There’s plenty of arcade sticks to choose from in the Playstation’s camp. So many, in fact, that I’ve split the cheaper ones into their own category.
If you’re on the market for a cheap arcade stick, you can find cheaper fightsticks here. But don’t neglect these pricier ones; there’s always something you have to give up when you go the budget route.
If you want to compare the features of each stick in a handy table format, check the Arcade Stick Comparison Chart.
Hori Real Arcade Pro 4 Kai Review
Hori RAP4 Kai is one of the most popular arcade sticks currently, if not the most popular. Hori stepped up their game with their own Hayabusa buttons and joystick; they are on equal level with the “industry standard” that is Sanwa. It’s merely a matter of preference if you prefer Hayabusas or Sanwas.
Hayabusa’s low-profile, short-throw buttons are very responsive with a short activation distance. If you’re the type of player who rests their fingers on the buttons, that might cause accidental presses until you get used to the buttons.
RAP4 Kai is the cheapest of the so called quality arcade sticks, and is often recommended as the first “proper” stick. RAP4 can often be seen in fighting tournaments. It’s also easily moddable with snap-in type buttons if you prefer Sanwa parts. The case has a pleasant slope for wrists, it’s easy to carry thanks to its handles on the sides, and it has a good medium weight to it.
It has a touchpad, but it lacks a headphone jack. Rest of the buttons are hidden on the right side of the case, under the little carrying “lips” on the sides. Artwork is glued to the case, so it’s not easy to peel off and change.
This stick is offered in different colors: black, white, red, blue. White especially stands out in my opinion.
If you want a superb fightstick, but don’t want to be dealing with modding, Hori Real Arcade Pro 4 Kai is a great option that won’t completely break your wallet.
Read the full Hori RAP4 Kai review here.
Hori Real Arcade Pro.N Hayabusa Review
Do you want a more box-like case with plenty of space? RAP.N is Hori’s most recent additions to the arcade stick market. As the name suggests, it sports Hori’s own Hayabusa parts; smooth joystick and highly responsive buttons. But joystick and the 30 mm buttons are easily moddable.
What makes this stick a bit unsual one is the button layout; it uses the Noir layout which is not common here in the Western market. The buttons on the right are in a slightly different position, making a harder curve downwards. Some find it better especially on games like Tekken where 4 buttons are needed most.
It has a headphone jack, touchpad on the back, and rest of the buttons are laid out on the front panel instead of the side. The case’s surface area is bigger than on RAP4 Kai, and it weighs a bit more. There’s no more convenient carrying handles unfortunately.
RAP.N Hayabusa is a sure performer, and is as warmly recommended as RAP4 Kai – they cost about the same too. Which design do you fancy more?
Read the full Hori RAP.N Hayabusa review here.
Hori Real Arcade Pro Tekken 7 Edition Review
Essentially exactly the same stick as RAP.N Hayabusa above. Tekken 7 Edition came a bit earlier than RAP.N.
There’s just two notable differences:
RAP Tekken 7 Edition only has four small rubber feet at the bottom plate, while RAP.N has big rubber pads covering most of the bottom plate.
The practical difference?
The big rubber pads at the bottom of RAP.N helps to prevent the fightstick from sliding on your lap. If you don’t hold the arcade stick on your lap, it doesn’t really matter either way.
The other difference is the Tekken 7 branding. If you love the Tekken artwork, but are bothered by the small rubber feet used on it, I’m sure that’s something anyone could fix by themselves by attaching some kind of rubber pads on the bottom plate.
Razer Panthera Review
It’s big and somewhat heavy, but customizable box with premium quality Sanwa components. There’s a gentle slope at the front for your wrists, and overall it’s a really spacious case.
What makes this arcade stick differ from the pack, is its customizability. The top cover is openable with a push of a button, and hydraulic bars will keep the cover open. Inside you will find a place to stash the USB cable, an optional bat top joystick, and a screwdriver. Last but not least, easy access to changing the buttons and joystick, if you so desire. Very cool!
Most buttons are placed on the front panel, including the touchpad, but Options and Share buttons are on the right side of the case. Button layout is Vewlix, and the buttons are slightly closer to the joystick than on Hori’s RAP Kai fightsticks. Unfortunately there is no headphone jack.
Normally manufacturers say you void the warranty by modding/opening the case. That’s not quite so with Razer; Panthera is marketed as moddable, and as such they allow you to do basic modding without voiding the warranty.
From Razer’s FAQ:
“What kind of modding is acceptable without voiding the warranty?
Basically anything that does not involve opening and modifying the PCB.”
Panthera would get a perfect score for modding, if not for the artwork; it looks to be glued and is not easily swappable.
The USB cable is detachable (but has a proprietary connector), and it’s also threaded, so it should make it more durable.
Qanba Obsidian Review
This simple, yet amazing-looking slab-like arcade stick stands out with its glossy black surface, metallic balltop, aluminium panels and LED lighting on the sides.
The unibody design with the slope at the front reminds me of Hori RAP4. Compared to RAP4 though, Obsidian is quite a bit wider and heavier, so it’s not very comfortable to be carried around. While the design is aesthetically very pleasing, the glossy black surface is unfortunately a kind of a fingerprint magnet.
The joystick and buttons are made by Sanwa, so many people will feel right at home with this, and find no need to start with modding after purchasing this stick. But it can be done with this stick as well. Artwork isn’t easily changeable, as you have to remove the plexi panel and replace it with a new one that has your custom art in it. But come on, it already looks so classy that there’s no need for that.
While Hori’s RAP Kai models here in the West have positioned the joystick further away from the buttons, Obsidian’s joystick is closer to the buttons. Rest of the buttons are in the front panel, and touchpad can be found from the back of the joystick, just behind the buttons at the top.
There’s a cable compartment at the front, a headphone jack, and some lights. The LED lights on the sides can be turned off, kept permanently on, or made to flash every time you press a button or use the joystick. The flashing lights won’t blind or distract you, as the LED lights won’t hit your eyeballs directly.
Want an awesome fightstick that is ready to go, no modding needed because it already has your favorite parts fitted? This could be it. Qanba Obsidian is a very solid arcade stick, looking and feeling premium. It has a tad higher price point than competition, and is not easily acquirable in Europe.