When you’re trying to smash your opponents and pull off the ultimate combos, even the best Xbox One and PS4 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. Mayflash F500 Arcade FightStick
Best Arcade Fight Stick
If you want an affordable fight stick controller that that works across all platforms, the Mayflash F500 Fighting Stick is an excellent choice. It has a sturdy base and eight buttons that are designed for smashing.We weren’t joking when we said the Mayflash F500 is compatible with all platforms. You’ll have no trouble playing connecting this arcade stick to a PS4, PS3, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Android, and NeoGeo. The only caveat is you need to have a standard Xbox 360 or Xbox One controller connected to your console while using it with Microsoft’s consoles.
2. Qanba Drone
Best Budget Fight Stick
Fight sticks can be a big and uncertain investment especially for those just dabbling in fighting games. Luckily for you, the Qanba Drone Joystick is a quality controller that only costs $69.For this affordable entry price, you get a solidly built fight stick that feels good to play on. The stick itself can feel a little loose, but it accuracy problems or double-triggering issues. Once you’re ready to move on up to a tighter Sanwa lever you’ll have an easy time of swapping out parts.
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 Real Arcade Pro V Kai
Best PC Fight Stick
Fighting games aren’t just a console affair, the PC community around this genre has also been steadily growing. Microsoft teamed up with Hori to design the Real Arcade Pro V Kai specifically for its console and Windows gaming PCs.This fight stick is a solid and highly-rated choice thanks to its excellent design, sturdy buttons, and excellent joystick ergonomics. It’s available in red, white, and blue and features the company’s acclaimed Hayabusa buttons and joystick for excellent control and a real arcade feel. There’s also a hidden side panel that allows you to customize the controls to your liking as well.
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. Mad Catz Ego
Best Multi-Platform Fight Stick
The fact that our list contains a separate pick for the Xbox and PlayStation should make it clear there’s a divide in controllers. Unfortunately, it’s a fairly deep rift and keeps some of the best controllers and fight sticks from operating on both platforms. Mat Catz solves this with the Mat Catz Ego (read our review). This fight stick isn’t just capable of gaming on Xbox One and PS4 but also on PC and Nintendo Switch as well. The big catch is that pairing is a little weird you have to connect the fight stick to your console and connect that console’s controller to your fight stick.Cross-platform functionality would be enough to make this a strong contender, but it’s also just a great fight stick in its own right. You’ll find an eight-way Sanwa ball-top stick to give you clicky and responsive control in your games. The face buttons come from Sanyo, and they live up to the prestige that the company brings in the arcade space. You can mash away or finesse out combos on this fight stick, and it’ll keep up. And, if you want to customize the feel, Mad Catz has thrown the screwdriver you need to pop the top and get to tinkering.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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 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