The best fight sticks

Enhance your fighting game experience with a quality fight stick controller

Best fight stick

by Kyle Purves |
Updated on

If you're aiming to bring your A-game and get the most out of your fighting game experience, then you'll want to pick up a fight stick. Sometimes called arcade sticks, these nifty alternative controllers mimic the button and joystick layout of an old arcade machine.

Fans of retro games and older genres like "shoot 'em ups" and "beat 'em ups" will get a lot of mileage out of these controllers, but fighting games definitely benefit the most. Since so much of the gameplay relays on precise and often intricate button and stick combinations, the clear and distinctive layout of a fight stick makes it much easier and more consistent to perform well when using one.

The best fight sticks at a glance:

Best overall fight stick: HORI PS5 Fighting Stick - View offer on Amazon UK
Best customisable fight stick: Hori SERIES X Fighting Stick - View offer on Amazon UK
Best fight stick for beginners: MAYFLASH Universal Arcade Stick - View offer on Amazon UK
Best wireless arcade stick: 8Bitdo Arcade Stick - View offer on Amazon

With so many high-profile fighting games entering their next generation, from Street Fighter to Tekken, now is the perfect time to swap over to using a fight stick. Whatever your choice of game, and whether you favour deep customisation options or prefer portability, there is absolutely a fight stick that will suit your needs.

We've considered factors like customisation and build quality as we've searched for our favourite fight sticks, so you can read on and find which one is best for you.

Best overall fight stick

HORI PS5 Fighting Stick
Price: $199.99
Alternative retailers
Walmart$191.09View offer
Best Buy$199.99View offer

The natural choice for any PS5 gamer, this Hori fight stick is a fantastic bit of kit. You can use the dedicated app to precisely customise your settings, and there's even a tournament mode button that disables any inputs that would lead to accidental disqualification. The overall build is lightweight but remains durable, and thanks to the removable top panel, you can slot artwork in as well.

Although we're big fans of the size and shape of this fight stick, it is lacking in one area: cable storage. The cable is not detachable, meaning you need to take extra care of it to ensure it never gets damaged.

Pros

  • Fantastic customisation
  • Lightweight yet durable

Cons

  • Cable is a bit awkward to store

Best customisable fight stick

Hori SERIES X Fighting Stick
Price: $193.53
Alternative retailers
Walmart$193.53View offer
Target$193.99View offer
Best Buy$199.99View offer

If the customisation options of the prior pick take your fancy, then you'll likely enjoy the Hori Series X. The app and removable top panel remain, and now it's even easier to assign buttons to your preference. A brilliant stick for Xbox and PC fighting game enthusiasts, the options for multiple profile settings that you can switch between is a blessing for those who often hop between games.

The stick is highly responsive, so you should have no trouble getting those dreaded Z-inputs down now, but we do want to note that both it and the buttons can be a bit noisy.

Pros

  • Profile settings make swapping game setups seamless
  • Responsive joystick

Cons

  • Can be a bit loud and clacky

Best fight stick for beginners

MAYFLASH Universal Arcade Stick

Rrp: $89.99

Price: $84.99
Alternative retailers
Walmart$84.95View offer

Fighting games can be difficult to get into, but the Mayflash Universal Arcade stick has your back. It's got great compatibility, is super simple to set up with any console or PC, and is reasonably portable enough for you to take it to your local tournaments. Sure, there are much better options for joystick tech, but that's only noticeable when you've gone through a handful of arcade sticks already. Plus, whereas the stick is just okay, the buttons are surprisingly responsive and high-quality for the price.

We also want to note that this fight stick has a dedicated USB cabinet, which is a much-appreciated addition.

Pros

  • Brilliant buttons
  • Handy USB cabinet

Cons

  • There are better stick options out there

Best wireless arcade stick

8Bitdo Arcade Stick
Price: $89.99
Alternative retailers
Best Buy$89.99View offer

The first thing we love about this 8Bitdo Arcade stick is the obvious design inspiration. Mimicking such an iconic controller, you can imagine that this stick is perfect for many arcade-style classics, and you'd be right. In fact, unlike an old-school Nintendo controller, this arcade stick is actually really comfortable to hold, so you can lab out combos in training mode without feeling any strain.

A surprising benefit of the 8Bitdo is that it has (optional) wireless connectivity, and a stable one at that. While you'll probably want to stick to ever-reliable wires for tournaments, this is a lovely addition to further enhance your comfort when casually fighting or going through an arcade classic.

Pros

  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Comfortable to use

Cons

  • Buttons could be more secure

Best portable arcade stick

HORI Fighting Stick Mini

Rrp: $49.99

Price: $44.99
Alternative retailers
Target$44.99View offer
Walmart$44.99View offer

The Nintendo Switch's portability is one of its greatest strengths, and the Hori Fighting Stick Mini is the perfect portable companion to go along with it. The smaller frame does make it a little less comfortable for long play sessions, but we think that's a worthwhile trade-off. This is an especially budget-friendly fight stick too, so it's worth considering if you want to try a stick, but the other prices are daunting.

Considering the Switch's array of retro experiences on offer, this stick is right at home in the hands of anyone wanting to get nostalgic and relive some classics.

Pros

  • Amazing value
  • Durable build

Cons

  • Switch needs to be docked

FAQs

Is an arcade stick worth it?

This comes down to your choice of games. As you can tell, we think they're a fantastic addition to go along with any fighting game, but if you only play the occasional one, you may not get as much use out of it. Arcade-style and retro games pair excellently, but if you primarily play recent AAA titles, using an arcade or fight stick would just make things way more difficult.

We do heavily recommend opting for a fight stick if you want to get into the competitive scene of your chosen fighting game, especially if you favour combo-centric characters.

Fight stick vs controller?

Using a controller is perfectly fine for any arcade or fighting game, but the reason you may want to lean towards a fight stick is due to the joystick gates.

Using a modern controller, you've likely noticed that the analogue stick registers inputs in all directions. This is obviously way better for free-roaming 3D titles, but it can make the precision inputs required for throwing out a Hadoken a bit unreliable. Arcade sticks tend to be 8-gate, meaning they register each input as one of the eight main directions. As such, it's a lot easier to throw out a quick quarter-circle forward and know that it's definitely going to come out accurately, and not as another move.

Kyle Purves is a Commercial Content Writer for What’s The Best, with an avid interest in all things gaming and tech.

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