Stop button mashing: 4 arcade stick parts to help your game!
I’ve been playing fighting games for a good part of my double-digit years, but it was only at the turn of the decade where I started to understand the intricacies of playing fighting games – one of which was the decision to use a joystick (or just plain “stick”). I got a cheap one at first, hoping that I could just upgrade the arcade stick parts as I went along.
Fast forward to now, and although I’m sitting happily with a Hori Fighting Edge (which is a beauty, by the way), I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if I decided to spruce up my old stick? Where would I start? And more importantly, would upgrading parts give a better performance to my stick?
So for those who are in the same boat as I was back then (just getting into fighting games, own a cheap stick, looking for better parts to lessen costs), hopefully this short list of parts will level your game a bit more:
PCB – The arcade stick’s heart and soul
This is definitely the best place to start – the stick’s printed circuit board, or PCB, is the focal point within the arcade stick. The PCB manages each the power and input for the stick and buttons by wiring them together through a soldered or a solderless setup. The PCB also dictates the platform/s where your stick can be used.
PCB’s tend to be the most expensive part to buy, but will help you in the long run due to the ability to be multi-platform. If this were the case, I would recommend the PS360+ Multi-console Controller Board. Not only does this PCB feature solder-free connections (wiring can be locked down using mini-screws in the board), but allows the stick to be used on the PC, Xbox, Xbox360, PSX to PS3, and even on the PS4 (although for the latter, a reset is required every 8 minutes to avoid timeouts).
Stick and move!
Next, the actual stick itself. There are plenty of viable options out there in terms of effectiveness and durability. One factor to look into is the stick’s gate/restrictor plate, which is the part that defines the maximum distance the stick travels when moving 8 directions (up, down, left, right and the diagonals in between). Choosing a stick top goes more for preference, such as using either a ball-top or bat-top.
Joystick parts usually come as a whole with the stick, base, pin connector and restrictor plate/gate combined. Sanwa is always one of the better brands due to the overall quality and craftsmanship, with the Sanwa JLF-TP-8YT-SK Joystick being a great item due to being easy to install, having rounded gate and overall compatibility across all fight sticks.
Another really great joystick is the Hori Hayabusa Stick. This recent iteration from the Hori brand has become a popular alternative to the Sanwa JLF, where it uses a combination of a square gate and straight V housing – this makes stick movement and lifespan more precise (the stick travels to a defined side/corner and responds with less effort due to to the convex base) and prolonged (the stick does not overextend itself).
Now let’s push some buttons
Of course, no arcade stick comes without buttons. The great thing about arcade stick buttons is that there are plenty to choose from in terms of colors and sizes! The keys to getting the best buttons rest on the ease of pressing and responsiveness over time.
Sanwa is at the forefront when it comes to buttons, with a recent and popular choice is the OBSFS Silent Pushbuttons. Not only do they come with ultra-sensitive microswitches that respond well, but the inclusion of light foam within the button cushions the plastic-on-plastic buttons sounds we’ve all come to love. Some professional gamers look at silent buttons as an advantage in tournament settings because it prevents their opponents from guessing their actions based on the sound their arcade stick makes. Not only are you limiting noise in your home, but your masking your actions, too!
Finally, you want to ensure that the surface of your arcade stick is protected from grime and sweat from constant usage. This holds true especially for sticks that have custom artwork (no way do we want smudge on our awesome stick art!).
Some arcade stick manufacturers sell their own top panel that is suited to their brand, like Qanba or Eitghtarc. These usually come with custom screws for your convenience. However, if you’re arcade stick does not meet other brand conventions, it’s best to have a top panel made for yourself. Head to your local plastic manufacturer or distributor to see the options that you have. These places have a wide variety of plexiglass options, and can also cut them up to your liking.
Hopefully, these tips on arcade stick parts will help you make your stick last longer and perform better! Now, if you are able to find a brand that also works well for you, don’t hesitate to drop us a comment!
Categorised in: Modded Controllers