The Good D-Pad

I think I have heard at least one person say of every game controller of the last 20 years that the D-Pad, if it has one, could be better. People usually cite the D-Pad feeling “squishy” on these, or some variation of that idea.

What controllers had good D-Pads? And what makes them good?

Luffy winning Evo with a PS1 pad and Gus setting records in Mushihimesama Futari with the stock XBox 360 pad has convinced me that a good dpad is one you're used to.

I really like the new Xbox dpad. Haven‘t used it enough to say if it’s an all-time favourite yet, but so far it's been comfortable, clicky and precise.


personally dislike using a dpad on a contemporary style ps/xbox shape two stick controller and have switched to a dpad/4 face button 8bitdo for any 8 or 16 bit games. Just don’t like the feel of having my hands too far apart or having sort of reach over or around a stick. So I would add that overall layout is important to me in a dpad controller

Big Dual Shock 4 fan myself. Also a huge Guilty Gear fan, but I switched to a joystick about 10 years ago. :laughing:

Interestingly enough, I have a buddy who says that a lot of the US _FIFA_ community is looking to move from XBox to PlayStation this generation partially because the XBOne's controller is notorious for not holding up wear wise. I've never heard that before and my 6 year old DS4 D-pad still can play _MegaMan Legacy Collection_ or whatever retro platformer I'm playing. I've heard several other people who are heavy use-case complain about the DS4 but I think that is more from the stick side of it rather than the D-pads.

Hands down best dpad I‘ve ever used is Vita but thats also mostly cause I’m used to it! It also depends on the game doesn't it?

Nowadays I usually use this 8bitdo sf30pro cause it has enough buttons if I need to use sticks but
The dpad is supreme

Also im not gonna lie I kinda dig the "dpad" on this 8bitdo lite (I kinda prefer the 4 buttons kinda akin to the c buttons on the n64 speaking of...)


And I gotta say this beast isn't great, things break and get bad fast, but I really love the c buttons and the slightly raised/curved area in between the c buttons

@antillese#9945 I like the DS4 a lot. It's my default emulator controller, as well as my standard Switch controller when playing in docked mode (using an 8bitdo adapter).

After all the non-fake PS3 controllers vanished, I learned my lesson and bought a couple of spare DS4s to keep in their boxes until such a time as my current ones wear out. They show no sign of doing this! It is a very well made controller.


@Just_Walli#9948 Nowadays I usually use this 8bitdo sf30pro cause it has enough buttons if I need to use sticks but

> The dpad is supreme

Weirdly, I wasn't a fan of the dpad on the SF30 Pro. It just never felt right to me. In spite of looking exactly the same, the dpad on the iBufffalo feels completely different to me, and I love it.

Yeah, I have a SNES style 8bitdo and a Saturn style one. I feel like either of them are pretty weird, at least for fighting games, but both are about a billion times better than any of the other options on Switch

I like the feel of the xbox one d-pad but don't like the positioning

Seconding what @Just_Walli said. The Vita has the most satisfying-to-use and comfortable d-pad I've ever encountered. Clicky and responsive, like a good d-pad should be.

@whatsarobot#9977 I do like a clicky D-pad. I wonder why more companies don‘t make their D-Pads clicky. Perhaps it’s more expensive.

The DualSense Dpad is pretty darn great.

can't believe i had to scroll down this far, but this is the best d-pad for 2d games by a fairly wide margin -- like everyone has said, you can get used to anything, but the OEM Sega Saturn pads are great, perfect for STG, fighting games, or Tetris Plus.

I really love the Gameboy Advance SP dpad. It provides a nice click but is thin so you can do quick movements. I also like the indent circle around it. Like the rest of the GBA it might be a little small now.

A lot of the 3DS dpads have very good feel but are often a bit loose and have bad placement, meaning you have to hold the console a bit weirdly.

@beets#9997 Probably built very similarly, the dpad on the DS lite was great. I‘ve been playing a bit of it the last few days, and I’ve been really shocked at how good everything feels.


@Neko#9996 the OEM Sega Saturn pads are great

The dpad on the Saturn is really good, I feel ashamed that I forgot all about it (especially since I've been playing on one at least once a week lately while going through some Saturn titles I missed in the day).

@James-#9950 I have this same controller and it‘s the bee’s knees. The D Pad is great. it‘s perfect for emulators. It’s also only like $8 and comes in fantastic packaging.

@marlfuchs2#10039 can you still find them that cheap? I bought a spare a while back, but I kind of want to grab some to send as gifts to a couple friends that also emulate a lot. I haven't seen them for that price since the first one I bought.

@James-#10069 holy cow how are they like 40 bucks on amazon?!? They must have stopped making them.

I really thought this thread was gonna be “everyone knows the best d-pad is on the saturn, but what other ones do people like” so I too was surprised we got this far down before the saturn got mentioned. It's good for several reasons:

  1. precision. everything just feels like it goes where it should, and the amount of give is perfect.
  2. comfort. doing a million dragon punches as a scrub like myself will not tear up your fingers (the ps split pad 100% will)
  3. texture - the slightly rough (I guess I'd call it matte) texture makes it easy to grip.
  4. shape - the slight rise at the end of each cardinal direction helps you know exactly where you‘re hitting and how much pressure you’re applying (not that that matters) and the little diagonal arrows subconsciously help orient you in that regard as well

then on top of that you've got those hot buttons and clicky RL pads.

The only other "d-pad" that comes close is the neo geo pocket stick that clicks to let you know when you've slotted in to the right zone, and which you never have to let go of so is even easier on the thumb. It's astounding that it's never been properly replicated.

Vita's d-pad was a beautiful clicky wonder.

The Neogeo Pocket Color and its d-stick is fantastic! I never used an original Neogeo pad so I don't know how it compares.

Along the same lines, I like the PS3 Versus Controller with its clicky d-pad. I imagine its what the Neogeo feels like to use? The only problem with the one I have is that the back plastic is gooey now and dust is just stuck on it forever.

And just recently I got the Razer Raion controller, and its clicky microswitch dpad is really interesting because it behaves like a stick but in dpad form. The center is a deadzone, and can only read inputs when rolling around the outer rim like a stick. I like it a lot! I haven't tried using it for non-fighting games though; it'll probably be really weird to play platformers with it.

I also didn't mention the Saturn dpad because it's good but I like these clicky dpads way more.