SRK Newbie Saikyo Dojo Arcade Stick FAQ (Read this before asking questions)

Note: If you have newbie arcade stick related questions, please post them in this thread! Please post more advanced questions in Tech Talk!

In the minds of many, arcade sticks and fighting games go hand-in-hand. Naturally, many players who are new to the fighting game community find they have many questions regarding Arcade sticks. Be it that the Newbie Saikyo Dojo is intended to help new players get a knowledge foothold in the community, it seems fitting that many common questions can be addressed here. SRK also has a very tech savvy section known as Tech Talk, which you might want to participate in as well. It’s personally one of my favorite portions of SRK, but it’s often a bit overwhelming for new users.

With that in mind, the purpose of this guide is 3-fold:

  1. To answer frequently asked arcade stick-related newbie questions
  2. To provide a central location for new users to ask newbie stick questions
  3. To provide a primer so that new users are knowledgeable enough about arcade sticks to be able to participate in more advanced discussion in Tech Talk

**Contents: **
Warning! This document is big! You can use the number in brackets and the find feature of your web browser (ctrl + f) to easily find specific topics!

Why use an arcade stick? [001]
Why do you call it an arcade stick, not a fight stick?[002]
What arcade stick should I buy? [003]
What are the differences with the different Madcatz TEs?[004]
What is the difference between Japanese and American parts? [005]
**Who are the major arcade parts brands? [006] **
**What is a gate? What should I know about them?[007] **
How do you hold an arcade stick? [008]
What is the standard button layout? [009]
What is Tech Talk? [010]
What is a PCB? [011]
What is stick modding? What kinds of mods are available? [012]
If I wanted to use my stick on a different system, what converters are available? [013]
Cthulhu? Imp? Chimp? What are people talking about? [014]
I want to build my own arcade stick. How do I do it? [015]

Why use an arcade stick? [001]

Simply put, most fighting game fans find them to be the superior control method. The stick itself is generally considered to be more precise and fluid than a d-pad. Having access to six (or eight) buttons on the control panel is also extremely useful for many advanced techniques in a variety of games. Some of the older, grizzled veterans also prefer them as they grew up playing on arcade parts. The “authentic feel” is very important to them.

You should also probably know, when most people first change to a stick from a pad, they find their execution suffers in the short-term. This is totally normal! It takes most people a few weeks of practice to get used to playing on a stick. Spend some time in training mode before considering going back to pad, or altering your stick in some manner. You will adjust, trust me.

That being said, many players do choose to stick to playing with pads. Ultimately it’s a matter of preference.

Why do you call it an arcade stick, not a fight stick?[002]

Arcade sticks are the proper terminology to use when broadly referring to sticks that have arcade parts in them. Fight Sticks are a branded Madcatz product, not a catchall name for arcade sticks. Many of us find the practice of calling all arcade sticks “fight sticks” to be ignorant sounding. We also get mad at those kids who play on our lawn.

What arcade stick should I buy? [003]

The truth is there is no “best” stick. The answer is really subjective. The important thing is understand the differences, so you can make good decisions for yourself.

Darksakul’s What Stick/Controller Should I Buy Thread more or less outlines all of your major choices.

My Cliff’s Notes: Virtually everything less than $60 is more or less trash. The wireless Tekeen stick is horrible. The $60 sticks are fine for beginners. This is especially true of the Madcatz line, as they are easy to mod with real arcade parts. If you’re serious about getting into fighting games, don’t get a cheapo stick. You get what you pay for. The Madcatz TE and Hori RAP lines are both fine, pick which either you think looks cooler.

What are the differences with the different Madcatz TEs?[004]

As of April 2010, there are already a dizzying amount of different Madcatz Tournament Edition sticks available. What’s the difference? d3v did a good write up of that here (check the 3rd post, or read the quote).

Which should you buy? All you really need to know is that the older TEs are thought to have less reliable electronics. Some people find the newer ones less comfortable. I personally recommend you get whichever one you think looks cooler. I know it sounds dumb, but you’ll most likely be happier in the long term with something you like to look at.

What is the difference between Japanese and American parts? [005]

In short, Japanese parts tend to be more sensitive and responsive. American parts typically require more effort to move and engage button commands. People generally view Japanese parts to be of higher build quality. That doesn’t mean they are necessarily “better”, but at this point, I wouldn’t recommend someone new to the scene to start with American parts. Most of the top players Japanese and American players currently use Japanese arcade parts.

On top of that, these days pretty much all of the commercially available off-the-shelf arcade sticks use Japanese arcade hardware, so they are easier to find.

That being said, some players still swear by American parts. The best thing to do is try them both yourself and make your own opinion. Some Street Fighter fans that grew up in arcades also have had a hard time adjusting to Japanese hardware, so still prefer American parts. Personally, I think it’s worth the effort to adjust to Japanese parts.

