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Best Controllers For Fighting Games

Highlights

  • Fighting game enthusiasts have a plethora of new titles to enjoy in 2024, from Tekken 8 to Guilty Gear Strive and more.
  • Gamers in the market for a new controller have various options, ranging from affordable choices like the 8BitDo M30 to high-end options like the PDP Victrix Pro FS.
  • Stickless designs like the Hit Box and Mix Box provide a unique alternative to traditional arcade sticks, offering precision and ease of use for players.

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Fighting games have come back in style since the heady days of 1990s arcades. If players haven’t been getting into Guilty Gear Strive, King of Fighters 15, or Super Smash Bros Ultimate, they’re playing Tekken 8, Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising, or waiting for Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves with bated breath. That’s not getting into Capcom’s big success with Street Fighter 6, or the blood on offer from Netherrealm Studios’ Mortal Kombat 1.

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Either way, they’re all enough to keep people busy with their controllers. While the standard joypad might be enough for casual play, some players may prefer something more comfortable and ergonomically designed for doing Pretzel Motions and other crazy commands on the regular. With them in mind, here are the best controllers for playing fighting games.

Updated on April 3rd, 2024 by David Heath: 2023 was a big year for fighting games, but 2024 is no slouch either. Tekken 8 finally came out and impressed players new and old. Under Night In-Birth 2 Sys: Celes popped up to entertain anime fighter fans. At least it did until Guilty Gear Strive brought fan favorite character A.B.A back from the Guilty Gear XX Accent Core games (and Guilty Gear Isuka, but no one talks about Isuka).

In short, fighting game fans have plenty of games to play, but they still need something to play them with. Whether they’re just playing them once in a while, or heading to tournaments, they’ll need the best pad, arcade stick, or stickless controllers around. So, this list has been updated with more of the top controllers for fighting games, alongside a few tweaks here and there.

18 8BitDo M30

Retro Design For Classic Controls

Fighting Game Controllers- 8BitDo M30

  • Supports: Nintendo Switch, PC, Raspberry Pi, macOS, Android
  • Has Bluetooth, upgradeable firmware, and Turbo options
  • $27.99 from 8BitDo

Many of the controllers here are going to cost a pretty penny as they’re aimed at the players who eat, sleep, and breathe the genre in between going to tournaments. But there are some economical options for players who just want a comfy controller where they don’t have to travel between the face buttons and the right shoulder buttons for attacks. The 8BitDo M30 is basically an old-school 6-button Sega Genesis/Saturn pad, complete with their color schemes.

Aside from the comfort of having 6 face buttons for attacks, it’s compatible with smartphones, PCs, Raspberry Pi, and Nintendo Switch (PS4 and Xboxes require an adapter). It only costs $27.99 too. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have analog sticks, so it’s not so great for other games. Its SNES-based counterpart does have sticks, but costs $35.99 and keeps the 4-button layout.

17 Hori Fighting Commander OCTA

Out With The Old, In With The New

Fighting Game Controllers- Hori Fighting Commander OCTA

  • Supports: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S via brand-supported models
  • Has headset and audio options, adjustable D-pad, and micro-switch buttons
  • $49.99 (Xbox), $59.99 (PS5) from Hori

Sadly, the original Hori Fighting Commander controller for the PS3 and PS4 has been discontinued. Its Switch version is still available and is compatible with the PC too. But its other models will have to be found pre-owned. This is because it’s since been succeeded by the Hori Fighting Commander OCTA, which has two different models designed around the PlayStation and Xbox consoles respectively.

It retains the old design’s Genesis-inspired button layout, as well as its bigger buttons and D-Pad, and players can still set the D-Pad and shoulder button commands. But it now comes with a Short Throw analog stick with an 8-way gate for more accurate controls, and adjustable input sensitivity to get them just right. It’s only an extra $10-20 more than the old models too, so it’s not too bad on the wallet either.

16 PowerA Fusion Fightpad

Old School Cool

Fighting Game Controllers- PowerA Fusion Fightpad

  • Supports: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
  • Responsive D-Pad, classic Genesis button layout, customizable shoulder/directional controls
  • $59.99 (Switch) from PowerA

Likewise, the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the PowerA Fusion Fightpad aren’t being sold on PowerA’s website directly anymore. In fact, they don’t have a controller section for any PlayStation console on their website as of this writing. They’re still selling the Nintendo Switch version, and have other Xbox controllers, but players will have to check out Amazon and other websites for the Sony and Xbox One Fightpads.

