At the Japan Amusement Expo 2013, Sanwa Denshi, renowned manufacturer of fine arcade joysticks and buttons, showed off a prototype stick with a directional pad installed on the top of the ball.
I've long insisted that, despite hardcore gamer claims to the contrary, a good D-pad is an overall superior input mechanism to the joystick for fighting games. The D-pad is small and subtle. With just a twitch of the thumb, you can complete a quarter-circle or half-circle motion in a fraction of a second. It's easy as breathing. With the larger joystick, meanwhile, comes a larger radius, which means a greater distance to travel, which means more work, as you put your entire wrist into those circle motions.
The real advantage to using an arcade stick has, in my opinion, nothing to do with the joystick and everything to do with the buttons. You can divide those big buttons up among all the fingers on your right hand, instead of using mostly just your right thumb to manage four face buttons by itself on a gamepad. In this case, the stick setup is faster and more conducive to simultaneous button presses and stringing together quick multi-button combos than the pad. If only there were controllers that could ergonomically pair together these buttons with a D-pad in place of the joystick, I'd be set.
Alas, this non-working prototype looks like the most ridiculous and completely impractical thing ever.
Source: 4Gamer (via Shoryuken)