My custom button layout, critique of Japanese layout

I now own two Hori sticks, the Tekken 4 and the Hori Fighting Stick 3. The standard Japanese button layout puzzles me. Who twists their hand 30 degrees to the right to push the buttons? The natural position for the hand should be 30 degrees to the LEFT, not right. Is Japanese anatomy different? It got me thinking what my personal idea of the ideal button layout should be. Armed with a compass, some paper, a scanner, my right hand, and Photoshop, this is what I came up with:

The top 4 buttons would be ABCD for SNK games. The bottom left thumb button and the first two in the top row would be G, P and K respectively for Virtua Fighter, the cluster of six in the middle for Capcom fighters, and the left four for Tekken. If you view the image at 90 DPI, the buttons should be actual size (30mm).

Mizkreant - you’d only be twisting your hand right, if you don’t use your thumb to press the LK button.

Otherwise, as dev pointed out, it’s the most natural layout if you just rest your hands on a flat surface.

I prefer the American layout just because I’ve been playing that nearly my entire life, but Japanese is a bit more ergonomic and fits a “natural hand placement.”

Your layout although interesting doesn’t seem very comfortable.

Uh, basically all fighters can be perfectly ergonomically played with the standard 6-button Japanese Astro City layout. That’s the beauty of the layout.

For Neo Geo games: short is A, jab is B, strong is C, and fierce is D. Unfortunately the Japanese do not use this perfect configuration on most Neo Geo cabs but instead use some horrible layout where your index finger hits A instead of your thumb which means you have to use your pinky for D. Not fun. Why do the Japanese insist on making a seperate, horrible 4 button layout instead of simply plugging up forward and roundhouse on their perfect 6 button one is beyond me. This is the only case of where I prefer the American layout to the Japanese one. The American one is just BCD in a straight line and A to the bottom left of B so that you can hit it with your thumb.

For Virtua Fighter: short is Guard, jab is punch, and strong is kick.

For Tekken: jab is lp (1), strong is rp (2), short is lk (3), and forward is rk (4).

I actually see why the OP said that the Japanese layout isn’t natural.

Like many of you have pointed out, if you rest your fingers on a desk in a straight line, the Japanese layout will fit nicely in line with your finger tips. However, most of the westerners have much wider shoulders and longer arms, making it impossible to have both of your wrists in a straight line if you place BOTH of your hands on the stick and the buttons.

That’s why I also believe it’s more ergonomic for people to either have the button layout slightly turned to the left or the buttons spaced further away from the stick (I really hate playing on sticks where the stick and the buttons are so close together). I personally prefer having the buttons spaced further away from the stick rather than tilting the button layout though.

I think it’s cool to come up with your own layout like this. I like the accessibility of the thumb button there. I’d be afraid to make a stick with an unusual layout without testing it first.

mortal kombat RUN BUTTON ftw!!!


The top three buttons and the LK button do have the right natural curvature, but if you want to play anything but SNK games (or maybe Virtua Fighter), you have to use the other two buttons. My hand wants to naturally go towards the bottom right when I move it down. The lower row of Japanese buttons is offset to the left/angled right. The Japanese Astro City layout has the stick and buttons too close together, IMO. When I lay may hands down on the console, they both angle inward, left hand towards the right, right hand towards the left. That makes the lower row of buttons awkward to use with my right hand. Unfortunately, I don’t have the wood/metalworking skills to make a console, so I’ll have to use Hori sticks.

Well, I kind of “tested” it. I printed it out actual size and put my fingers on the buttons. I did this several times and tweaked the layout to get it just right. I also put the paper on top of a 3 ring binder to simulate the housing. This was helpful as the small surface caused my hands to tilt inward as the Japanese layout does.

That’s not exactly what I had in mind, but I guess you could use it for MK.

I agree with that. I always put a wider space between the stick and buttons on my custom sticks. (it’s more confy and you have more space for the artwork!)

However, I am not sure it’s a good thing to change the buttons layout too much…
I understand most of you guys play at home on you own sticks, but if you play in an arcade on a japanese cab, you better get used to the default controls at home too.

^ This this this. ^
Every single time I’ve heard somebody complain about the Japanese layout, it’s because they’re not using their thumb for the bottom left button (of the normal SF six), usually just because they grew up with American cabinets.

You are correct that we do curve our hands inwards for activities like typing on a keyboard, where most of the motion (moving from key to key) is in the fingers,and wrists to a lesser extent. I can see why one might expect the most ergonomic SF button layout to be tilted to the left.

However, our hands point straight ahead of us when reaching out for something like playing the piano, where most of the motion is done with the arm itself. The arm movement you make when switching between pressing top and bottom row buttons is similar to using a handsaw. (Even if by coincidence instead of by design, the American six-button arcade layout is actually more ergonomic than people think! :looney:)

The Japanese layout adds the arc to this idea 1) to accomodate for thumb-use, 2) because your fingers are different lengths, and 3) because your fingers protrude from your hand radially, rather than all pointing straight out at the same angle.

Anatomy! :wgrin:

When I use Hori joysticks my hands do not point straight ahead. They angle towards the center, because the standard Japanese Astro City layout puts the stick and buttons so close together.

I have no problem with the arc. I like that aspect. I just would like the lower row of buttons offset to the right, not the left. It’s just personal preference, but I don’t like using my thumb to press buttons. It’s too awkward for me.

See! I’m not crazy! The Japanese Virtua Stick for the Saturn used almost the exact same layout.


The bottom left button serves zero purpose and that layout serves no purpose for 4button games(SNK, Arcana, Gundam vs series, etc.).

Good try though.

The bottom left button is meant to be used by the thumb, mostly for G in Virtua Fighter. The topmost four buttons are meant for 4 button games.

Yeah but they’re better off suited using the LK+LP+MP+HP instead of that. It’s a matter of ergonomics. Not to mentio LK+MP+HP for VF. that lower button is too low for VF

edit: This is assuming you have the stick level with the buttons like say, on the HRAP2 or on the Sega Astro layout.

It’s not too low for VF. It fits my hand perfectly.

As you said not to far from Virtua stick layout. Pretty much the most verstaile layout there is… Built the Control panel on my cab with it

I get where you’re coming from, I do. I’m willing to bet, however, that–despite the inward-pointing of your forearm itself–you cock your right hand’s wrist to the right to compensate so that the hand itself points straight forward. It’s most comfortable to use that straight forward position when switching “up and down” between the top row and the bottom row of buttons (on the standard six-button SF layout). I have heard the relative proximity between the stick and buttons to be a complaint, and I’ll admit that has some validity to it, even though I’m personally very used to that typical smooshed-together Sega ___ City 1st player layout. Other Japanese candy cabs actually DO have more space between the stick and buttons, and many of them (including the Sega ___ City 2nd player layout) have less of a right-angle to them. Actually, I believe some 2nd player sides DO have a bit of a left-turned angle to them.

In that case, the American layout, or a slight bend added to the American layout would probably be perfect to you: the main six-button cluster on the Virtua Stick you posted is basically just that, so no wonders you like it! :bgrin:

On that note, how on Earth are you playing Virtua Fighter on its proper layout without using your thumb?!! :looney:

I think my hand does tilt slightly to the right, but it’s still ends up more at an angle to the left, not a straight 90 degree angle.

Actually, I think my perfect layout is a reverse Astro City 6 button. The Virtua Stick does it almost right, except the two rows of six buttons are aligned and not offset.

I do use my thumb for VF, but that’s the exception. I think it’s something about it only being 3 buttons that makes it easier. For 4-6 button games, I find it uncomfortable.