Before home consoles took over the world, arcades were the place to be for the ultimate gaming experience. To play these coin-operated systems, you didn’t use a gamepad. Instead, the arcade stick was the control layout of choice. Today you can have the same arcade controller experience in your own home by purchasing a USB arcade stick.
What is an Arcade USB key?
Although there are a few variations, modern arcade sticks have much the same basic design.
There’s the stick itself, which consists of a rod with a ball at the end. Although there are different gripping styles, the most common is to grip the ball between the base of the middle and ring fingers, palm up.
The buttons on a USB arcade stick are large and are usually arranged in two rows of four. Your four fingers (index to pinky) can rest in any row and alternate between them.
There may be additional buttons, such as Start or Select, but the design of the lever and the eight buttons is the basis of the product design.
Some games are just better with an arcade stick
The main reason most people buy arcade sticks is to play 2D fighting games. Examples include the Street Fighter series and the BlazBlue franchise. While these games can undoubtedly be played with a standard gamepad, anyone who wants to play competitively ends up switching to an arcade controller. There is such everyday use of these sticks that they are often referred to as “arcade fighting sticks”, but of course you can use arcade sticks for any type of game.
There is also a thriving arcade emulation community, especially on PC. It is possible to use an arcade emulator application like MAME to play the original arcade ROMs. Arcade sticks can also be used for home arcade cabinets, on old computers or repurposed devices like the Raspberry pi. Even if you’re not interested in emulation, this is the golden age of retro game releases, so you can find arcade collections on all major consoles.
arcade stick designs
Although there is a basic design for sticks like these, different manufacturers use different designs. Some are meant to be played from the couch like a controller. Others are intended for tables, with the player standing. Your stick can be weighted for stability during intense play, or it can be lightweight and easily portable. There are many variations within the category, so it’s worth thinking about how and where you want to play.
2 player arcade sticks
Most gamers are probably looking to play solo, but if you want a local 2-player arcade experience (or want to build a 2-player arcade), it’s worth mentioning that you can purchase sticks 2 player arcade game. . The main advantage of these is that both players use the exact same clubs, so there is no unfair advantage for anyone. It’s also a bit cheaper than buying two separate clubs.
There is always a debate within the arcade stick community as to which sticks are the best, but one thing that everyone can agree on is that the quality of the components is important. You’re going to be pretty rough around the fretboard and buttons, so it’s essential that the internal switches hold up to the wear and tear of intense gaming.
In arcade sticks, components made by Sanwa are considered the gold standard, with sticks using genuine Sanwa parts costing more. However, that doesn’t mean parts from other brands can’t be great too.
What about wireless arcade sticks?
You have the option of using a wireless arcade stick instead of a wired USB model. For most casual gamers this should be fine, but if you aspire to play competitively the extra latency that can occur with Bluetooth could be an issue. In fighting games, where players count individual animation frames, a wired controller can be the difference between victory and defeat. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the battery running out at a crucial moment!
Great arcade sticks you can buy
Now that we’re all on the same page about arcade sticks and why they’re so great, let’s look at some great examples you might want to consider.
Mad Catz The Real EGO
Mad Catz has a somewhat mixed history with its control products. Some are highly respected and others have been ambitious failures. However, no one can deny that they have always been an essential presence in the controller market. This “The Authentic Ego” controller starts off strong by offering “tournament grade” Sanwa components in both the stick and buttons. Not bad, considering the competitive price. However, since it has a turbo kick feature, you probably won’t be allowed to play in real tournaments with it.
You can use this stick on a desk or on your lap as it has a metal base and non-slip foam. The sticker is customizable and has a nifty lock feature, so you don’t accidentally hit the pause button when things get hectic. Add to that its wide compatibility with consoles and PCs, and we’ve got a great all-around device suitable for just about anyone.
HORI Switch Mini Fight Stick
Although this little stick is officially marketed as a Switch controller, it also works with PCs. So you should have no problem using it with PC-based emulators or native arcade-style PC games. As for the Switch, it houses a plethora of arcade game ports, so you won’t run out of games to play with this compact device.
The best part about the Mini is that you can put it in a bag and take it with you. It’s also easy to store it somewhere when you don’t need it. Most arcade sticks are huge, so the Mini might be the way to go if space is an issue.
Qanba is known for its high-end sticks, like the Qanba Dragon, but they are also middling budget arcade sticks. Sony licenses this drone, so it works with Playstation 4 and 3 and PC.
Although the drone is not as compact as the HORI Mini, it is designed for portability. For example, it has a handy compartment for the USB cable to avoid tangles in your bag.
Although relatively compact, the stick and buttons are full size. There is also the obligatory lock button to avoid accidentally pressing system buttons during gameplay. In a nice touch, Qanba has spaced out the drone design to exactly match the Japanese arcade standard to add a nice authenticity.
Second turn. To fight!
Whether you love mastering Street Fighter or just want to relive those NEOGEO classics the right way, an arcade stick is the best way to go. It’s as good as the arcade days we all fondly remember, minus the smell of stale beer, cigarette smoke and the need for fries.