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The controller is essentially identical to the M30, in that it’s modeled after the Sega Genesis/Saturn controller, complete with the same button layout and D-Pad. Yet its D-Pad has been praised by fighting game fans for its responses and comfortable design, offering precise control and a nice, lightweight design. Even so, its $59.99 price is quite high compared to the M30 and OCTA. But it can be found for as low as $10 from other outlets.

15 Retro-Bit Sega Saturn Control Pad

Welcome To The Next Level

Fighting Game Controllers- Retro-Bit Sega Saturn Controller

  • Supports: PC, macOS, Steam, Sega Genesis Mini, Nintendo Switch
  • Classic Genesis/Saturn face button layout, 10ft cable, responsive D-Pad
  • $19.99 from Retro-Bit

The reason the Genesis 6-button pad is so beloved is that it was essentially designed to play fighting games. Playing Street Fighter 2 with the original 3-button pad was a mess because players had to press Start to switch between Punches and Kicks. The SNES controller had enough buttons to map all 3 Punches and all 3 Kicks without trouble. But they involved using the shoulder buttons, which weren’t as comfortable as the face buttons.

Then the Genesis’ 6-button pad came out, got carried over to the Sega Saturn, and made fighting games a dream to play. The Retro-Bit Sega Saturn Control Pad is the closest to replicating the original pad, as it’s designed to fit the original’s grade of quality. The difference is that it can now be used on modern machines, from the Switch to the PC. But if players still have a Saturn knocking about, Retro-Bit also offers new pads for the old console to help them relive the 1990s.

14 SCUF Envision Pro

Fit For The PC Master Race

Fighting Game Controllers- SCUF Envision Pro

  • Supports: PC
  • Offers 11 re-mappable buttons, adjustable triggers, and clicky, quick responses
  • Price: $179.99 from ScufGaming

Looks can be deceiving, as the SCUF Envision Pro doesn’t seem more ideal for fighting games than an ordinary Xbox or PlayStation pad. Especially when it’s essentially $180 and PC only. However, judging by its reviews, it may be more suited for fighting games than other genres. For one, it offers a wide range of configurable buttons, from ‘G-Keys’ for mic/headset controls, to additional shoulder buttons and triggers, which can be adjusted to fit the player’s preference.

The faceplate and sticks can be swapped out and customized, and its clicky, Omron face buttons offer rapid response times. For some genres, that would be handy. For fighting games, they can be essential for nailing the tight timing on certain combos. If players can’t find a use for its extra triggers and bumpers, it comes with some caps to cover them up and shut them off. It can be a handy controller for fighting games, but it has a rival at the same price that offers a little more.

13 PDP Victrix Pro BFG Wireless Controller

Stop & Swap

Fighting Game Controllers- Victrix Pro BFG

  • Supports: PS4, PS5, PC
  • Includes interchangeable layouts to support other games, calibration options, and firmware updates
  • $179.99 from PDP

Considering everything it comes with, the PDP Victrix Pro BFG may be the best value for money at $179.99. For that hefty price, players get a controller where they can change the layout themselves. The D-pad, analog sticks, and face buttons come with different attachments, so players can choose between the standard pad layout, a 6-button setup, and more. It also has buttons on the back, which are handy for FPS games and other genres.

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It also comes with a Tournament Lock to lock out the system buttons during tournaments, which will keep the player safe from accidentally pressing these buttons during a tournament that makes them verboten. The pad can also receive system upgrades to aid compatibility and functionality, though tech-savvy players may need to scour for any bloatware out of the box. Otherwise, this can cause it to run out of power pretty quickly. It can recharge in a snap too, but it’s still quite power-hungry.