You might also be interested to know that Korean parts enjoy a niche success in the fighting game community, especially amongst Tekken players. They are generally regarded as pretty high quality, but with a different feel than that of Japanese sticks.

Who are the major arcade parts brands? [006]

The major Japanese arcade parts manufacturers are Sanwa and Seimitsu. Their flagship arcade sticks are the JLF and LS-32 respectively. These days, the only remaining American company worth mentioning is Happ. Even then you’re better off getting parts from iL, the company that used to produce parts for Happ. Fanta is probably the most popular Korean brand of arcade parts.

If you’re interested in reading more, some of our esteemed users have written guides that discuss the finer points of many of the brands of arcade parts.

Paik4Life’s Sanwa and Seimitsu FAQ
EvilSamurai’s iL FAQ

There is a Korean parts FAQ around too, but I haven’t been able to find it since the SRK update. PM me if you do.

New Fight Stick
Info Thread: Rules, FAQs and Tutorials Inside. (READ THIS BEFORE HITTING THAT NEW THREAD BUTTON!)
PC: SSFIV AE - What button configuration should I use?
Looking for a cheap first arcade stick
Madcatz fightpad mmmmm
3x on the left or the right?
I Need Arcade Stick Reccomendations For Xbox 360
I Need Arcade Stick Reccomendations For Xbox 360
Need some newb tips for mvc3/using and modding a stick
Would a different grip help me with this problem?
Need advice: I can't hold an arcade stick right!
Qanba Q2 or HRAP V3 SA
Where to look for the best stick?
Beginner Fightstick Help Please
Is a WWE Fight Stick
Help with MvC3 & Fight Stick
Question about Mad Catz Tatsunoko WII stick to usb PC
New Fightstick!
How much difference does it make? (arcade sticks)
How much difference does it make? (arcade sticks)
Arcade Stick help........
Arcade Stick Help
How important is a fight pad/stick
New to stick modding
Input Videos
Fight Sticks and more
Absolute best arcade stick
Cheap fightstick (beginner)
What arcade sticks do we all use?
Square Gate or Octagon Gate?
Which Fightstick should I get
Which Fightstick should I get
Need help with progressing forward
Arcade Stick help
FADC/dashing Arcade Stick help
Arcade Stick help........
How to Buy My First FightStick
New to stick. Really any difference between low end and high end
Ultimate marvel vs capcom 3
Personal opinions on an arcade stick?
Controller or Arcade Stick
What fight stick to buy...?
Just getting into SF4, newbie button masher asking for advice on how to get started.
Madcatz se modding, i know, this gets posted a million times
Mod cheap arcade stick or buy pricey arcade stick
Switching pad to joystick
Need help with Fightsticks
Brand new to ssf4 any tips?
Stick Transition
Absolute Question and Answer Thread (ASK YOUR QUESTIONS HERE!)
Rebuilding our knowledge base
Arcade Stick Advice
Qanba Q4 or Madcatz arcade fightstick pro
KOF 13 questions
Stick/Mentor Help Please!
Need help playing with arcade stick
Beginner - Challenge Mode Tutorials with Commentary (Not just a Play though)

What is a gate? What should I know about them? [007]

A gate, or restrictor plate, is a part of arcade sticks that limit the movement of the stick. These are a removable part featured on most Japanese sticks. They come in different shapes but not all shapes are available for all brands of sticks. The most common shapes are square, octagon, and circle.

The Sanwa JLF–which comes standard in the Madcatz TE–uses a square gate as its default gate. It can be switched out with a Sanwa produced octagonal gate, and recently Toodles released a custom made circular gate as well. Many new users are initially turned-off by the feel of a square gate and choose to switch them out of an octagonal or circular one.

Personally, if you’re using a TE, I recommend that you just stick with the stock square gate. After learning to adjust to them, most people swear by them. In general, if you’re already dealing with arcade parts, you’re better off taking time to practice than taking time to modify. Of course, it’s still a matter of preference, so ultimately you should use what you feel most comfortable with.

How do you hold an arcade stick? [008]

This question seems to cause people a lot more worry than it really should. I hear people talking about really complicated grip techniques, calling them things that sound like the names of secret handshakes the Free Masons use. It does not need to be this complicated. An arcade stick is not a golf club. It is also not a hockey stick, nor is it a tennis racquet. You are not tied to holding it a specific way in order to gain as much mechanical advantage as humanly possible.

An arcade stick is, however, a piece of gaming hardware. Particularly, it’s a tool that–if you’re anything like me–you’re likely to be using a lot. The key here then becomes comfort. You want a grip that is comfortable to use over long training mode sessions. You want a grip that causes minimal hand, wrist, and arm strain.

