Fightstick vs Fightpad – which one should you get?

Fightstick or Fightpad? It’s a question I struggled with many years ago when I wanted to switch from an Xbox 360 controller to play Street Fighter IV.

They each have their advantages and disadvantages, but which one is better? Which one should you own over the other and invest your precious time?

This article will explain each controller and why you should use it. I will also list the pros and cons so you can compare the two controllers fairly.

Finally, I will end by making my recommendation. Read on, my friend.

Overview of Fightsticks & Fightpads

Fightsticks and fightpads are the perfect way to take your gaming experience to the next level.

Whether you’re a fan of arcade games, fighting games, or any other kind of video game, fightsticks and fightpads provide a more accurate input than traditional controllers can.

They usually feature either Sanwa Denshi or Hori buttons and directional pads—both highly responsive—and dual analogue sticks for precise movement.

These items are also popular on platforms like Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, so no matter which gaming system you prefer, you have plenty of options for upgrading your controller.

What is a Fightstick?

Fightsticks are video game controllers which are mostly used to play fighting games.

They usually consist of a joystick and buttons and are designed to replicate the traditional arcade cabinet in a more portable home environment.

The price of a fightstick varies from $30 for a basic stick with cheaper quality parts to $200 for a premium stick with a Japanese Sanwa or Semitsu joystick and buttons.

Fightsticks come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and designs.

Why should you use a fightstick?

There are many reasons. One may be nostalgia. If you grew up playing a fighting game in the arcade, this is perhaps the closest way to replicating the feel of an arcade cabinet.

Another reason is execution. A decent fightstick, with quality parts, will have mechanical Sanwa buttons that provide a great deal of accuracy and precision when pressed, compared to a Fightpad.

In addition, having the buttons laid out in front of you means your inputs will be cleaner and more motion, easier to do.

Finally, most fightsticks can also be modded with different joysticks/levers, buttons, and artwork. Again, these modifications are often fairly simple to do.

Pros and cons of a fightstick


  • A fightstick provides good execution for a range of motions
  • It can be modified quite easily compared to a Fightpad
  • Nostalgia for Arcade lovers
  • Decent quality sticks can last a long time
  • Better for Muscle Memory  


  • Can be expensive
  • It requires a learning curve, especially for those not familiar with Arcade Sticks
  • It can get loud when hitting the buttons
  • Fightsticks are bulkier than Fightpads, so are not good for portability.

What is a Fightpad?

Fightpads are the middle ground between a traditional controller and a fightstick.

They look similar to a default controller except for the additional face buttons making it a six-button layout. This makes it easier to access all the buttons you would use to move with your fingers or thumb.

A Fightpad can range from $20 to $50, making it more reasonable than a fightstick.

Why should you use a Fightpad?

Aside from the cheaper price tag, there are a few reasons why you might want to use A Fightpad over a Fightstick.

Firstly, because a Fightpad is closer to a traditional controller in terms of look and feel, it’s easier to learn than a Fightstick. This means you don’t have to spend much time on a Fightpad before you get good.

Second, the D-pad allows for better execution of certain moves, even more than a Fightstick, in some cases. For instance, it’s easier to pull off a Shoryuken on a Fightpad because of the lack of wiggle on a D-pad.

Pros and cons of a Fightpad


  • A cheaper alternative to a fightstick
  • Less of a learning curve.
  • More durable than a default controller
  • It can also be used for non-fighting games
  • Comfortable for Claw or Crab grip users
  • Portable and compact


  • Harder to execute certain moves
  • Less tactile than a fightstick
  • Potentially less reliable than a fightstick
  • The lack of mechanical parts means the button or D-pad may feel mushy
  • Less comfortable for longer gaming sessions

Different Types of Fightsticks/Pads

Are you a fighting game fan looking for something more than the standard controller? Then you may want to consider investing in one of the many types of fightsticks or fightpads available.

Fightsticks are great for those looking for precise inputs and accurate button presses. They offer a traditional layout with multiple face buttons and two analog sticks. Sanwa Denshi is one popular brand that makes high-quality arcade sticks, perfect for Street Fighter and other classic fighting games.

Fightpads, on the other hand, are slimmer and offer more comfort during extended gaming sessions. With two dual analog sticks, they can also give you an edge in certain games where precision is key, such as Street Fighter IV. Many fightpads also feature additional shoulder buttons that allow for even greater control options depending on the game.

No matter what type of device you choose, there’s no wrong answer when selecting between a standard controller or a fightstick/fightpad! With so many different models available, there’s sure to be something out there that fits your needs perfectly.

Which one should you get?

Is one better than the other? Not necessarily. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, as I’ve just listed.

A lot of it comes down to personal preference. But you might ask, how do I know which one I prefer if I’ve never used them? So let me explain a bit deeper.

My personal preference – and this should come as no surprise, looking at the name of this site –  is a fightstick.

In the long run, a fightstick can provide better execution and accuracy. In addition, I’ve rarely had a fightstick (a good quality one) break down on me. Even if this happens, I can easily repair it as a fightstick can be modded, and parts are abundant.

So that means A fightstick is better. Well… depends. I still use a Fightpad from time to time, for example, in Mortal Kombat and Injustice. I find pulling off moves and combos more comfortable using a Fightpad as opposed to a Fightstick in these games. Although this is my preference, some might find using a Fightstick more comfortable for these games.

I was still confused as to which one to get? Here’s my advice. If money is a factor, then, starting, get a Fightpad. You can get one for as little as $20, so it’s not a huge investment.

After you get good, then think about switching to a fightstick. However, if you think you’re good enough and don’t need a fightstick, stick with the Fightpad.

Nowadays, really good pad players compete on a pro level. In addition, games like Street Fighter V are more Fightpad friendly, so you don’t have to get a Fightstick if you don’t feel comfortable.

If you eventually decide to go for a fightstick, buy a decent-quality one. Try to avoid skimping out and buying a cheap fightstick. If you have to buy a cheap one, swap out the parts for a good-quality joystick and buttons.

Illustration of a smiling man with long hair and beard sitting in a gaming room with computer equipment in the background.
Mike "The Destroyer" Johnson

Bio: Mike got hooked on fight sticks after a jaw-dropping arcade visit back in high school. Since then, he's spent countless hours perfecting his moves and combos, constantly pushing himself to improve. With his relentless drive, Mike has become a force to be reckoned with in local and online tournaments. He's now dedicated to sharing his expertise and passion for fight sticks with the world. Favorite Fight Stick: Razer Panthera Evo Favorite Games: Street Fighter V, Tekken 7