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The 5 Best Joysticks for Arcade Games: Ultimate Guide

The golden age of arcades is long past, and most gamers nowadays have never even seen one!  For better or worse, arcade games now exist largely in our pockets, on mobile devices.  However, there is still a thriving community of arcade gamers in the hardcore space of online PC gaming, and this list is intended to help those new to arcade gaming to find the best arcade game joysticks available today!

The Top-Rated Joysticks for Arcade Games

Editor's PickJoystickRating
Top PickHORI Arcade Pro 490%
Budget PickQanba Drone88%
Luxury PickQanba Dragon94%
Best CompleteNeogeo Arcade Stick Pro93%
Best
Tournament
Mayflash F300 Elite95%

Top Pick: HORI Arcade Pro 4

HORI Arcade Pro 4

Practice makes perfect, over and over again

TheHORI Arcade Pro 4 tops this extremely competitive list due to it’s perfect feature set, build quality and price.  Hori mastered the art of crafting great arcade joysticks before most gamers were even alive, and it’s readily apparent to anyone who lays hands on their products that they know exactly what they’re doing!

There are a number of variants of the HORI Arcade Pro 4 that offer slightly different layouts, build materials and branding, but they all have the essential features such as HAYABUSA lever and switches, touch panel, turbo mode and button configuration.  

If you want the standard-bearer, the HORI Arcade Pro 4 absolutely hits the sweet spot!

Budget Pick: Qanba Drone

Sale
Qanba Drone

Everything you need without the expensive frills

TheQanba Drone represents the veritable stick maker’s entry-level offering, and it’s pretty impressive that they’re able to offer such a great package at such a reasonable price.  Featuring a stylish honeycomb graphic aesthetic, the Qanba Drone puts in work for you with essential features such as LED indicator lights, turbo functionality and a sturdy, grippy bottom that holds on tightly even when you start putting your elbows into the fight!

Other especially thoughtful features revolve around the portability of this powerful little stick – a builtin storage compartment for the USB cable and super-durable build materials so you can toss it in your travel bag without worry that it’ll break.  

If you want a great, cheap arcade joystick – you’ve found it here!

Luxury Pick: Qanba Dragon

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Qanba Dragon

At the other end of the pricing spectrum

The Qanba Dragon has a lot in common with the budget pick, but it takes everything up several notches to create a truly ascendant arcade gaming experience!  The first thing you’ll notice when you touch this beautiful stick is the build quality.  The body is made of textured aluminum that feels sturdy and premium to the highest degree; the buttons are all firm yet bouncy and feel more durable even than the old arcade cabinets of yore.  

Beneath the aesthetics is a technological work of art as well, as thoughtful features such as one-touch programming allow you to modify button assignments on the fly to ensure you’re always in complete control.

If you want the best of the best and refuse to compromise, do yourself a favor and splurge on the Qanba Dragon.

Best Complete: Neogeo Arcade Stick Pro

Neogeo Arcade Stick Pro

It sounds like a cheap gimmick, but it isn’t!

The Neogeo Arcade Stick Pro is easily the most unique product on this list, and it offers unbeatable value to those who appreciate what it has to offer.  First of all, it must be said that this is a solid, classically styled and thoughtfully designed arcade stick that absolutely nails the landing.  The full gamut of expected features are here, and there is nothing to complain about.  If this were merely an arcade stick, it’d be a solid deal at the asking price, but it also comes with 20 built-in SNK arcade classics!  That’s right – this stick doubles as an arcade!  

There’s a lot more to say about the Neogeo Arcade Stick Pro, but the most pressing is to simply ask why you haven’t bought one yet!

Best Tournament: Mayflash F300 Elite

Mayflash F300 Elite

All business and all play at the same time

The Mayflash F300 Elite is an ideal joystick for fighting game pros who need a no-nonsense, tournament-quality stick that is rugged and portable.  What this stick lacks in personality, it makes up in functionality – the durable body is complimented by classic Sanwa switches, detachable usb cable and extra buttons for the road, just in case things get rough!

This stick may be a sleeper, but don’t sleep on it!  It should be noted that this stick also has an especially great price that makes it a knockout value.  If you’re serious about arcade games, this one should be a top consideration for you!

What to Look for in a Joystick for Arcade Games

The are a wide array of arcade games and joysticks available – these are the factors you’ll need to address in order to narrow down what’s best for your needs:

Versatility

There are such a massive range of games that fall into the “arcade” category, and they have a diverse array of joystick needs – thankfully, it’s not especially difficult to find one that does all of them justice!  Make sure you get a stick with lots of buttons and options!

Durability

You’re going to be positively punishing this poor thing, so make sure you buy one that’s built to last!  Rest assured that all of the joysticks on this list are designed for long-term use by serious gamers.

Price

Good arcade joysticks don’t need to be expensive, but they certainly can be.  Unless you’re a collector or you have especially eclectic tastes, you should be able to get a stellar stick for a down-to-Earth price.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are some of the most common questions users ask when choosing a joystick for arcade games:

Why buy a joystick instead of a controller?

It largely boils down to personal preference, but there are plenty of circumstances in which a joystick is preferable. As a rule of thumb, if a game can be defined as a “button masher” and requires the use of one or fewer analog sticks, it’s a prime candidate for joystick play!

Are wireless joysticks any good?

Wireless technology has dramatically improved in recent years and the associated latency is virtually non-existent on new, high-end models. That said, you should continue to steer clear of budget wireless joysticks!

Other Joysticks for Arcade Games We Reviewed

We looked at two other joysticks for arcade games. Even though they didn’t make our top 5 list, they’re still some of the market’s best.

Mayflash F500 Elite

Mayflash F500 Elite

Another professional stick at an amateur price

The Mayflash F500 Elite is yet another solid stick from the brand that doesn’t have enough personality to really stick out, but also does such an amazing job that it doesn’t really need to be flashy!  This is a great choice for super-serious gamers.

Nacon Daija

The Nacon Daija is something of a runner up to the Luxury Pick, but it’s moreso just a highly customizable professional stick that lets you tweak virtually all aspects of it’s minutiae in pursuit of crafting a stick that is truly yours.  If you can afford to lay down some serious cash for a hobbyist stick, this is the one for you.

Last Updated on January 23, 2021