Combo Theory: Fight Sticks
Hello and welcome to a less involved version of Combo Theory. I had originally planned on writing up some strategies for using Mira in Killer Instinct, but my capture equipment decided otherwise. This week’s article is a bit different and we’re going to take a look at some of the best products for getting started with fighting games. All the opinions here are subjective and none of the fightsticks below were supplied to The Game Haus. I have personally purchased and used each item below sans the Qanba Drone.
Q: What will a fight stick do for me?
A: Absolutely nothing. Fight sticks are simply one method of controlling your game. They do not make you a better player and they will not do away with your weaknesses. Play fighting games with what you feel comfortable with and what you can do the best with. Outside of Killer Instinct, I cannot play with a controller due to hand cramps which is why I use a fight stick. Just remember that Red Bull’s Oliver “Luffy” Hay won Evo 2014 with a modded Playstation 1 pad.
Q: What fight stick should I buy?
A: As far as recommendations go, do not buy a cheap fight stick. A fight stick is a luxury item and you should set aside at least 150 US dollars for one. Fight sticks take a lot of abuse and cheap sticks will buckle under pressure. Most quality sticks ship with Sanwa Denshi buttons and a Sanwa JLF Joystick. There are different versions of these parts depending on if you want an American, Korean or Japanese style stick. Most fight sticks do offer an easy way to change parts and stick art, but we’ll tackle that in a different article because most newer players should just stick with buying quality sticks with quality parts. I’m going to list a few sticks below at different price ranges and why you should consider them.
The best entry level stick on the market right now is the Qanba Drone. The stick retails at 79.99 and is an excellent entry level stick. Qanba is a well known stick producer and while the drone doesn’t have stock Sanwa parts, it is easily modifiable and early buzz for the stick is positive. The stick is compatible with both Playstation 3 and 4 consoles.
The next stick on the list comes from Japanese manufacturer Hori with the HRAP 4. Prior to Madcatz entering the market, Hori was the default manufacturer of Playstation 4 sticks and even now the HRAP 4 is a fantastic mid-level stick. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Hayabusa buttons, but the actual joystick felt great and the buttons are easily replaced. There aren’t many customization options as far as art goes, but the stick is a well priced stick with excellent response time and feel. The HRAP 4 has been discontinued, but you can find them on amazon for around 125 US dollars with shipping. I do not recommend purchasing the HRAP 4 Kai or any of the HRAP V models as they have egregious input delay.
The last two sticks we’re going to talk about come from MadCatz and they are easily the best sticks on the market. The Madcatz TES+ and TE2+ are the official sticks of the Capcom Pro Tour and both have excellent response time, numerous features for PlayStation 4 users and high quality parts. Both sticks feature Sanwa Denshi buttons and a Sanwa JLF joystick. The TE2+ is a monster stick and the weight of the stick lends itself to staying put despite intense play. There’s a definite luxury in the stick with the numerous buttons and features, but the stick’s 225 dollar price tag is a barrier to entry. For those looking for the same level of quality for 40-60 dollars cheaper, I recommend the TES+. It has all the features of the TE2+ in a slimmer, more sturdy package. The TES+ lacks a lot of the customization options and is more similar to the sticks MadCatz put out in the PS3/XB360 era. The current model is decked out in a Shadoloo theme, but you can order a new plexi and art from the good folks at Tek Innovations. For what it’s worth, I personally use a TES+ and that stick has suffered through my gratuitous man hands and their abuse. Personally, I think the TES+ is the best stick on the market for the price and I highly recommend it.
Q: What monitor should I use?
A: The Evolution Championship series uses the BenQ RL2460HT and so should you!
That concludes this week’s Combo Theory. God willing, my new capture equipment doesn’t burst at the might of my PC and I can get back to teaching you Killer Instinct poorly.
Seth Hall has been playing fighting games for the last four years and writing for the last two. He can be found on twitter @themanseries and will be competing at The Fall Classic in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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