Learning to drive Stick for HDR/ST. Is it better in the long run or not?


OK, so this is YET ANOTHER stick vs. pad thread I know, (sorry) but hopefully it will be a high level one with input from top players, which, from searching as much as possible, none of the other ones appear to be. I wanted to discuss the finer technical points of what is and isn?t possible on either option, and specifically for high level, non beginner HDR/ST play ( I?m not looking for SFIV for dummies, that?s why I posted in here where all the OG?s hang out).

I?ve recently impulse bought a TE fightstick online for playing HDR (got it new for half price, am waiting for delivery at the moment) because I think I?ve reached the limit of what I?m capable of on on my madcatz fightpad, and I find myself getting frustrated at higher level matches with top guys. My brain can see what?s going on, my reflexes are fine, and can make my fingers react with the dexterity they need, but I?m getting burned when I try to pull off difficult reversals, supers, etc in clutch moments and losing rounds I should be winning. The weak link is always the gamepad?s d-pad not allowing me the quick response and accuracy to get the moves with split second timing exactly when I need them. I know what a good opponent is doing most of the time, but the execution on the gamepad lets me down in reacting to it.

I know my game is going to take a nose-dive over the next while while I?m learning the stick, and I?ve kind of looked at it as a long term investment in my game, rather than a quick fix, but I?m concerned that I may never actually get back to the stage I?m at at the moment with pad play. To put it in perspective, I?ve been playing SF on pads for about 17 years all the way back since the origninal SF2 World warrior on the snes, my execution is good, I would consider myself an advanced level pad user. I?m fast and sharp, and can do most of the advanced techniques, moves, combos, etc with reasonable consistency, so I?m no noob. It?s the lack of that split second twitch response in a clutch situation where a move that?s off by a single frame, or a super reversal that doesn?t come out perfectly on wakeup will cost me a match that?s messing me up. Piano inputs etc don?t really bother me too much, it?s nice to have the ability to use them, but I can piano more or less effectively on a pad because of the way I have my buttons customised, and I can mash pretty fast too, although it?s easier to do on a 3 over 3 set of buttons on a cabinet than on a pad.

My question is, has anybody been in the same situation and would they recommend switching to stick and ditching pad totally even though it will mean a big adjustment and lots of dropped games now for a small increase in skill that could be a long way off. I know the game was designed for stick, and I have a feeling that my game will never advance further than it?s at now unless I go stick, and I?ll keep losing those clutch matches if I stick with the crummy d-pad on the garbage madcatz fightpad I have versus being able to consistently get what I want on a stick.

Stuff that?s causing me issues at the moment (I main dictator):

1 frame jump/charges, often if I snap to jump and immediately back to charge my character will miss the jump or jump in the wrong direction and I get KO?d. The throw and resistance of the D-pad just doesn?t allow for that level of accuracy at speed.
BFBF supers. A nightmare on a pad, especially from the left side, they?re just not fast enough or reliable enough for me in clutch situations.A thumb isn?t made to move like that fast enough. If I miss, I die.
Pressure on the pad causes pain and fatigue in my thumbs after about an hour of hi level play, my response rate drops, and I get slow and sluggish in reacting to things,
Also I have worn out the diaagonals on countless d-pads from holding down/back so much, and I regularly have to toss the pad out and learn a new one, which affects my game each time anyways.

What are people?s experiences of switching from pad to stick? Has anyone successfully made the transition and actually improved their game, and coming from an advanced level on a pad how long did it take to get back to where you were before using a stick?? What am I likely to gain in terms of technical execution, and does anybody have any recommendations on modding the gates on their sticks, or any recommendations (square, octo, circle gates, etc.) on what?s better for playing charge characters like dic??



2-3 weeks ago I switched from Xbox360 Pad (analogue stick) to Mad Catz Street Fighter 4 Arcade Stick.

At the moment I’m not as good as I was on the 360pad but I see more potential and believe I just need more practice.

Here are some of my observations so far:

  • 'Giefs super is a lot easier to perform especially from a standing position but for some reason my normal SPD motions are slower and less precise especially in match situations.

  • BFBF supers are easier.

  • Dragon punches are A LOT easier.

  • I sometimes get neutral jump when I’m trying to jump forward or back.

  • Mashing out of throws and doing fast jabs is easier.

  • Piano inputting to do reversals isn’t helping me much at the moment but I’m working on it.

