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Arcade Joysticks Explained

August 3, 2022

Before we begin with the different flavors of arcade joysticks, we must first examine the limitations of an arcade joystick. accomplish… For instance, if would like to play a game of the present like Call of Duty or other similar titles, then you’re better off with the joypad. Apart from optical sticks, traditional arcade joysticks do not have any analogue capabilities. For games like Out Run for example- it’s only full left or full right. There is no way to increase the turn angle. For racing games, we’d suggest the use of an Xbox pad or 360 wireless steering Wheel…

Let’s not go on and get going…

It is important to dig deep into yourself and ask yourself what I want to achieve from the game console. Apart from the inner joy and gaming nirvana – Do you need a great all-rounder joystick for arcade that fulfills its purpose effectively? Do you wish to pay attention to a particular time period?

There’s an easy method to classify arcade joysticks: Japanese and American. If you’ve grown up with arcades in Europe, you’re likely familiar with the American Bat-top type.

If you’re into fighting games, you’re most likely a Japanese arcade joysticks fan.

You’re reading this article because you played arcade games. Consider what you could do with the controllers. Each country had its own favourites. Today Sanwa controls are a common feature used in modern devices. However, back in the glorious days of arcade gaming, it was the location you were playing, which determined which controls were used.A rather interesting controller by Mad Catz, handy for certain titles but not your typical arcade joystick

My Arcade Joystick personal opinion

In Europe, I was accustomed to high-end battop Happ-type arcade joysticks. However, I like the precision and speed of the Sanwa stick for playing an action game like a bullet hell shooter, or a one-on-one fighting game. I’m comfortable playing with the Happ Competition stick which has been extensively used (read in the future) because it is sufficient for my requirements. Every person is unique, it’s just what I need and we will always strive to determine the most effective controls for each person individually.

Some customers want two different styles of arcade joysticks on the same screen. In addition, there is an analog joystick for flying sim/driving games, trackballs, and spinners…

This is referred to as”Frankenpanel” or “Frankenpanel”. It’s a way of trying to accomplish too much and can create a messy mess to play with. It is recommended to make an informed choice about the features you’d like. The less commonly used controls (like analog sticks and so on) are wireless or incorporated into the joypad (either the original or a single pad that can be used for all games, like the Xbox One joypad). For all practical purposes, the modern joypad like the one mentioned above has been carefully made to accommodate the different genres of games.

An arcade joystick isn’t able to perform everything, I’m afraid.

Sometimes, you’d like to play with the first pad (if it’s a unique device, like an N64 joypad).

In this case, it is possible using an adapter that your plug into your joypad, and then the converter plugs into the usb port (which is conveniently located on top of each Arcade Mania machine).

It is impossible to recreate the thrilling sensation of playing games similar to Missile Command without the appropriate equipment, such as an arcade-style trackball. They’re ideal for any Arcade Mania machines

The other notable feature on the control panel would be a spinner to play games such as Arkanoid. These are able to be added to all control panels without hindering the enjoyment of using arcade joysticks or buttons.

In one corner, the Bat-Top
Happ Suzo Competition Arcade Joysticks

One thing about a Happ arcade-style competition joystick is that the more time the joysticks are used, the less flexible the handle gets. This isn’t a problem. The models we show in our showroom feel thin but are still extremely flexible. It does not rebound to the other direction after it returns to its normal position. We will consistently demonstrate the difference to visitors. We carry only the Competition assortment of Happ arcade joysticks. They also make their own Super as well as the Ultimate arcade joysticks, but they’re not as good as the Competition.

