Those who are used to arcade machines know the feeling of playing fighting games with a pad. It is too small, too light and does not give you the ability to maneuver your character the way arcade machines do.
Luckily, newer consoles like Playstation 4 and Xbox One, including PC allow the use of fightsticks, which mimic the comfort and ease of use of arcade machines… right on your tabletop or lap!
There are lots of fightsticks you can use for every type of budget. With fightsticks, prices usually denote the quality of the gadget, as well as how it lasts, since fighting games are usually high adrenaline and players bang their controllers a bit harder than with other games.
Prices of fightsticks usually range from $50 to $100, Under $200, Under $300 and there are high end fightsticks that cost $300-$500.
I play a lot of Street Fighter V, Tekken 7 and Mortal Kombat 11 and have gone through some fightsticks. Here are my choices for fightsticks under $100.
Qanba Drone Joystick
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Qanba Drone is probably the best fightstick under $100 there is. Qanba is a leading brand when it comes to manufacturing gaming controllers and you cannot go wrong with Qanba. This fightstick not only looks really nice (I mean, look at the super cool yellow, honey comb-esque design) but also responds well and on time, which is perfect for fighting games where split-second timing matters a lot. The stick also has the turbo and share buttons functionality.
The downside of this stick is its small and light frame, making it hard to manage for many heavy-handed players. With that said, even though Quanba Drone is tiny and light, you will be able to enjoy this fightstick for quite a long time, users reported this stick can last up to two years.
Mayflash F300 Arcade Fight Stick
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Mayflash F300 is one of the cheapest among the list that is quality and will last long-ish (around a year of consistent play and abuse). At fifty dollars, you can play your favorite fighting games without spending a ton of money. This is great for those who are starting at fighting games and unsure if they want to pursue it and don’t want to be too committal money-wise.
The downside of this fightstick is that it is too light and is quite hard to play on your lap. You can remedy this by adding suction cups to the bottom and attaching them to weight or onto a glass table. This stick controller needs you to have access to a PS4 controller and wire or a Magicboots USB adapter.
HORI Fighting Stick Mini 4
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HORI is a brand that is very well known and received by the fighting games community because it is a brand that manufactures quality yet quite inexpensive (typical price range is around $150) fightsticks.
This one is an anomaly, a fifty-buck fightstick, which is very accessible for entry-level fighting games players. You probably won’t see this in tournaments, but HORI Fighting Stick Mini still performs quite well with its responsive buttons and nice lever.
It is quite light, so a veteran player might have a hard time using it. This fightstick, while under $100, will still serve you well if you want a low commitment controller to test out if fighting games are for you.
PXN 0082 Arcade Stick
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This low-budget fightstick is my very first controller when I first started with Street Fighter V. The buttons of this fightstick are quite responsive and is dirt cheap at forty dollars. This is perfect for players who are just dabbling into fighting games and want to “test the waters” if fighting games are for them.
The PXN fightstick is quite light, making it very portable but unstable and cannot be used on your lap. To counter this downside, there are suction cups underneath the stick so you can stick it to a smooth surface for stability.
Another downside for this very cheap fightstick is that it only lasted around 8 months in my hands, although I did treat it with neglect and relentless pounding. The buttons also need a bit of in-game configuring, since the placement is wrong.
Why are fightsticks under $100.00 always light and compact?
Good question! There aren’t many fightsticks under $100, and the reason is fightsticks are generally hard to manufacture with low cost. Competitive playing fightsticks usually cost $150 (low end) up to $500. Fightsticks are usually you-get-what-you-pay-for kind of gadgets where cost usually (but not always) denotes the quality, aesthetics, and performance of the gadget.
However, one should never confuse the cost of a fightstick with skill in fighting games. A highly skilled player with a hundred buck controller can beat someone with lower skills even if they are using a higher-end fightstick. Practicing is still paramount!