SF4 Controller (Gamepad vs. Stick) Comparison

It’s been discussed over and over, what’s the best way to play SF4? You have those who swear by gamepads and those who say joystick. Obviously it ultimately boils down to personal preference.

Today I stopped by the “local” arcade to kill some time before dinner with the family. It wasn’t the greatest arcade in the world and it’s slowly improving. The selection was slim as far as fighting games go. They did have “system rentals” where you pay 4 bucks for 30 minutes of game time with the system of your desire (Wii,360,PS3). Originally I had little desire to mess with that and went straight to the SFA3 (I’ll get to that experience) in a minute. After a round or two in SFA3, I decided to plop down with SF4 on the PS3.

Why would I do that? Especially since I already own a 360, SF4, and a Tournament stick.

Well, truth is, the last time I used a Playstation controller for a fighting game was about a year or so ago. Playing 3S on the PS2 and consistently (and I mean 1 win with 50-75 losses) losing to my friend (He played as Akuma, I was Ryu, and that was how it was, stubborn I know). Since then, I hated Akuma. Anyway, while owning SF4, I haven’t really played it with the 360 controller other than playing in the Gamestop Tournament and once or twice at a friend’s house. I’ll begin with that.

It wasn’t as bad as I was expected. Using the 360 controller was do able with the shotos and even charge characters (Chun Li…oh how I love you). Was it perfect? No. The D-pad, while considered by most to be the worst one on modern consoles, isn’t as horrible as most have made it out to be. Moves are do-able, combos are possible, and the chances of whiffing moves are not that bad. Is it great? No.

The PS3 controller is another story…

After my 30 minutes with the PS3 controller and SF4, I was begging for at LEAST a 360 controller. I asked them if they had a stick for the PS3 and they they did. The sad part was that I couldn’t use it since it was an employee’s. For some reason, the PS3 controller felt very foreign to me. Before I’m flamed by every PS-style controller lover: I REALLY like the playstation controller, always have, always will. Adapting a little to it after using a stick for hundreds of rounds with the TE stick, it still felt bad. The D-pad was unresponsive, the triggers were a hit or miss, and I wanted to just throw the thing across the room. I even went as far as holding the analog as if it was a ball-top…or something.

Someone decided they wanted to play against me. This was after about 15-20 minutes of “getting used to it” and not winning one set vs the CPU.
I told him I sucked with this controller and probably just sucked at the game in general (My “BP” isn’t very high :P). He smiled and nodded.
His main was Akuma.
Flashbacks kicked in of long nights and losses.
The round progressed, Sagat (Me) vs. Akuma.
I won.
Shocked in awe, I just figured it was luck.
6 wins in a row later; One or two with Sagat; One with Ryu; Rest with Chun Li. I felt empty even with hearing the guy commenting to his friend that I was “good”. I didn’t feel I was playing at my top. The game felt chaotic and uncontrollable.

Now let’s go back to SFA3 experience for a minute. Since receiving the TE, I have played every fighting game with it (Duh :P). I also have very little experience with SFA series in general (limited to the few times I’ve played it with MAME). After the two rounds, I was mad. I knew why instantly.

This cabinet had the bat top and probably whatever American buttons were laying around (it had MvsC2 moveset sticker on it…lol gotta love recycling). I didn’t like it. Those who own sticks could probably agree, you get used to a certain kind of stick. Whether it’s Happ, Swana, etc, it doesn’t matter. I’ve played arcade games since I was five (I’m 26 btw, going on 27 in May :P). I’m pretty familiar with most American style sticks and now hate them all.

For fairness, I’m gonna look at the more recent sticks I’ve used. With the release of SSF2THD, like many, I wanted to relive those days of SF2 at the arcade and SNES. Instantly went out and purchased a X-Box 360 (Well I got it for SF4 too, and Mega Man 9…Bionic Commando Rearmed…). Along with the system purchase, I got an EX2 as it was the cheapest and easiest stick to find. I’ll admit it was different but the learning curve was short for me. In the end, I loved it for the most part. The annoyance came after a month or two with it: you really had to yank on the stick and the buttons lacked responsiveness. It was my only stick and I just dealt with it. If you are cheap and haven’t used an arcade stick in awhile, it’s good place to start.

I’m just gonna say it, I love the TE stick. No problems with it. Buttons are extremely responsive. It seems to be handling the abuse pretty well. The sanwa stick may deter some people but I can’t see myself using any other brand stick (I am looking to get another stick with Seimitsu parts, even if I have to mod it). Sanwa rocks :rock:

In general, an arcade stick makes SF4 (and fighting games in general) feel controllable. If a move wasn’t made, it’s your fault 100%. Of course, not every arcade stick is the same so if you used one and hate it, try a different style/brand stick and see if that works with you.

There is a point to this. It really goes out to those who are interested in getting/creating a stick. The ability to custom a stick to your personal preference or find a stick that feels right to you is a rewarding feeling. The controller is the player’s only link to the game so it’s important to have whatever feels right to you. Just because you use a stick doesn’t making you instantly better. It is, in my opinion, the only way to play a fighting game. It is also my opinion that most American arcade sticks suck but you will find a lot of people who disagree with me. Preference man, it’s all about preference.

To those who swear by the gamepad, you sirs are certifiably insane. I’ll never understand how you enjoy that torture. Yet I’m sure I get my ass kicked every day by a controller player and that makes me sad.

This is just my opinion. Forgive me for all grammar and spelling errors. :looney:

I like your story haha. I agree since I don’t have a stick for 360 I’ve been using the 360 controller and its really not that bad. I honestly think that the analog is pretty easy to use, but I suck, I mean Im an 09 member haha, but I totally agree

So to summarize what you just said:

The tools don’t make the carpenter. Using a pad or a stick is completely subjective… right?

cool story bro.

James Hudson

I have a question.
I’m fairly new to the Street Fighter series, but I have a ps3 and have been using the d-pad. I don’t own an arcade stick but I am fairly competent with the d-pad. However, I’m looking for ways to improve and I’m just wondering whether investing in a joystick would help me get better.

Yes it would hard task on lets say a ps3 pad are easy on a arcade stick like a shoryuken or a 360 motion or 720 motion but you bumped a pretty old thread.

I know but I was checking it out and thought I’d ask anyway.
My only problem is that I want the best stick available (Money isn’t a problem) and I’ve heard that the Tournament Edition is superior (That’s just what I’ve heard), but I can’t seem to find any.


Not a bad deal at all. Of course, if you’d rather buy locally, check your local Gamestops or something. Even if they don’t have them in stock, they can probably special order one for you (friend of mine did this with his TE).

Cool, thanks man I’ll definitely check it out.

This belongs in a blog not tech forums.