  • I have trouble with charge characters but I’ve not been using Blanka much.


Hello, i think our level of play was more or less the same, when i was playing blanka against your dic. so i think you may experience the same thing i did when i switched to the stick.

It was a pain in the @$$ for me at the beginning and the worst part for me was loosing against people i should normally destroy with the pad before. This made me change characters because i could’t see my blanka loosing so bad.
So this can become an issue for you too, because as far as i know you now, dic means as much to you as blanka meant to me.
It took me 2 weeks to get more comfortable with the stick but i think it took about 2 months to reach the level i had before i switched to the stick. (I don’t play every day so this might be faster for people who play more frequently)

I have been playing just like you on the SNES pad–>PS1 pad–>saturn pad–>dreamcast pad–>xbox-pad just like you and now with 30 years i’m starting to play with the stick…it is a change, yes and sometimes i ask myself if it is worth all the work, but then after an amazing win i realise that for me it was worth because i don’t plan to give up SF HDR and will be playing it for a long time to come, so if after 2 months i’ve become as good as with the pad imagin my level in 2-3 years ;).
Seriously nobody can answer your question if it will be better for you play or not but think about this way:if you try it and after 2-3 months you still ain’t getting what you want you can sell the stick on ebay and get the money you spend for it.
for me it’s worth the try


i got a stick back in march or so and i think i am now back to where i was on a pad. i know you want some of the OG’s to answer this, but i can tell you that the main improvement i’ve gained from stick is getting reversals and other strict single frame timings with piano inputting. that alone makes the stick well worth it. you need to be able to reverse when necessary to win against top players. there are a few different ways of holding the stick and that is going to be the most important and difficult thing for you to figure out. after months of aggravation, and swearing that the stick is slower than a pad…i switched to using it with my palm facing up and the shaft between my ring and middle finger…after a day or so of training, and forcing myself to play like that, i could feel i was getting faster and able to land DP’s in spots where i wouldnt have gone for it before… at first, you’re going to want to use your entire arm when doing moves. heres a video of daigo’s hands i found on you tube… notice how very little arm movement he uses. i think he holds the stick between his pinky and ring finger, but the point is to use fast wrist/finger movments…



Your man S-kill broke it down pretty nicely at the Capcom Unity boards, using accurate and easy to understand examples. (Taken from eventhubs.com). Eventhubs also has a pad to joystick guide on them.

**I bought a Madz Catz Tournament Edition Stick and I don’t like it. **

Seth: Overall, whatever works for you, works for you. If you try a stick and are always just full of fail, by all means play on a pad.

That said, the vast majority of pros, both young and old alike, prefer sticks, as do I. Here’s why:

1. Why is it better than using a regular controller?

Seth: Precision counts for a lot in fighters. Of course sniping seems “precise” in Halo, but fighters really take things to another level, and top-level play requires you to routinely hit 1/60th of a second stuff. In fighters, this usually means hitting very particular directions is key. You can’t just hit “right,” or “mostly right”, you need to hit the dead accurate down/towards diagonal or risk disaster. Sticks are perfect for this, with very clearly defined edges, corners, and a lot of tactile feedback that let you know exactly where you’re at at all times.

2. Will I eventually get used to a joystick?

Seth: Probably. Most do after a few weeks, but if for whatever reason you hate it, you aren’t required to torture yourself forever.

3. I tried using my XBox 360 controller and it felt better and I felt more in control with it rather that my FightStick. Why is that?

Seth: Probably a question of familiarity. A stick is a little like a high-performance automobile. When you’re running flat out, it feels great and responsive like nothing else. If you’ve only ever driven a regular car before, however, driving a high-end racer can feel uncomfortable and awkward.

4. I’m unhappy with it. Should i give it a few days before i sell it on CraigsList?

Seth: You’re unhappy probably because of the issues you already mentioned. If they persist, listen to your fingers and “stick” with what you like.

5. How long does it take to get used to a FightStick?

Seth: I grew up on joysticks, but I did actually make the transition from American-style to Japanese style for the FightStick (I think Japanese style is ultimately better – more responsive, sensitive, but different). It took me about 3-4 weeks until I felt equally comfortable. I did have a lot of experience on sticks already, but my game is more advanced than many other players, so even though I had a headstart in the race, my finish line of feeling comfortable was also further away. Or something.