You can either allow the spring to loosen naturally or switch to another. Microswitches can also be changed. This will further adjust the tension and actuation of the arcade joystick to suit your personal preference. We have a range of micro microswitches that satisfy the needs of all. We’re also happy to discuss the possibilities with you. Here is a trusty Happ Competition Arcade Joystick, the favourite choice for European gamers

4-8 way changeable Arcade Joystick

By pulling up or twisting the arcade joystick, will change an internal gate to either 4 ways or eight ways. It’s a great sound and, overall, is very effective. But in my opinion, this joystick for arcades is too rigid and doesn’t do the task extremely effectively. If you prefer to play the four ways games, and occasionally the eight-way games, then this is my suggestion although I would say it is not a good choice…Here is the rather stiff 4-8 way arcade joystick, best for 4-way titles

A.K.A. Japanese Sanwa Arcade Joysticks

From the beginning, Sanwa has one distinct advantage that Happ Suzo lacks: rapidly changeable limiter gates. These plates can be interchanged to allow the range of arcade joysticks travel to be different. For instance, the majority of single-player gamers prefer an octagonal gate, so it is possible to feel the ridges in various directions along with a minimum distance that the player can use to determine his or her direction.


If you’d like to focus on the modern-day age of arcade and fighting games, This arcade joystick might be a perfect choice. However, they’re the worst when playing four-way games such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. It’s too easy to make the diagonal accidentally. If you’re looking for that feeling but also the precision, you should look into arcade joysticks that are powered by servos.


Because of the narrow diagonals, this is the best option for 4-way gamers. By twisting an arcade joystick, you can change to an 8-way. The less well-known standard arcade joystick, but it is a great choice for those who love arcades with Seimitsu’s arcade joystick coming in second place in the list of the most sought-after Japanese joystick.

Seimitsu LS-32 Arcade Joystick

For feel, the stick isn’t as rigid as the Sanwa JLF arcade joystick. However, it is it’s not as rigid as the latest Happ and JLW stick, making it popular. It is also a good choice for those who love fighting because of the short travel distance needed to engage the moves. The choice of fighting game enthusiasts- the Sanwa JLF arcade joystick

Welcome to the Next Generation

Servo Powered Arcade Joystick

What arcade joystick can cater to both 4 – and 8-way taste well and also works in combination with the games’ menu program that can automatically switch between 4 and 8-way modes? This is our joystick that is powered by a servo. The joystick was initially an ordinary Sanwa JLW arcade joystick that was upgraded with a servo-powered limiter plate. This servo is commanded by the front of the joystick’s specific interface, regardless of whether the game is 4-way or 8-way. The gear changes accordingly to the proper position.

This type of arcade joystick can be found in the ball or bat-top versions and supports 8 and 4-way gaming that is perfectly suitable for both street fighter fans and 90s or 80s European arcade gamers alike. One of the more expensive options, but certainly the most versatile if this is your thing.The Next Generation servo-powered arcade joystick, the optical Next Gen arcade joystick

Optical Arcade Stick

This is an arcade-style optical joystick. Therefore, it does not feature the microswitch-like feel. Each arcade joystick comes with its internal interface and powers the buttons. What’s the benefit of optical?

It’s analog, of course, which means that it can be used in any game you’re playing – it is appropriate to be used for Out Run, for example, as it is able to gently advance one turn, in contrast to the traditional joystick that is all or none.

It is also possible to alter the rules based on each game. For example, Q-Bert can play in an angle. For games with four ways in which diagonals are unclear, those press can be eliminated using the software included so that there is less chance of error, and you won’t have to blame arcade joysticks for your high-scoring game being reduced!

Customise your optical arcade joystick

The arcade joystick can be upgraded to incorporate a rotary dial that has an emergency button at the top of the joystick for games like Ikari Warriors. There are not many of games that utilize this feature. Forgotten Worlds as well as Midnight Resistance, are great examples of arcade games that have been around for a long time and play as well without the rotary dial at the top.

Users can also apply different restrictor plates to limit the flexibility of movement. The default joystick (without a restrictor gate) has an incredibly large throw, and a lot of users opt for one.

In all truth

Despite that, out of all joysticks we have in stock, these are the least well-known. They’re not as comfortable as the joysticks that we are used to and are accustomed to. They’re one of the most striking however, it’s a bit alien to many tastes. The basic arcade joystick isn’t microprocessor-powered or analog. We all are awestruck by a micro switch’s click and click. However, the ability to program adds to the potential of additional games.