How to find such a grip you ask? Simply do as follows:

Put your hand on the stick. Hold it in the way that seems most natural and comfortable to you. Move it around a little bit. Still feel comfortable? Yes? Good. That’s how you should hold it.

As far as buttons go, Japanese button layouts are designed as an ergonomic pattern where your thumb is positioned around light kick, your index finger is on light punch, your middle finger is on medium punch, and your ring finger is on heavy kick. That being said, as long as you are comfortable and can quickly/accurately reach and press the buttons, you’re doing it right. Again, don’t over-think this.

This seems really simple, right? So why does this question get so much more thought than it really deserves? We as human being are pretty lazy creatures. We also like to blame outside influence on our problems. This just simply doesn’t fly with Street Fighter.

I implore you, before you try to reinvent the wheel with a new falcon claw grip or you put a new gate and a half dozen home depot springs on your stick, go practice!

What is the standard button layout? [009]

Before listing the standard layouts, I want to strongly encourage you to use them, particularly if you are playing on stick. When I comes to this sort of thing, do not try to convince yourself that you are a unique snowflake. Having an odd button layout can become a hindrance. If nothing else, you always end up being “that guy who has to change his buttons around before he plays” at casuals. No one really likes that guy.

If your stick is wired in a non-default manner, we forgive you. However, seriously consider getting that looked at.

The standard arcade Street Fighter button layout is as follows:
(L=light, M=medium, H=heavy, P=punch, K=kick)

Many home arcade sticks have two additional buttons, which are generally mapped to 3xPunch and 3xKick (IE, all punches or kicks simultaneously). The default Madcatz TE layout and HRAP layout has the far right 2 buttons as the “3x” buttons, but some players prefer the “3x” buttons on the left. The Madcatz TE Marvel Edition is wired so the “3x” buttons are on the left.

Marvel VS Capcom 2

Marvel VS Capcom 3
(A= light attack, B = middle attack, C = heavy attack, S = launcher/exchange, P1/P2 = assist 1/2)
S P1 P2

Guilty Gear
(P = punch, K = kick, LS = light slash, HS = heavy slash, D = Dust, X = nothing)


(Some GG:XX players map respect in at the “nothing” position)

Note: many players, especially players with older customs, play with sticks with only 6 buttons. You do not need 8 buttons to play Street Fighter well; the arcade versions still only use 6 buttons to this day. Still, a lot of people enjoy having the extra buttons for menu options, whether they use them in game or not.

What is Tech Talk? [010]

Tech Talk is SRK’s own tech geek/guru section. Simply put, Tech Talk is one of the single best resources online for gaming related technology, especially for fighting game fans. Tech Talk has even been cited in the Washington Post Online.

Topics in Tech Talk include custom stick building and modding, arcade cabinets, converters, low-lag LCD displays, and so on. The level of discussion is often rather high. To give you an idea, more than one Tech Talk regular designed the boards used in custom sticks. There is a ton of excellent content there to read if you are interested in the finer workings of the inside of arcade sticks.

Do please try to keep in mind that Tech Talk has been around a while. Most of the common questions that people think to ask have been asked and answered many times. The Intro, Rules, Tutorials & Info Thread is a great place to start looking for information.

What is a PCB? [011]

PCB is an acronym that stands for “printed circuit board.” In the context of arcade sticks, it’s electronic guts of the unit. It is what allows the joystick and buttons to communicate with the game console or computer.

What is stick modding? What kinds of mods are available? [012]

Modding is a term which means modifying. Arcade sticks are composed of three main parts: arcade hardware, electronics which communicate the commands of the hardware to the game console, and a case that holds everything together. Mods can modify any of these parts.

The most common hardware mod is swapping out low quality stock parts with arcade quality parts. This may or may not require modification of the case to accommodate. Sometimes people have a preference for a particular brand of hardware, so that brand is swapped out.

Electronic mods generally involve some sort of work with the PCB. This can include pad hacking and dual console modding. Dual console mods are a popular way of modifying a stick to work with multiple consoles. This is rather helpful as there is no national tournament standard between Xbox 360and PS3. Lately modding buttons with LEDs that illuminate on button presses have been pretty popular as well.

Case mods are generally cosmetic modifications to the exterior of the stick. These include art mods, plexiglass mods, and even simple coats of paint. Although cosmetic mods of this nature might seem frivolous to some, it actually can be very helpful to have a distinctive looking stick at a crowded gathering or tournament (hey, is that my TE or yours?). Here are two art guides recommended by sakabato24:

Making your stick pretty
How to add custom art to your TE

If you’re interested in learning more about stick modding, the Intro, Rules, Tutorials & Info Thread has links to many popular mods. If you have modding related questions, you will probably get better and faster help in Tech Talk.

