Tech Junkie: Fight Pads and Fight Sticks -- How Do You Score Combos?


Posted March 11, 2011 - By Kevin Kelly

Tech Junkie: Fight Pads and Fight Sticks -- How Do You Score Combos?

Gaming is nothing without the gear, and Tech Junkie takes video game tech, peripherals, add-ons, doo-dads, gizmos, and gadgets and puts it through the wringer. We'll tell you what we like and dislike, what's worth buying, and what you might want to pass on. One person's plastic junk is another gamer's treasure.

If you're into fighting games like Street Fighter or Marvel vs. Capcom, then you've probably graduated beyond, or thought about upgrading past, a normal controller. After all, these are the very things that nerds gather to do battle over. In our own Nerdfight pitting Sticks against Pads, Ernie Moreno represented the Pads corner, while Matt Keil stuck it out for the Stick. 


Tech Junkie: Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Fight Sticks and Pads »

But, when it comes right down to it, it's all about personal preference. If you've found that the time has come to move on past the normal controller, then you'd do well to listen to Tech Junkie and decide which one is right for you. Either way, you'll know that one of these pieces of plastic will ultimately help you unleash the macho in future fighting.

Tech Junkie: Fight Pads and Fight Sticks -- How Do You Score Combos?

Marvel Edition Versus Fighting Pad
Company: PDP
Platform: Xbox 360
Price: $39.99

This bargain-priced Fighting Pad won't set you back like an Arcade Fight Stick will, but you'll also be missing any Capcom artwork, as this thing is only licensed by Marvel. However, its bizarre shape and construction make it worth picking up and checking out if you're a lover of the Pad. The extend left-hand grip allow you to hold the controller comfortably, while wrapping your right hand either underneath like a typical pad, or allowing you to pound the buttons arcade-style. 

What this controller offers you, besides affordability, is an unorthodox shape that actually works perfectly for fighting games. The placement and design of the stick allow you to perform moves with arcade-quality precision, while the arcade style buttons work well for top-pounding combos. The select and start buttons are tucked away on the back so you won't accidentally hit them during play, although you won't find turbo buttons or lock switches either in order to keep the cost low.

We put this stick through the paces in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and it managed to impress us on almost every level. Besides being a bit loud, and having a learning curve for proper placement in your hand and making the stick listen to us every time, we enjoyed it. One puzzling design choice, however: why'd they place the stick directly on Spider-Woman's rear end?


  • Buttons are very responsive 
  • Crosspad/stick is a nice hybrid
  • Nicely balanced controller despite odd shape


  • Stick occasionally has problems registering moves
  • Buttons and stick are loud, telegraphing your moves to your opponent
  • No PlayStation 3 version

Tech Junkie: Fight Pads and Fight Sticks -- How Do You Score Combos?


MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3: Fate of Two WorldsArcade FightStick Tournament Edition
Company: Mad Catz
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Price: $159.99 (limited run of 5,000)

In the debate of pads vs. sticks, arcade sticks usually beat the pads into submission based on the sheer weight of their baseplates alone. This beast from Mad Catz is no different, although it's actually virtually identical to the last edition of the stick. They've just updated the artwork to include characters from Marvel vs. Capcom 3, although even those just cover roughly 25% of the entire face. We want more Marvel and Capcom characters to decorate this thing for maximum awesomeness. After all, you're really buying this for that art, as chances are high that if you're into the stick factor, you probably own the previous version already.

What the stick offers in addition to quality controls is a control panel in the upper left-hand corner that activates turbo, lets the stick function as a right analog stick, left analog stick, or the D-pad. There's a home button located here as well, but the start and select switches are stuck on the back of the unit. However, here's where things take a turn. Mad Catz' own Type S Street Fighter stick had a lock switch that disabled the control panel, as well as the start and select switches on the back. Which is prudent, because you don't want to accidentally bang one of those in a tournament. However, this lock only shuts down the control panel, leaving you free to pause menu yourself out of a game. Not sure why they used the old lock switch.

But, beyond that, this stick functions like a champ, and the all-black design looks very impressive when you lug it into a showdown. It feels like it was torn out of a solid arcade cabinet, and the buttons and stick are beautifully responsive. With a plastic compartment in the back for cord storage, this is worth taking with you for that extra edge. Yes, you could buy four fight pads with what you'd spend on this (if you can find one), but that's when you have to ask yourself if being the very best Tron Bonne player in the world is worth it. Of course it is.


  • Features Sanwa Denshi Japanese ball-top stick and incredibly responsive buttons
  • Built like a tank and feels like a real piece of machinery


  • Lock switch only disables upper left-hand control panel, not the Start and Back buttons. Meaning you could still accidentally pause the game
  • Artwork doesn't cover the entire stick 
Tech Junkie: Fight Pads and Fight Sticks -- How Do You Score Combos?


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