Programmable controllers


Since fighting game companies still are producing fighting games with lacking training tools, I’m looking into getting a programmable controller for training purposes. I’ve never really researched the options, though. What’s out there, what’s good, and what should I avoid?


You should get a Spital Sangyo just for how rare it is.


There are three basic options.

Premade programmable controller.
The old Hori and Ascii pads/sticks from the PS1/PS2 era. Presumably the spital sangyo as well. Will need a converter to use these on modern systems (which may provide additional issues.) Hard to get your hands on them, although they do show up on auctions from time to time. There are a couple of modern pads featuring programming, but none of them look to be that useful (more just recording functionality).

If you check out maj’s combo videos, these were all done with this.

Modded for you
Groups like and will modify your controller. Haven’t heard much back about them, haven’t seen much achieved with them, happy to be corrected on this.

Mod your own
Myself, CodyK and Rufus have use arduino or similar systems to modify existing controllers. Obvious advantage being you can reprogram it to do whatever you want. Disadvantage being you need to invest some time learning the coding/wiring for yourself. I’ve probably had ~5 people contact me over 5 years asking for advice on how to build them, never seen that amount to anything. I’ve got a youtube channel, as does Rufus, showing what can be done.


Yeah, there is no way “Mod your own” is going to happen, and the price of modded for you is way higher than I expected. This is not looking good. I wouldn’t mind seeing the youtube channel(s), though. Not sure what to do at this point


I wonder if anyone has ever thought of making a board that you could pigyback onto a Cthulhu or other board to give it programmability?


The new PCduino provides a lot of power and probably wouldn’t be too hard to get working for everyone.

Lots of ram/lots of power/onboard SD card.
HDMI out, so no need to build a LCD screen setup (usually the most painful part).
Keyboard/mouse input.

Someone could really make this work.

Can’t find rufus’ youtube atm.


Thought of? A while ago. Found the time to implement? Not even close. :stuck_out_tongue:

It wouldn’t be hard at all from a hardware standpoint. The interface design in firmware is where it’d take some effort.


Possible future Kickstarter/Indiegogo project?


A long while back – when the SNES port of Street Fighter II was released in 1992(!) --, there were several programmable AND pre-programmed control pads released.

The SN ProgramPad was one of the specific models that had the moves for the Street Fighter II characters programmed into it. The ProgramPad was released with several different colored plastic casings in addition to the transparent case variant I once owned. You could also program more moves into it but it must be stated that programming was always “dodgy” and didn’t always execute moves with the timing you wanted and it lacked Flash memory… When you turned the console off, all of the moves you entered into the ProgramPad were erased. Only the existing “burned in” SFII moves were kept.

(Flash memory is fairly recent in videogaming; prior to the Dreamcast VMU, it wasn’t a common component of gaming peripherals. The Sega Saturn and Dreamcast consoles DID have Flash memory but they were the exceptions. The Dreamcast VMU and PS1 memory cards were among the first widely-adopted Flash ROM devices.)

I used the SN pad for a while but in the end I abandoned it for the more comfortable Capcom Soldier Pad and improved dramatically on SFII after I picked up that Capcom pad.

Getting a comfortable controller – pad or joystick – is preferrable to using a crutch that will ultimately keep you from improving. Besides, these programmable controllers aren’t allowed in tournaments.

I only mention the SN ProgramPad because there are cable adapters for SNES controllers that allow you to use them on newer systems and you can usually daisy-chain (with a fair amount of success) different adapter cables to use the old retro controllers on alternate (newer) consoles, too.

I don’t know how expensive the SNES-era controllers are now but they might be cheaper than the Hori PS1/PS2 stuff. More people know Hori; fewer of the savvy gamers/collectors are aware of older-gen controllers that have preprogrammed moves, too. Much of the SNES/SFC peripherals might be cheaper. It should be relatively easy to locate an online shop that sells these items OR Google for them and/or look on an auction site. Goodwill and used videogame stores are also good places to look, too.

Another option, might be scavenging the pads for the PCB’s and wiring those up for homebrew joysticks or modded joysticks. You’d have MUCH better buttons and a joystick lever that’s much better than the D-pad. The only issues with the SN ProgramPad are the grey LCD screen that displays preprogrammed character moves AND moves as you program them in – you might want to keep that LCD(!); in addition, there are three narrow buttons on the ProgramPad you’d have to account for. You use these to store/execute programmed moves and execute the pre-programmed moves.

(((((((( I would just think it’s cheaper to look for what exists now and see how you could adapt it than trying to reinvent the wheel. Ask Toodles how easy the homebrew/third party stuff is to do! Some of his current PCB products were years in the making and a few still haven’t broken even yet… ))))))))


*******Keep in mind these program pads are NOT up-to-date with all the character moves.

The first three Street Fighter II games were ported to the SNES.
The SN ProgramPad had all the character moves pre-programmed for the original Street Fighter II-only…

Anything added to the games after the years/particular games those pads were released for, of course, won’t be in their memory… and, again, any new moves you program in will be erased when your console is turned off.


I had the Sega version of the SN ProgramPad (SG). It was my only 6 button Genesis pad for some time.

As for programmability, as mentioned before, a good robust system would be a godsend for folks who make TACVs.


I’ve decomissioned the youtube channel.

Programmable controllers are relatively simple animals. If there were mass demand for them, they’d be pretty easy to come by. Several of the usual suspects here know way more than enough to build one.

That said, for TACV purposes it’s a little tricky to get them to sync up to current generation games well, and I’m not sure I’d want to be stuck running tech support for the programming interface.

> It wouldn’t be hard at all from a hardware standpoint. The interface design in firmware is where it’d take some > effort.

Firmware is super easy. For example you can run FTDI USB -> RS232.

Here’s the hard stuff:
A programming/control and user interface that will work well for a wide variety of user expertise.
Good game synchronization

And, really, the challenging one on that list is that there’s no demand.


I wasn’t talking firmware from a “getting it working”, I was talking firmware from a “making it self-contained to a degree”; UI/UX design shit. If you want to make this have a good UX for a wide variety of user expertise, it’ll optimally be able to operate by tying into an existing dual-mod, operating with very few (if any) extra buttons outside of the existing ones installed on a stick, and work standalone using a small LCD (with the option to connect to a computer for more advanced/direct programming).

Sync does become a challenge, for sure, but it’s not insurmountable. Demand is definitely the biggest factor as to why I’m not tackling the project; I have too many things eating my time, and the development cost of such a project is way higher than any sort of reasonably expect-able return. As much fun as it’d be. :stuck_out_tongue:


For the record this PS3 controller emulator supports macros:


Wait…PS3…controller…emulator? o.O Howwww? I’m going to have to research this.


I don’t think it would be too hard to hijack the 7th/8th button on a controller and use that as a toggle between stick buttons controlling character like normal when released, and stick buttons controlling LCD/UI when pressed. Actually, this was how I did it on one of my initial versions.


Same as what I had partially working. That said, making it user friendly and scalable (at least to my satisfaction) would take a fair bit of effort. I’m not saying any of this is crazy hard; just development time. I’m a perfectionist, and my time is pretty much always in short supply.


If someone would get onto editing this, it would be a very easy option for programming. 2P version also on that site.