If I wanted to use my stick on a different system, what converters are available? [013]

There is an awesome and well-maintained converter thread over at Tech Talk. Please refer to it for all your converter questions.

Cthulhu? Imp? Chimp? What are people talking about? [014]

One of our resident Tech Talk geniuses, Toodles, created specialty PCB designs tailored for the needs of the fighting game community. Cthulhu, Imp, and Chimp are the names of some of custom PCBs. His designs are especially helpful in projects needing multi-console support.

If you have more questions, Toodles maintains a thread for his creations over in Tech Talk.

I want to build my own arcade stick. How do I do it? [015]

The long answer to this one is definitely out of the scope of the Newbie Saikyo Dojo. You should know that it often costs more in parts, materials, tools, and man-hours than it would to simply buy a Madcatz TE. Still, to many it?s quite a fun project. Do know, however, this is not a small undertaking, especially if you know nothing about it.

My best advice is to go read up on stick building over at Slagcoin. The content at Slagcoin is very well organized and gives tutorials on how to do everything required for stick building. The Intro, Rules, Tutorials & Info Thread is also an excellent resource. If you make a good effort to understand the material and have further questions, the Tech Teck talk crew will be more than happy to help you.

reserved 12345

Special thanks to Kooper and Kyle over at Tech Talk for their input on this.

This will be periodically updated to make sure everything is covered. If you have any questions, please ask away.

Things currently on the list to improve upon:

  • differences between different Madcatz TE models
  • some basic supergun info
  • basic what stick is in what arcade cabinet info

Valiant effort to cut down on a lot of newbie threads but, I don’t think it will help.

Call me cynical.

However, may I suggest changing the text color of the bolded segments to something that stands out more?

The P in HRAP already stands for Pro, so you don’t have to type HRAP Pro. in Post.
But you just copied protomanSTi, so it is his fault.

And other funny typing things like, "I can be switched out with an octagonal gate, but not a circular one (at least, without modding a gate)."
Or missing spaces between words.

But you’ll fix those.

Thanks for catching those.

Unfortunately, the longer I live in China, the worse my English writing is getting. I can’t myself writing “that” when I mean “than” a lot. =/

I think I got most of the problems with spaces? I wrote this in word, so formatting issues occur after copy/paste.

Hey Starcade RIP, great sticky. Looks way better than my feeble attempt. I’d also like to suggest a few links if you mind putting them up on your thread :
d3v’s Making Your Stick Pretty : A Custom Stick Art Guide/Tutorial
ProtomanSTi’s How to : Add Custom Art to Your TE Fightstick and Swap Simple Options

This is for some Arcade Stick Art FAQs. Hope this helps.

As a long time lurker of SRK just now getting into the fighting scene (getting a Madcatz TE this week), this thread is a big help. Thanks, OP!!

Read through all of this and now know just what stick I want to get, so that isn’t the question, the problem is, here in Canadaland, you can’t get a Madcatz TE stick for as cheap as in the US. On, they’re $100, which is a wonderful deal, while on, they’re $170, retail. Now, after just purchasing SF4, preordering SSF4, and being stupid and buying a crap Intec $35 dollar stick, I’m low on cash.

Is there any way I can save that dough and find one for $100 available to Canada?

a local EB games had a Round 2 for $145

Nevermind my comment, after a couple days of searching (not straight), I found a guy willing to sell his almost new one he barely used. He said the HK was a bit sticky out of the box but if I find it a problem, it’s only one button to replace, and I’ve heard TE’s are easy to interchange buttons.

Do the PS3 Hori sticks work with PS2 games on backwards compatability PS3s?

Like, say, could I use a Hori stick to play KOF XI (PS2 game) on my PS3?


The HRAP line does, yes. I’m not sure have the HFS3.

Not the whole HRAP line.

HRAP V3 does not do PlayStation 2 games.
I don’t think HRAP 3 Premium VLX does it either.

That’s sort of disappointing that the VLX doesn’t do that. At that price point, I expect it to give me a back rub after a hard day.

do you know which Hori does play PS2 games on PS3?

Any HRAP 3 does without the Vewlix layout for sure.


HRAP Street Fighter IV
HRAP BlazBlue
HRAP Tekken 6

Sorry if this is the wrong thread. I think it belongs here, though.

What’s the difference between the round 1 and round 2 TE sticks?
Amazon has the round 1 for 100 dollars, and the round 2 for 130.
The casing looks the almost the same, and the only difference I could spot was in the features list:

Round 1: Authentic Japanese-style Sanwa Denshi joystick & buttons
Round 2: Authentic Japanese-style joystick & buttons

So… yeah. Is there a difference?

Not in the parts no.

Supposedly the newer the model the less prone the PCB is to breaking down, but the arcade parts are all the same in every unit (minus color differences).