**6. And most importantly… How does using a stick improve your game?
Seth: See #1 again. In the opinion of most top players, a good joystick is vastly more precise than standard pads. Of course you can do the same things on a pad that you can do on a stick, but it’s easier to do them on a stick because of the level of tactile feedback. This is exactly analogous to the suspension on fast sportscars. For just driving to the store to buy some Cheerios, it’s not necessary, and can even be uncomfortable. For when you’re blasting down the track, however, every little bit of additional “feel” makes a huge difference, so you want it tuned for maximum sensitivity.


Those who say they have a mental block convince themselves that they do. Nobody has a mental block. They just desire improvement over night and if they don’t see that, they become pessamistic about themselves.

Anyway, if you’ve been playing on your pad for that long, adjusting to a stick in gonna really suck. I just use my 360 pad out of preference, but there is a lot more potential in a stick.


Honestly, you should ask Dark Gaiden or Vintage what their take is on switching.


I switched to a stick when SF4 came out. This is after playing on a pad my whole life, since WW. Back in the day when I would go to the arcade, I would get so frustrated and think, ‘if only I could plug in an SNES pad…’

When HDR came out, I didn’t care to try a stick because there seemed to be even less incentive. It’s not like the 90’s with the arcade scene anymore (especially in MI), so I’m not further handicapping myself by using a pad. There’s no longer any functional carryover to worry about. But within a couple months of playing HDR, I had heard a lot about people using sticks. The best players seemed to always use them especially.

So in the spur of the moment, as I was buying SF4, I was like, ‘eh, I’ll take one of these, too’ (an SE fightstick).

It was certainly rough for a while. Everything that was once so natural became foreign and awkward. But after some time, I was right back where I was execution-wise, and soon after that, I became better than I ever was. Now when I use a pad to play fighters, it feels even worse than using a stick was at first.

The biggest improvements for me are ease of tapping/double-tapping, mashing out grabs/dizzies, BFBF supers, 360’s/720’s and pianoing. As far as your problem areas with a pad, I’m certain that they would become a thing of the past after toughing it out through the transition period. All execution errors will be on you, not your controller. Sticks seem more ergonomic as well. I can play with my stick for hours and not get sore (ohhhh yeahhh).

I’m no pro or anything, so it’s not just about being as good as possible, it’s just so much more fun and a better overall experience to play with a stick. Hell, it’s even fun to mess around with it and mod/swap parts, etc. Now I’m thinking about getting a custom one made.

As far as modding goes, if you’re getting a TE, you’re set. All the parts are the best, so just use as-is. That includes the gate. I tried an octo for a while, but went back to square. You can always just order one and try it out, it’s only a few bucks. But I think square’s better for chargers anyway. It’s also more standard, so if you ever borrow a stick or play on an arcade cab, you’ll be good-to-go.

Anyway, that’s my experience as a lifelong pad user who switched.


Since you just bought a TE when you receive the stick don’t play hdr put the game in classic mode and practice all of dic’s special moves. Start on the left side and do scissor kicks. When you can do scissor kicks consistently move to the right side. Do this with all of dic’s special moves.

Then start working on dic’s bnb’s, ToD’s etc. Than you should start getting a feel for the game. The only reason I say to practice on classic mode is because the moves require more precision to perform.


/ / / (Pad soapbox; skip if you like) / / /

I’ve played pads all my life. There are almost no fighting games where I think “man, if only I used a stick…” The only games I have trouble playing on a pad are Marvel games. Otherwise, I competently play Street Fighter 2, 3, 4, Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, CvS, and even crazy-ass Vampire Savior on a pad. And, while I’m not the best player around, I’m sure there’s plenty of players with cred around here that can tell you that I’m far from being shitty.

The trick to pad is to just suck it up and learn it; both sticks and pads have their own sets of challenges when learning to use them. I’ve played on a million pads from SNES to XBox360 (and for those of you who play me online, yes I am using the XBox360 controller, with the D-Pad and not the analog stick. I do just fine), and very few of them are truly unplayable. I think the only ones that are too hard to play effectively on are the Sega Genesis (obviously cos of the 3 buttons, but if the D-Pad is old, it becomes really volatile) and the Dreamcast (super protruded D-Pad = no precision whatsoever).

Some people might like the Saturn style pads; if you haven’t tried them, it’s worth it to try. It has some of the inherent advantages of both pads and sticks, but it comes with its own set of problems. Personally, I don’t like them because I find it hard to hold them and I don’t like the buttons so close together. But, a lot of people swear by them, so if you really don’t wanna switch to stick, you owe it to yourself to try one at least once.