The original arcade from Star wars, for example, runs great since it utilizes a unique flight yoke. The optical analog arcade joystick provides gameplay that’s just as precise, though less authentic (everyone enjoys playing with the first Star Wars arcade controls). It’s a part of the reason the game so enjoyable to play.

The temptation is always to put some of the sticks on an existing control panel with two more traditional sticks. Avoid it, you’ll find yourself in Frankenpanel territory.

Double “Joysticked” game.

There are games like Smash TV and Robotron 2084 which require two arcade joysticks at the same time. In this scenario the game could utilize both arcade joysticks on one of our standard 2- player control panels , to operate as a team for the particular game.

What about the second player getting to participate? Smash TV also known as Mercs is a game that can be played because of the two-player carnage that is optimised for. In this scenario, you can create a new gamepad to meet your partner’s control needs and perform admirably. Naturally, that on our models with four players the two players each have two joysticks.The awesome and inviting Smash TV control panel.

Robotron 2084

When we talk about Robotron In time past, we see purists wanting to experience the feel of the original Robotron Control Panel. Nowadays, the Wico joysticks have become gone. However, we have access to new alternatives that function almost identically to their predecessors from the past.

The majority of joysticks used to serve the majority of games well; However, there are some games with a distinctive stick.    


A very appealing arcade machine that really endure in terms of appearance and playability includes Bally’s Tron. The machine features an extremely unique control panel, a rotary dial and a micro-switched flightstick.

If that’s what you’re looking for, we’ll help you with a Happ sturdy arcade stick and the custom Tron model molding. The imported model is from the USWe can recreate this design. We would suggest it in a hot-swappable layout since this isn’t the most adaptable of layouts. We’ve certainly seen better however.

This is a good example of the lengths that we go to to ensure that you get exactly what you’re looking for from the arcade machine of your dreams.

Every person is unique, and we attempt to cater to this while offering honest guidance so that you are aware of how you can make choices and that you don’t regret your decision.


Most of them are the very early games before JAMMA (Japanese Amusement Machine Manufacturers Association). This is a commonly agreed format, so arcade games could easily be changed much like games on video cartridges. Thus, games from the beginning like Pac-Man or Donkey Kong need bespoke converters to run with the standard JAMMA configuration.

If you’d like an exclusive JAMMA replica, just contact us. There are offices, bars and homes scattered across the world that have some of our cabinet. The major benefit is that it can take credit cards as a traditional arcade machine. There are those who claim that they can, but I’m afraid it’s violating the law… At Arcade Mania, we like to keep our noses clear and honest! In the end, we do business with these firms. Popular brands like Mortal Kombat and Capcom have utilized our cabinets and continue use them. There’s a reason that we’ve been around for this long

In the final

So , these are the joysticks we frequently recommend based on people’s wants and needs. There are many joysticks in the market, like Crown for instance and other Seimitsu joysticks, but we do not use them regularly. Therefore, I cannot offer you an impartial opinion or endorse their various characteristics.

We only use the most reliable parts to fit into Arcade Mania machines and the evidence is in the game :). As a default, customers can select between the JLF or the Happ Competition stick, as the standard, but we also have the other sticks mentioned.

If you’re interested in learning about the arcade joysticks, then visit Slagcoin which lets you dive deep into the details. It’s been awhile since the site’s been updated however the information is the same as it was.

It focuses on not just buttons but also control panel design and provides an excellent overview of basics and do’s and don’ts of the concepts of designing a great control panel.

If you have any questions about arcade joysticks, you can ask us!

So, hopefully, this will clarify the things you may be thinking about. Contact us with any queries at all.

Over the years, we’ve discovered that most users have particular needs for the arcade machine they use. It’s not simple “I would like to enjoy arcade-style games”. We realize that most of our clients have a specific period or type of game they wish to concentrate on. Others want an “all-rounder” therefore, we give you an impartial opinion so that your hard-earned dollars aren’t wasted, and you can get precisely what you’re looking for. Each Arcade Mania machine will be the ultimate arcade machine that will last for years to be.

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