12 Hori Fighting Stick Mini

A Good Place To Start

Fighting Game Controllers- Hori Fighting Stick Mini 4

  • Supports: PS3, PS4, PS5, PC, and Nintendo Switch via brand-supported models
  • Has toggleable Turbo settings, a rubberized grip to stay in place, and Capture/Volume Control buttons
  • $49.99 (Switch), $59.99 (Sony) from Hori

While it’s fine to play fighters with pads, arcade sticks are easier on the hands. People can just set it on their laps and drum on the buttons, rather than split their fingers between holding the pad and pressing the face buttons, or using the shoulder buttons for alternative inputs per game, etc. The question is, if someone is new to sticks, where should they begin? Which one is good for beginners?

Enter the Hori Fighting Stick Mini. It’s officially licensed by Sony, so it’s only compatible with their consoles and the PC. But it’s also $59.99 new, has 8 face buttons, neatly organized system buttons, and is light and compact enough to lug around. Nintendo Switch owners do have their own version that’s $10 cheaper and has all the same features. But Xbox owners are out of luck unless they also have a PC to use it with too.

11 Hori Fighting EDGE

Get The Edge Over The Competition

Fighting Game Controllers- Hori Fighting Edge

  • Supports: PS4, PS5, and PC
  • Has Hayabusa buttons for increased response time, and its parts can be customized easily
  • $199.99 from Hori

While the original Hori Fighting EDGE stick did work on the Xbox 360 and PS3, the newest iteration of it is another PS4, PS5, and PC exclusive. It’s a much bigger device than the Fighting Stick Mini, but not uncomfortably so for play. However, it does mean it requires more care if players are taking it on the move. Especially as it costs $199.99 per unit (even more so for older models). The reason it costs four times as much as the Mini, beyond its size, is its tech.

Its Hayabusa buttons and stick are clicky and responsive, the system buttons are set away from the face buttons to avoid accidental presses (it also has that aforementioned Tournament Mode to shut them off if need be), and it has a headphone jack. The device can also be customized if players want to swap out the buttons or stick for less clicky alternatives. Pricey as it is, it’s worth the cash for big fighting game enthusiasts.

10 Qanba Drone 2

Effective And Cost-Effective

Fighting Game Controllers- Qanba Drone 2

  • Supports: PS4, PS5, and PC
  • Responsive buttons, easy to customize, sturdy design
  • $124.99 from QanbaUSA

For something easier on the wallet than the Fighting EDGE, but more upmarket than the Fighting Stick Mini, there’s the Qanba Drone 2. Aside from the 8-button layout, it comes with switches that alter the stick’s input (D-pad, Left Stick, or Right Stick) and compatibility with the machine it’s being played on. Yes, it’s another PS4, PS5 & PC-only stick.

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The stick is also easier to modify than the Fighting EDGE, which is handy as it’s just slightly less sturdy than that stick too. So, if push came to shove, players would be able to replace its parts. Its buttons, while responsive, can feel a little slick. There’s no Tournament Mode either, but the system buttons are placed out of the way of the main face buttons to avoid accidental presses. At $124.99, it’s a solid, mid-range stick that’ll keep players in the game.

9 PDP Victrix Pro FS

The Pro-Player’s Choice

Fighting Game Controllers- PDP Victrix Pro FS

  • Supports: PS4, PS5, and PC
  • Has Sanwa-Denshi buttons, customizable parts, a foam base for non-slip coverage, and aluminum panels for extra durability
  • $399.99 from PDP

Not to be outdone, PDP also made controllers for players who prefer sticks. The PDP Victrix Pro FS has the most eye-watering price of the bunch at $399.99. When PDP said it was “designed for tournaments”, they really meant it, as only top players and professionals are going to get their money’s worth from the stick. Its sturdy design, backed up by its aluminum panels, is meant to take the brunt of traveling to and from venues as well as any accidental drops.

It also had Sanwa-Denshi buttons, which are generally regarded as the best on the market, but they can be replaced if the player prefers other models. The same goes for its Link 2 Stick. The system controls are a little close to the face buttons, but it has Tournament Mode to lock them out during tournament play. There’s even a stickless model available for players weaned on the Hit Box. Still, the stick is best suited for players seeking glory rather than fun.

