Street Fighter 5 - Stick or Pad

The age-old question begs to be asked again, as well look into the differences between an arcade stick and traditional controller.

Jan. 22, 2016, 3:40 p.m. by Bryan Dawson

Street Fighter 5 is set to release on February 16, 2016 for the PlayStation 4 and PC. Just like Street Fighter 4 before it, the upcoming title is poised to reignite the fighting game scene, bringing in a flurry of newcomers and some of the older generation who haven’t played a fighting game in years. With all of the new people flooding into the fighting game scene, the age old question of what to use when you’re playing is bound to come up again.

We’ve already covered some of the new arcade sticks coming out for Street Fighter 5, so this time around we’re looking into the difference between playing on a stick or playing on a standard controller. As always, if you’re more accustomed to playing on one or the other, you’re going to get better results with what you’re more comfortable with. You can always switch to something else and perhaps become more proficient, but at first you will very likely struggle with the transition.

Advantages of Playing on Pad

For most console gamers, using the d-pad on a standard controller gives them a lot more control over their character. Moving your thumb around the d-pad is a much shorter travel distance compared to using your entire left hand (or even just a few fingers) to maneuver the stick on an arcade stick. While you can argue that once someone gets the hang of using a stick, they have better control over their character, a lot of new players feel the need to flail around on the stick because they’re using their entire hand (or at the very least, more than just their thumb).

Another advantage of playing on pad is that you can access all of the face buttons with a single finger (usually the thumb on your right hand). This makes most people feel more in control of their character because they can quickly and easily shift between the four face buttons. Even using your index fingers on the shoulder buttons or triggers is far easier for most people compared to using your entire right hand to execute attacks on an arcade stick.

Disadvantages of Playing on Pad

The primary disadvantage of playing on a pad is the fact that most standard controllers only have four face buttons, with the remaining buttons located on the shoulders of the controller. For new players they often favor the face buttons over the shoulder buttons and triggers, and therefore end up neglecting many of their character’s attack options.

In addition, it can be difficult for some people to perform circular motions on the d-pad, which is a staple movement in Street Fighter. While the analog stick on the controller works better than the d-pad for some people, both options can be difficult for people trying to perform circular motions in rapid succession.

Advantages of Playing on Stick

One of the big advantages of playing on a stick is that all of your actions are more deliberate. With a separate finger on each of the attack buttons or multiple fingers spread out across the attack buttons, you won’t have to worry about accidentally hitting the wrong button. That’s always something that can happen, but it’s more likely to happen when your thumb is trying to hit everything as opposed to multiple fingers. It’s also much easier to hit two attack buttons at once or quickly shift from one attack button to another if you’re using multiple fingers instead of just your thumb. Not to mention the travel distance of the triggers is much farther than a button on an arcade stick.

Sometimes doing complex motions with your thumb can lead to blisters. However, when you play on an arcade stick you’re using your left hand and wrist to do most of the movement work. Not only will you avoid blisters this way, but once you get the hang of it, a lot of people believe you have more freedom of control. Keep in mind, it’s much easier to modify an arcade stick than it is to make adjustments to a controller. Most Mad Catz sticks some with Sanwa parts, but you may prefer Seimitsu parts instead. Just because you tried one stick and didn’t like it does not mean you dislike all sticks.

Disadvantages of Playing on Stick

One of the biggest issues with using an arcade stick is the general size of the stick. You need to sit the arcade stick on your lap, the floor or a table of some sort. Some people like to play in awkward positions, laying in bed or in some way that would be difficult to use an arcade stick. In addition, there are some people who find it uncomfortable to play with a stick in their lap, or they can’t find the proper table height, or don’t like playing on the floor. You’re somewhat limited in how you position your body when you’re playing with an arcade stick.

For those who travel to friend’s houses, go home for summer break or head out to tournaments, traveling with an arcade stick can also be a cumbersome task. It’s much easier to toss a controller into your travel bag and be on your way. A lot of people have a dedicated arcade stick bag, but whatever the case may be, it takes more effort to travel with an arcade stick than it does to travel with a controller. There’s also the issue of price with an arcade stick costing considerably more than a standard controller. You can break multiple controllers before you reach the cost of an arcade stick, but if you break an arcade stick it may be awhile before you can afford to fix or replace it.

We’ve stated it before, but we’ll say it again, it really does come down to preference here. If you’re accustomed to player with a controller, give an arcade stick a test run for a week or so and see how you like it. You probably know someone with an arcade stick that you can borrow, or you can buy one from GameStop and return it within a week. Keep in mind you will not play well at first. Give it at least a week of solid play before you decide whether you prefer one control option over another.

We’ll have more on Street Fighter 5 in the coming weeks, but for now you can check out our beta strategies for M. Bison , Ryu and more !