Beginner's Buyer's Guide to Arcade Sticks for Street Fighter V

I’m sure that after this year’s Capcom Cup, and after the announcement of Madcatz’s new stick offerings, many players may now be looking into purchasing an arcade stick for Street Fighter V in February. For people who have no idea where to start and might have a few questions on what kind of stick to get, hopefully this guide will help out a bit. Before selecting a stick, here are a few things to note:

An arcade stick is recommended, but not required: People have their own preferences and some may just not like an arcade stick. While I would recommend taking the time to see if it works for you, which would mean playing with one for several weeks, it’s possible to end up not liking it. The majority of the competitive community uses arcade sticks, but at the same time a few of the best players in the world use regular controllers, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Set aside the budget for a tournament grade stick: This is hard for a lot of people because if you’ve never become proficient with an arcade stick, you’re taking big gamble by spending a lot of money on something you might not like. Though just like the difference between a first party controller and a $20 third-party alternative, it is often worth it to spend more. Tournament grade sticks have good parts, construction, and features that make them worth the money. It is also easier to mod them with new parts should you want to do so. Unless you found a great deal, you’re looking at spending at spending at least $100, though more likely somewhere between $150-$200 for one of the good current stick offerings.

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You can use an older stick if playing at home, but need a PS4 stick if going to tournaments: One way to save money is by buying an older 360/PS3 stick which will work if you’re playing SFV on PC. If you’re playing on PS4, you might have some luck using a Brook converter (http://www.brookaccessory.com/Super%20Conver…) with your stick to get it to work on PS4. I’ve not used the converters myself so I can’t heavily recommend them, but I have at least heard good things. As for which to get, the community has a made a list of which older sticks to buy and which to avoid (). However, if you think you might at some point want to test out your skills at tournaments, you should get a PS4 stick as there are some tournaments that ban the use of converters and a PS4 stick is your best assurance against having that issue.

With that out of the way, here are the current PS4 sticks (that I’m aware of) and my thoughts on their pros and cons:

Madcatz Street Fighter V Fightstick Alpha ($80): This will not be out until February so I can’t review it yet, but since it’s an entry level stick it’s not one I would heavily recommend. It likely won’t be bad but will lack a lot of the nice features from a tournament grade stick. Should probably only go for this if you’re on a tight budget.

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  • Reasons to choose this: Cheap, compact, and lightweight.
  • Reasons to not choose this: Too cheap, too small, and too light.

Hori Real Arcade Pro 4 ($150): Now that we’re getting into tournament grade stick territory, which stick you should get is really just based around preference as they are all good options. This is the cheapest tournament grade stick for PS4 but still feels very nice and sturdy. This does not use Sanwa parts like most tournament grade sticks but instead uses Hori’s own parts which are equivalent in performance. Many Japanese arcades use these same parts.

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  • Reasons to choose this: Cheapest tournament grade option. Fairly light so it’s easy to carry around.
  • Reasons to not get this: Start button placement is easy to accidentally hit. Might be too light those who prefer heavier sticks.
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Madcatz Tournament Edition S+ ($200): This stick may not be out yet, but it should be similar to Madcatz’s previous TES sticks. This a great stick with a simple form factor and decent weight that gives it a dense and sturdy feeling. The TES line of sticks have been a favorite for years so you can’t really go wrong with them, it’s return actually came around due to community demand.

  • Reasons to choose this: A hefty and sturdy feeling stick from a line that has been around and favored for years.
  • Reasons to not choose this: Lacks some features from the TE2. Fairly expensive.

Madcatz Tournament Edition 2(+) ($200-230): This is Madcatz’s latest line of tournament sticks and has introduced a lot of new features. The current TE2 is available for $200 while the TE2+ will be out in February for $230 which adds a touchpad button not present in the TE2. The top panel easily pops open at the press of a button which easily allows modders to swap out parts, and the top plexiglass and panel are also easily removed which lets you easily change the artwork. It’s got some good weight and nice features, but that comes at a cost. Some players have complained that the case makes a “creaking” sound when weight is applied on it, this is likely due to the new case design accommodating the new features. The cable is a big annoyance as well, unlike other comparable sticks you cannot just stick the cable away in a compartment, rather you have to unscrew it to store it internally and screw it back on when ready for use.

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  • Reasons to choose this: Easy to mod. Spacious internal compartment. Lots of nice features. Good weight.
  • Reasons to not choose this: Fairly expensive. Case doesn’t feel as sturdy as other sticks. Annoying that cable cannot be stored away without unscrewing.
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Hopefully you now have a good starting point for choosing which arcade stick to buy. Keep in mind that arcade sticks will start selling a lot more as Street Fighter V approaches so get your orders/preorders in before shipments sell out!

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