There are definitely some advantages that stick has over pad; but, there are also advantages that pad has over stick. Most people prefer the advantages of stick, and I personally don’t. Find out what works for you, but don’t believe a single person who says you can’t do it; that’s just horseshit.


yea same here, I’m always a Dpad player no matter what SF game I play, I just easily adapt to it, even on the XB360 Dpad, and piano’ing reversals on it. (I know, its funny) I’ve tried arcade sticks on and on, and it always fails me.

I just do not like arcade sticks, it feels very awkward to me. My arcade stick just collects dust. Probably the only reason why, is because I grew up playing SF on home consoles, not at the local arcade. I dont worry too much about Stick advantage>Dpad. In my opinion, its all about the player who feels whats a better choice based on how effectively they are with it. But that choice is overwhelmingly the arcade stcik. I am part of the much smaller crowd who uses a Dpad when playing SF, (comfortably, lol)

Give both a try, test how well you can play it, then decide


I started out in HDR playing on Pad but after getting my first stick i will never ever go back to it.

I have exclusively pretty much played Charge characters due to my crappy execution and it’s tremendously easier on Stick than on Pad.

Movements are easier when it comes to rapidly switching between forward and back and similar making you able to charge faster with more consistency.
And B,F,B,F supers are extremely easy to do.

Beyond that the button layout is also superior especially with the advent of being able to do 3 button moves with only 2 buttons. Which means you can easily do piano inputs of the 2 button versions.

When i started out i kept wanting to go back to Pad because i felt i could do better with it.
I think alot of that thinking goes back to the concept of “nostalgia googles”.
Believe they were better than they actually were. Atleast that is how it was for me.


I personally prefer stick and every time I go back to pad I suffer from tremendous amounts of thumb fatigue. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that bad when I started playing on pad, but at the same time I do remember thumb fatigue being an issue. That said, I think SFII is the most pad friendly fighting game I can think of (okay, maybe Ergheiz, too). A lot of games have dashing which is where most of my thumb fatigue came from. 3S also had kara throws and kara demons, both of which are hard on pad (unless you play overhand, which I do not). FADC ultra seems like it would be painful. Anyway, my point is SFII lacks a lot of the input intensive game mechanics that other fighting games have. So I while I think pad players are at a disadvantage, I think their losses are minimized in SFII.


ST ya

HDR doesn’t matter

it depends on the game past SF2 also

keep in mind the guy who won SC4 at evo plays on a pad, and thuggish who won nats can play on either pad or stick just fine

and the guy who won tekken 6 also plays pad


I just don’t use a lot of motion characters, I’ve always used charge characters… Vega, Chun, Blanka, Honda…

Would the fight stick actually make a difference in this case???

I can see the connection for motion characters, like Ryu and his dp, that is exacting… but would that apply to the above mentioned characters?


As a pad player, I would have never been able to do stuff like

Cross up j. short, low short, dash forward, cross up Up Ball

Cr. short, HHS

I can imagine some pad players could do this, but it would require too much digital dexterity for me.

I also don’t think I would be able to perform a charge super as quickly as I could on a stick. It doesn’t happen often, but it helps during those few times you know you need that chip to come out as soon as possible to win the match out of a turtle stalemate.


I played on a PS3 controller for a few months and then bought a hori FS3. I hate the hori jk :lol: but I prefer it over the PS3 controller any day of the week.

I still can’t do srks well on the P2 side, but I think that has to do with some left handed, mind mental thing I have.

The fatigue you mentioned was one of the major reasons I bought a stick, and although I’m not able to do P2 srks well, I can do them with better consistency on this hori than I ever could on that pad.

It only took me about a month to get used to it. Pianoing isn’t as awkward either, and links are easier since you aren’t holding the stick and pressing buttons, you are just pressing buttons. If that last part made any sense whatsoever. :looney:


You don’t seem to have problems DPing me (no homo) from the 2p side. :sweat:

I get what you’re saying. Less things to think about, less ways for the controller to move relative to your button pushing fingers. I agree with this completely.


I have good and terrible days on P2 side, mostly terrible days. It may have to do with my mood idk. I’m still working on it.


The first time i pulled Dic’s super as a reversal to an incoming super from Balrog, who was going for a chip-damage win, I gave the modded SE stick I bought of Ebay a big hug.

no way I would have pulled that off on a pad.