Venom Arcade Fight Stick Review
Venom Arcade Fight Stick
Fans of fighting games and arcade classics already know too well the satisfaction of a good fight stick. The satisfying click of the stick, the audible snap of each 30mm button – pure bliss to your discerning gamer. But the biggest problem facing gaming fans is compatibility – one expects to only play PlayStation games with a Dual Shock 4, but being limited to only a single system with an arcade stick – a potentially much pricier investment – feels like a bit of a shame. That’s where Venom comes in.
Venom’s new Arcade Fight Stick has a few tricks on its sleeve which it is happy to announce right on the box – compatible with both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – very fancy! The stick also boasts full customizability, allowing players to open up the back and swap in their favorite brand stick and buttons.
So first impressions upon taking it out of the box – it’s surprisingly small. Not necessarily in a bad way, more compact, and slightly lighter than most fight sticks – some may see this as a negative, but in this situation, I found it heavy enough to not move much in my lap, but small enough to be noticeably easier to store, while retaining a full-size 8 button layout. Not bad at all.
A warning sign comes up when a Micro USB cable comes mysteriously included in the box – curious but we’ll return to this later.
Looking at the Venom Arcade Fight Stick, the body is a similar shape to Venom’s previous officially licensed PlayStation 4 fight sticks – just smaller all around and much lighter. It has a full size 30mm 8-button layout, with a 28mm button taking the place of the Start/Options button. The back of the box makes a point of saying the stick if compatible with Sanwa branded 30mm buttons – what most FGC players consider the arcade standard – but these aren’t included.
Instead, we get some nice red third-party buttons – not quite up to the Sanwa standard, but they’re more than suitable for casual players. The same can be said of the stick – this isn’t a competitive standard stick, but casuals or the unconcerned will be more than satisfied. Anyone unhappy with the stick and buttons can of course easily swap them out – all that’s needed is a cable to connect your new stick. I decided to swap in a few spare buttons I had lying around, which all fit fine – aside from the 28mm Start button, which felt as if it didn’t fit snug.
When it comes to the appearance of the stick then, the black and red aesthetic is very pleasing, but it’s somewhat of a let down – Venom’s past licensed sticks included a clear plastic which could be removed, allowing you to place your own art. Unfortunately, this stick merely has the black background with the Venom logo in the corner – only an experienced modder would want to try and touch the art work on this.
But when a game gets started, the Venom Arcade Stick works great. The stick feels fine, it’s comfortable in your lap, games play well, and it works natively with PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Wonderful. Except, it doesn’t work natively with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Despite the wonderful claims of a multi platform arcade stick compatible with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, this is only a half-truth – one which is not rectified on the box, and not mentioned until you view the fight stick’s instructions. Basically, if you want to use this stick with a PlayStation 4, you must connect a Dual Shock 4 controller to the back of the stick using the included Micro USB cable – yes, the stick has a small USB port in the back.
This is the only way the stick can work with the PlayStation 4 console – the exact same method is required for use with the Xbox One, only with an Xbox One controller substituted instead of a DS4. While this is likely a decision made to avoid incurring extra licensing costs, it comes at the expense of usability – suddenly, the fight stick that can be used for every situation, on every system, requires an extra piece of equipment to be useful. Sure, you will likely have an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 controller lying around if you own the console, but what if you wanted to use that controller for multiplayer, or if you want to take your fight stick to an event or tournament – are you to take all of the relevant controllers too? Suddenly, this stick isn’t as compact and portable as it might seem.
Ultimately, the Venom Arcade Fight Stick is a great, useful piece of entry-level gaming hardware – but its usefulness, given it basically acts just as a pass-through controller for PS4 and Xbox One gaming, is limited. I wanted to love this product, but this design decision has made it tough to recommend. Still, the Venom Arcade Fight Stick works natively with PS3, 360 and PC – for those systems, this stick is fantastic. For the current gen consoles though, it’s a tough sell. Good for specific use cases, but in general, avoid in favor of officially licensed sticks that work natively with your system.
Review unit provided by the publisher.
Venom's Arcade Stick is a good entry-level piece of kit, but the multiplatform factor isn't what the box makes it out to be.
- Multi-platform compatibility
- Full-size 8 button layout
- Works natively with PS3, 360 and PC
- Requires a controller for use with Xbox One or PS4
- Feels like a step-down from Venom's past sticks