We are here to talk about some of the absolute best controllers for fighting games in 2023.
We wouldn’t call ourselves experts in fighting games, and you won’t see us competing in any tournaments anytime soon.
But we enjoy good combat, just like the next guy. Plus, I personally fight in real life, so… *cool guy alert*
We’ve covered some of the classics here on RetroDodo: Best Street Fighter Games, Best Mortal Kombat Games, Best Anime Fighting Games.
Whatever your favorite flavor of fighting game and whatever your level of skill, what are gonna be some of the absolute best controllers?
Let’s find out!
What Controllers For Fighting Games Do Most Players Prefer?
Before we jump into our choices of controllers, we need to set some ground rules.
What exactly makes for a good controller for a fighting game?
Well, some of the obvious stuff is gonna be precision and speed.
You don’t wanna get your butt kicked because your controller isn’t allowing you to correctly input combos or because there was a split second lag in response after you hit the buttons.
So good buttons with precise input and connectivity with no lag is a must.
And, of course, it would be nice if you can hold the controller for long periods of time without your hands cramping up. So ergonomics are also gonna’ be important.
In many cases, players prefer a button layout that has six front facing buttons on the right side (three on top, three on bottom).
This is because many fighting games, like Street Fighter, will have a light, medium, and strong attack for punches and kicks.
And lastly… a wired controller will always be preferable over a bluetooth connection due to the possible tiny delay on input, which will make all the difference in an intense fight.
So now that we know the rules, let’s see which controllers hit the hardest.
1. Hori Fighting Commander Series
After having read about what most fight game fans are looking for, the main features of the Hori Fighting Commander series will start to make a lot of sense.
The six action buttons are perfect for fighting games, and the Sega Saturn style dpad is great for precision movement.
In fact, the Sega controllers are some of the best first party offerings for fighting games, so it makes sense why 8BitDo has their own Sega style controller (which was also a candidate for this list).
These Hori controllers are an easy transition for any gamers who are used to some of their favorite first party controllers, such as the Playstation DualShock.
HORI has been making controllers for fighting game enthusiasts for many years now. So they know what they are doing. And they know what fans want and do not want.
They have had years to improve on the formula and get it pretty darn perfect.
So as far as traditional controllers for fighting games are concerned, the Hori Fighting Commander controllers are some of the best.
There are versions for PS1-PS5, most Xbox consoles, PC, and even Nintendo Switch and the price of these controllers range from about $30-60 depending on which console version you pick up.
2. PowerA Fusion Wired Fightpad
If you enjoy traditional controllers for your fighting games, PowerA has an interesting option for you in their PowerA Fusion Wired Fightpad.
Like the Hori controllers, the Fusion Fightpads have a Sega inspired dpad and six action buttons.
And for optimal connectivity, these are wired USB controllers.. something that every single controller on this list should have.
PowerA makes a Fusion Fightpad for Switch, Xbox and Playstation… each for $60.
Between the PowerA and Hori controllers, you won’t go wrong. You’re really picking between aesthetics here. But fighting game enthusiasts tend to go for one or the other.
Unless of course, you are more a fan of arcade style controllers…
3. Hori Fighting Edge
Yes, we’ve got another controller from Hori.
But now we are starting to get into the arcade style stick controller boxes. These are the big boys; giant controller boxes that feel like you’ve got the arcade cabinet in your lap.
And if you’re looking for one of the best controllers for fighting games in an arcade style, then Hori Fighting Edge is a staple.
With Hori’s low profile arcade buttons and proprietary quick response arcade stick… this thing will react to your input about as quick as anything can.
And that’s not all. It’s got a ton of customizable options, 3.5mm headset jack, and an aluminum top panel.
One of the best pro model arcade controller boxes for around $199.99.
Hori also makes a Fighting Stick Mini for $50… but that is something for casual gamers and children. If you want the real deal pro level controller box, then the Fighting Edge is the way to go.
4. Victrix Fight Stick Pro
If you’re a fan of arcade stick controller boxes, but have a bit of money you’re looking to spend… look no further than the Victrix Fight Stick Pro.
Victrix makes what is surely one of the most advanced and high-end arcade stick controllers on the market.
This thing has got it all… precision arcade buttons, touchpad, programmable button settings, removable stick for transport, 3.5mm audio jack, aluminum shell, braided usb-c cord.
I mean, is that not enough already?
Oh, and it’s one of the most beautiful controllers on this list.
It’s comfortable, it’s fast, it’s a professional tournament level product.
Yeah, it will run you about $349.99 new, but it’s worth every bit of that.
5. Hit Box
The Hit Box controller by Hit Box Arcade has a gigantic reputation in the fight game community as one of the goto setups for advanced level players.
And as you can see in the photo, this ain’t your average arcade controller.
The Hit Box is a beast of a unit with large arcade style buttons. And you might notice it’s missing something.
The Hit Box is one of the original stickless arcade style controller units that features only buttons… no arcade style joysticks.
There are four buttons for directional movement and the up button is larger and located on the bottom.
This makes for a really precise and intentional button input situation.
There are a lot of videos online that explain the benefits of a button setup like this, but this one by YohosieFGC really covers it quite well:
Stickless arcade controllers have become quite popular in the fighting community, and the Hit Box was the original.
The Hit Box is compatible with PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC, and it will cost you $249.99.
6. Snack Box Micro
If you’re a fan of the button setup of the Hit Box, but are looking for a more modern and minimal feel… Let us present to you the Snack Box Micro by Junkfood Custom Arcades.
The Snack Box Micro is very similar to the layout of the Hit Box, but it is very slim.. much like a modern mechanical keyboard.
It even feels and sounds like a keyboard. And that’s because it kind of is.
Inside the Snack Box Micro are Kailh mechanical key switches. Each low profile button has RGB LED lighting behind it, which is programmable.
And the buttons themselves are swappable for different colors, textures, and shapes.
So if you’re into customizing your controllers, there are a lot of options present here.
The bottom is a nonslip material to keep the controller from moving around too much in your lap or on your desktop.
If you need something that feels a bit beefier, they sell a metal plate for the bottom that will add the weight and make it feel more secure.
The Snack Box Micro works with PC, PS3, PS4, PS5 and Nintendo Switch.
And the demand for the SBM is huge… so if you are interested in getting one for yourself, there might be a bit of a wait. But they will run you anywhere from $200-300 (depending on the model and options you choose) if you do decide it’s the controller for you.
Junk Food Arcades also makes heftier controller boxes, much like the Hit Box, if that is more your jam.
As a bonus, we wanted to mention the Mixbox Controller, as well.
The Mixbox is a large controller box, much like the Hit Box.
But what makes it special is that your directional buttons are actual keyboard buttons (Cherry MX Mechanical Key Switches to be exact), much like using the traditional ASDW keys for movement.
And on the right side, you have eight Sanwa Denshi arcade style buttons.
A Mixbox will run you about $250-$300, and should work for users on Windows, Linux, PS5, PS4, PS4 Pro, or PS3.
They even sell a left-handed model at no extra cost… if you’re one of those weirdos.
It is much less common, but still not uncommon to see gamers using a keyboard at tournaments. Some people have even won tournaments with old crusty keyboards.
And it makes sense… a lot of gamers play on PC and started with what they had… a mouse and a keyboard.
Some advanced level fighters still think of a mechanical keyboard as the best controllers for fighting games.
Something like the G.Skill KM570 RGB ($99) or the Ducky One 3 RGB ($119) will do just fine.
As long as it’s a mechanical keyboard, and you like the way it feels and looks… it’s all good.
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Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.