Over the past few years, more and more competitive fighting game players ditched their classic arcade stick controllers for those in the Hit Box-style, but just how much of an impact do the different controls actually make?
Fighting game and Street Fighter legend Rohto|Tokido recently began his Fighting Game Laboratory series on YouTube, and his first episode was dedicated to exploring and testing the potential benefits of replacing your lever controls with buttons.
After spending the first part of the video detailing the rules attached to different controllers to avoid tangible advantages (like simultaneous opposing directional inputs), the longtime pro spends the last segment running a simple experiment in Street Fighter 5 to put arcade sticks head-to-head with the Hit Box.
Donning his own lab coat, Tokido uses each controller 5 times to see how long it takes him to perform a forward dash with Ryu and the difference between them.
Using the arcade stick first, Tokido finds himself able to dash consistently in 5 frames.
For the Hit Box-style controller on the other hand, he discovers that his dashes are even lower with an average of 3 frames (and went as low as 2 frames), which seems to surprise the top competitor.
These results aren’t wholly surprising, considering you need to physically move a lever with deliberate motions with your wrist / fingers as opposed to simply tapping the forward button twice as fast as you can.
That 2–3 frame difference admittedly doesn’t mean much to the general playing populace, so the Hit Box doesn’t just invalidate anything else you may be playing on now.
For those looking to take on the best of the best, however, it could certainly be enough to be a relevant variable considering many interactions can be decided by just a few frames.
This experiment is just 1 small look at what sets these controller styles apart from one another, and there’s more potential benefits that players tend to cite on the Hit Box like more accurate inputs and less wrist strain.
Considering that the FGC has been playing on levers for over 3 decades now, we don’t foresee the traditional arcade stick dying out anytime soon, and it’s important to recognize that basically all different controller types offer some small benefit over the others.
Hell, if you look at the CEO 2022 results for SF5, 3 of the top 4 finishers all played on standard console pads, so at the end of the day, play what you’re most comfortable with.
Unfortunately, Tokido’s video is only in Japanese, but it’s still pretty easy to tell what’s going on by using the auto translate feature on YouTube.