8 Etokki Omni Arcade Stick

The Universal Master

Fighting Game Controllers- Etokki Omni Arcade Stick

  • Supports: PS3, PS4, PC (Standard), Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS3, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation Classic, Genesis Mini, Neo Geo Mini (Universal)
  • Customizable parts, arcade-accurate layout, non-slip grip compatible with parts from Taeyoung, Namco, Sanwa and more
  • $219.95 (Standard), $279.95 (Universal) from Etokki

That said, the keenest fighting game players may find the Etokki Omni Arcade Stick much more value for money. Especially if they work with a PS3, PS4, and PC as those platforms are supported by the Standard Stick. Everyone else has to cough up an extra $60 on top of the Standard’s $219.95 price. That’s still over $100 cheaper than the PDP Victrix Pro FS and essentially covers the past decade’s worth of machines.

On top of that, it’s a sturdy stick designed to handle bumps and knocks but allows people to personalize its cover designs. It offers X-Input and D-Input modes for PC games, and touchpad functions for the PS4, and can automatically detect PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC without requiring extra drivers or tweaking. The cost is still quite heavy for casual players, but it’s a bargain for top-flight fighters.

7 Mayflash F500 Elite Arcade Stick

Top Of The Class

Fighting Game Controllers- Mayflash F500 Elite

  • Supports: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC, Android, Genesis Mini, Neo Geo Mini, Astro City Mini
  • Has a rubberized base for non-slip coverage, supports headset options for PS4 and Xbox One, customizable parts and panels, and a side compartment for USB cables
  • $149.98 from Mayflash’s Amazon Page

The Hori Fighting Stick Mini is good as an entry-level stick, and the Victrix Pro FS and Etokki Omni are great options for hardcore players. But what’s a good option for players who’d like to get serious, but don’t have hundreds of bucks to spend on a stick? The Mayflash F500 Elite Arcade Stick is a solid option, given it supports nearly all the machines the Etokki Omni does at nearly half the price.

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Curiously, it supports vibration and has an optional wrist strap to help players feel the intensity of the action up close. Otherwise, it has headset options for consoles, and X-Input and D-Input modes for PC, as well as Turbo Mode and D-Pad/Left Analog Stick toggles. The top panel can be swapped out for other designs, as can its Sanwa stick and buttons, though that’s a fiddlier process. But overall, it’s a solid deal for players seeking a solid stick.

6 Hit Box

It’s True, This Device Has No Stick

Fighting Game Controllers- Hitbox

  • Supports: PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC
  • Has a rubberized base for stability, Sanwa-Denshi buttons, portable design, and customizable parts
  • $249 from Hit Box Arcade (excluding shipping+handling)

In recent years, stickless controllers have risen in popularity. As the name suggests, they’re devices that have done away with the arcade stick entirely and replaced it with more buttons. For players, it’s made their inputs more precise and easier to do. Plus, there’s less chance of it getting damaged during transit because it’s smaller, sleeker, and doesn’t have a big stick on it that can get caught on stuff.

The first and most famous of these stickless designs is the Hit Box. Left, down, and right are assigned to the 3 red buttons to the left, with up/jump assigned to the one at the bottom. Other models change the layout, like the Smash Bros-based Smash Box, which adds even more buttons. But they all cost around $249 now, or £299 for its Cross|Up stick & stickless hybrid, so players might prefer to try it elsewhere first before buying it.

5 Snack Box Micro

Delicious Gameplay

Fighting Game Controllers- Snack Box Micro

  • Supports: PS3, PS4, PS5, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Android, Steam Deck
  • Slip-resistant base, customizable parts, control pegs for menu functions, and app edits
  • $265 from Junkfood Arcades

The Snack Box Micro is essentially a little Hit Box with the standard 8-face button layout. But it’s just as sturdy and easier to mod with customizable buttons and a faceplate. The bottom is slip-resistant too to keep it in the player’s lap. Plus, the device is compatible with nearly every device around, including Microsoft’s consoles, Android smartphones, and the Steam Deck.

That said, the price is still pretty high. On average, it goes for $265, though some eagle-eyed browsers can find it going for $200 online. PC and Switch owners can get its simpler equivalent, the Micro Lite, for $165 too. For an even cheaper alternative, the Fightboard MX is approximately $82 and has similar customization options. But without adapters and workarounds, it’s only compatible with the PC out of the box.

