminated button labels for PC controls. The buttons are easy to mash away, and the joystick is satisfactorily clicky. There are even macro buttons and a turbo function. And, let’s not forget that the whole thing works wirelessly with a USB dongle. It also supports USB wired and Bluetooth connections. The 8BitDo Arcade Stick works just as well on PC and mobile as it does on the Switch, letting you get extra value out of the already fairly affordable arcade stick.
7. Hit Box
Ditch the Stick
Don’t like the stick and just want all buttons? The Hit Box has you covered there. This controller replaces the joystick with another set of four buttons designed to work like WASD on a keyboard. With this control scheme, your left fingers rest over left, right, and down and then you can trigger up with your thumb.
It’s an interesting controller layout for sure, but it essentially gives you the precision of a D-Pad, but ergonomically arranged for fighting games. Best of all the Hit Box uses 100% authentic Sanwa Buttons so you know you’re getting the best and most responsive experience out of this controller.
8. Mixbox Universal Edition
Best WASD Fight Stick
Yup, you read that right, the Mixbox Universal Edition is the best WASD fight stick. In a similar way to how the Hit Box replaces the joystick with more buttons, this arcade fight stick supplements its traditional lever input with mechanical keyboard keys. Now, this makes more sense than you might expect as this type of setup gives you an extremely tight grouping of the four directional buttons. This spacing allows you to easily go through the motions of pulling off hadoukens and other special attacks. And since this controller uses Cherry MX red switches you’re pretty much getting the fastest input with its linear action.
The mechanical keyboard aspect aside, this Mixbox controller comes equipped with eight Sanwa Denshi buttons. Also as the universal edition, this arcade fight stick works with the PS3, PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, and even the Wii U if you still have it kicking around.
9. Etokki Omni Arcade Stick
The Korean Fight Stick Option
If you’re looking to stand out or just want a different feeling stick you might be interested in the Etokki Omni Arcade Stick. Rather than using a Japanese Sanwa stick, this controller comes equipped with a Korean Taeyoung Fanta stick for a tighter and more responsive feel. It also features a circular silicon gate that might make hitting the corners easier for you. You also get a full set of Sanwa buttons for punching in combos.
The Etokki Omni is also built like a tank with a full-metal chassis that weighs 7.27 pounds. It’d definitely on the pricey side, but a fight stick that feels this good and is this well made is worth it. Unfortunately, stock appears limited at the moment, but will hopefully come back in short order.
10. Nacon Daija
Best High-End Fight Stick
Nacon has a phenomenal fight stick on its hands with the Daija. This fight stick will work with PS5, PS4 Pro, PS4, and PC, and it has simple controls for managing the inputs when you need more navigation control than a fight stick has by default. As a premium fight stick, the Daija comes with quality Sanwa joystick and buttons. You also get both a get a couple of options for the joystick a ball top and bat top.
While the Daija comes strong to start, you can also customize it to your liking. The lid easily pops open to let you change out components, and a wiring guide will help you ensure you get everything properly connected. You can even customize the style, as the clear face plate is removable, so you can print out your own design and slip it under the face plate.
What to Look for in an Arcade Stick Controller
Finding the right arcade stick controller for you is all about getting the best lever and buttons for your budget.
When it comes to the stick of a fight stick, you pretty much only have the option of going with either a Japanese- or Korean-made parts. Sanwa is going to be the most prevalent name you hear while shopping for a controller in this segment. It’s a Japanese company that produces arcade buttons and sticks, the latter of which features square gate and mild resistance.
Comparatively, Taeyoung Fanta and other Korean-made fight sticks usually come sporting a circle-shaped gate and rubber grommet. You’ll want this type of stick if you want a lever that springs back to neutral after every motion.
Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam
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