Why I Still Prefer Sticks Over Gamepads for Fighting Games

The Evolution Championship Series, EVO for short just ended this weekend. And I loved every minute of it! This is probably my fourth favorite time of the year (In order: Christmas, my birthday, E3, Evo and New Year). I know I’m never going to be good enough to win it; heck, it’s just going to be a huge bother for me to just to fly all the way to Las Vegas and all that! But I do enjoy watching the entire thing online since I’m a huge fan of fighting games.

Whether it be Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Dead or Alive, Persona, Guilty Gear, Marvel vs. Capcom, I enjoy me some fighting games. I grew up playing most of those fighting games in the arcades where you grabbed a joystick with your left hand and pushed buttons with the right. However, as fighting games became more prevalent and more readily accessible at home through home consoles, I generally switched over to using the standard console gamepad because, well, I’m a cheapskate and I don’t want to spend money on a quality fight stick.

Expensive as heck

Expensive as heck

I’ve grown pretty much accustomed to playing fighting games using the standard gamepad on my PS3. Through years of practice, I can nail a couple of really complex combos in Ultra Street Fighter IV, execute the Zero lightning loop in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, hold my own on Tekken and perform all the fatalities in Mortal Kombat X. I still suck at Dead Or Alive 5: Ultimate, though. But I am getting much better at it. Still, even with years of practice I still prefer using a fight stick and I feel more comfortable yanking away on a big, bulky stick… I know that sounded dirty but you know what I mean.

I usually get a copy of the major fighting games on console nowadays, after all. And since I’ve never bothered getting a proper fight stick, I actually believe I’ve had more time using the standard controller. The only time I actually get to play fighting games using a regular arcade stick nowadays is, well, at the arcades! And I just don’t have the time to got there everyday to play anymore.

What an incredibly garish arcade cabinet!

Wouldn’t want to play on this incredibly garish arcade cabinet!

Even if this is the case and I actually have more hours of practice using a regular gamepad, I just find myself more comfortable with a proper fight stick. The biggest reason? I don’t have to twist and contort my fingers to uncomfortable positions to execute a move!

I’ll give a proper example. In Ultra Street Fighter IV, Capcom implemented a new game mechanic called Red Focus. Essentially, it’s a universal move that will absorb numerous hits. It’s executed by pressing and holding down the Light Punch+Medium Punch+Medium Kick (Jab+Strong+Forward attack buttons) at the same time.

Okay, that seems easy to execute… if you have a stick! But it’s virtually impossible to perform on a regular gamepad since these attack buttons are all mapped on the face buttons! You’ll need some incredible finger dexterity to hit all three buttons at the same time with your thumb!

When I use a gamepad, there’s just no “oomph” to the movements.There’s no satisfying ratchet-y sound as you twirl the D-pad/analog stick around. There’s no no satisfying click when you press/depress a button on a gamepad’s buttons. I know it can be annoying for some but I honestly like the sound as it sort of gives me a confirmation that I actually performed the move correctly.

Well, it doesn’t have to sound like the above video but you get the idea.

I guess, ultimately, I guess I prefer fight sticks because that’s the controller I used when I started out playing fighting games. Each time I go back to an arcade and play a fighting game, all of my muscle memory comes rushing in. I can perform most of my attacks with a great deal of precision. It just feels natural.

I can’t fault new gamers for being more used to playing with a regular gamepad for that same reason. If they get really good with using a regular controller then more power to them. It’s probably how the initially played fighting games. Me, I still prefer the good ol’ fight stick for fighting games. I started out with one so it just comes naturally for me to play on one.

Do you prefer fighting sticks or gamepad for your fighting games? Let me know in the comments section!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s