4 Razer Kitsune All-Button Arcade Controller

Bang For One’s Buck

Fighting Game Controllers- Razer Kitsune

  • Supports: PS5, PC
  • Offers touchpad functions, snappy button responses, SOCD cleaning, and lockable port
  • Price: $299.99 via Amazon and Razer.com

Fans may have heard of the Razer Kitsune All-Button Arcade Controller from either Justin Wong’s coverage of its development, or when Maximillian Dood debuted the finished product on a Twitch stream. It goes for a premium price at $299, but it offers a lot more than some other stickless designs for that cost. Officially licensed by Sony, it has all the system functions of the PS5 pad from the touchpad to options, sharing, etc., alongside buttons for L3/R3 functionality.

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Some of them are a little close to the face buttons due to its Vewlix layout, but it thankfully comes with a Tournament Lock mode to keep them from interfering in play. The buttons take some getting used to, as they feel different from the usual mechanical/Sanwa/etc buttons. However, they respond much faster to inputs, letting players get their jabs out practically in an instant. Combined with its light weight and ample wrist space, it’s comfy to use too, and allows custom artwork. If money is no object, this is the stickless design to go for.

3 PXN-X8

A Mix Box At An Affordable Price

Fighting Game Controllers- PXN-X8

  • Supports: PS3, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Android
  • Can switch directional controls from D-Pad to Left Analog Stick, Turbo functions, and customizable features
  • $62.99 from PXN-Game

The Mix Box is a rival stickless design to the Hit Box that uses mechanical keyboard keys for the directions instead of the 3 red buttons+Jump setup. It technically means players can hold left+right or up+down at the same time on the controller, but this is considered tourney-legal so long as both inputs are maintained or rejected. There are numerous Mixbox designs to choose from too, though the official ones can cost a lot.

Xbox owners have to pay $369.99 just to get one compatible with their systems. For a more affordable option, the PXN-X8 is $62.99 and works for the Microsoft consoles as well as the Switch, Sony machines, PC, and smartphones. It’s just as snappy with its responses and has plenty of customizable options too. It just has louder, slanted buttons and is harder to mod. If players just want to see how a Mixbox works, the PXN-X8 is the way to go.

2 Keybox Arcade

Love For The Left-Handed

Fighting Game Controllers- Keybox Arcade

  • Supports: PS3, PS4, PS5, PC, Switch
  • Has hot-swappable keys, SOCD cleaning, Brook PCB, and firmware updates.
  • Price: €110 (approx $118) to €170 ($183) from KeyboxArcade.eu (excluding shipping & handling).

If players aren’t having any luck with US brands, they could give international options a try. Keybox Arcade is based in Italy and has a variety of Hit Box and Mix Box-style controllers on offer. Some models even offer directional controls on the right and the face buttons on the left to aid left-handed players. In general, they offer Kailh Choc V2 buttons, and selectable compatibility.

PS5 owners have to pay a little extra to get a version that works for their machine, while PC owners can use any of their controllers out of the box (D-Input or X-Input). They’ll have to supply their own USB-C cable for charging and wired connections, but they’ll get a sturdy and affordable stickless controller. The original Keybox is a good option to go with, though their latest device, the Keybox Impact, offers more buttons to act as L3 and R3 options, among others.

1 Mavercade

The Pride Of Canada

Fighting Game Controllers- Mavercade

  • Supports: PS3, PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC
  • Offers selectable inputs, can be made to order, and has its own built-in configuration app
  • Price: $95-$140 (KeebFighters), $174-$246 (KeebBrawlers)

If the official Hit Box and Mix Box models are too costly, players can always get their own custom-made controller from Mavercade. Available from their website or their Etsy account, their KeebFighter and KeebBrawler models offer a range of stickless designs for affordable prices. Even its cheapest model, the KeebFighter-01, offers multiple SOCD cleaning modes and custom colors.

Players can configure its controls directly with its built-in app, and fit it into any of its suitable platforms via its selectable inputs, ranging from XInput and Keyboard, to consoles like the Switch, PS3, and PS4 (the latter requires a key). Those who prefer to make their own machines from scratch can even order Mavercade bases, enclosures, and panels too. However, since these controllers are made to order, their stocks can be limited, and it takes between 14-30 days for delivery. If time isn’t a factor, it’s worth picking up a Mavercade controller.

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