What is a Hitbox controller?

I’m firmly a fightstick player and have been for many years. However,  recently I came across an interesting video of Justin Wong using a Hitbox. Of course, I’ve heard of a hitbox and what it is, but I’ve never really got interested enough to buy one.

After watching the video, and doing some research online,  I’m actually considering buying a Hitbox controller.

So I thought it would be interesting to make a post about what a Hitbox actually is and whether you should consider buying one.

What is a Hitbox controller?

Hitbox controllers look like fightsticks, but they’re probably closer to a keyboard in function.

There is no joystick, only buttons. There are 4 buttons in place of the joystick which, essentially, is the equivalent of W, S, A, and spacebar on a keyboard.

The button which is the ‘space bar’ button is in between the left-hand and right-hand side buttons and is a little bit bigger too.

It should be said at this point there is also a variation of the Hitbox called the Mixbox. The Mixbox is similar to a HItbox, except the left-hand side is much more representative of a keyboard as they literally are just directional keyboard buttons.

For the purposes of this article, however, I will focus on the Hitbox as it is the most popular type of stickless arcade stick.

How to use a Hitbox?

You have to think of it as a keyboard. For those familiar with playing fighting games on pc, using a keyboard, this will seem quite easy to do. For others, it may take a bit of practice getting used to the controls.

Essentially, the left-hand side buttons control directional movement, whilst the right-hand side are the classic normal move buttons.

You have to use a combination of both fingers to get moves out. The larger button in the middle is for your thumbs and controls things like jumping etc.

What is so good about Hitboxes?

Accuracy and speed are probably the biggest advantages of using a Hitbox controller.

With a joystick, there is more travel time as you have to wait for it to go back to neutral (middle) after inputting a direction.

However, with a Hitbox, you can hit left and right buttons to signify a neutral position. This is called a ‘true neutral’ position and would be difficult to implement on a joystick.

What this is means is that complicated inputs like wave-dashing, for example, can make these easier to pull off.

Another advantage of using a hitbox is comfort. Some users report Hitboxes being a lot more comfortable compared to a joystick as it requires less wrist movement.

Why are Hitbox controllers so controversial?

Some users have asked whether Hitboxes are banned at tournaments. I personally have never seen a rule regarding this. That may be because I haven’t really come across many people that use Hitboxes.

I suspect it may have something to do with Macro cheaters. Some users can assign a button to do a certain move or button combination. But, this can also be done with normal Fightsticks so it ’s probably doubtful that this is the case.

What are the disadvantages of using a Hitbox?

The biggest disadvantage, especially if you’re not a keyboard player, is the learning curve required.

This is, of course, the case with fightsticks aswell if you haven’t used one before, but the combination of using both hands and fingers may be confusing at first and may require a lot of practice to get used to.

Another negative is the price as they don’t come cheap. A standard hitbox is $200. You could get a decent high-end fightstick for that price, although saying that, hitboxes do have quality Sanwa parts and hence have that solid feel to it.

But If you’re looking for a cheap controller to play fighting games the Hitbox certainly is not it.

Should I get a Hitbox controller?

Honestly, it depends on your needs and what you’ll be most comfortable with.

If you’re a PC player who uses a keyboard to play fighting games then getting a Hitbox is probably a no brainer. It’s probably the most natural transition to a tool which will get you better at fighting games.

I think the most appealing thing for me – although I’m not a keyboard player by any means – is the speed and accuracy improvements. In games like Tekken, I have trouble pulling off certain moves like wave-dashing; this will make it a lot easier to do that.

In addition, I like to think I have pretty good execution when I’m using a fightstick but there are still certain moves like 360s that I have trouble pulling off consistently. Looking at reviews from other users, I’ve noticed their 360 moves have improved dramatically, so this is another consideration for me.

A potential drawback I could see is the learning curve. As I’m firmly a fightstick player, it could take a bit of time getting used to using a Hitbox. However, I don’t really see this has a huge issue as I was the same when I started using a fightstick and I’m willing to put in the time to get good.

Another drawback is the price, but as I’ve already covered, these sticks use high-quality parts and are built to last so I think the price is justified.


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