Controllers. You may think that the small, lightweight, well designed pad in your hand is all you ever need to be able to game, but back in the day, when the arcade ruled the roost over the home gaming scene, it was all about one stick and a shed load of buttons.

Nowadays there are all manner of control systems on the market. You’ve got your humble standard console controller that has had a fortune pumped into its design in order to bring you the optimum experience, the expensive pro versions with their moddable buttons, and even the motion control systems which every now and then threaten to take over the world, before sinking back into the abyss. The input options are pretty much endless.

But if you’re a fight fan, preferring to spend your gaming time smashing fists into faces and dropping a well timed boot onto a knee, you’ll know that there is only one type of controller you really want. A fight stick. And that is why Venom have entered the market with their Arcade Fight Stick – a controller which, for all intents and purposes, is attempting to replicate the good old arcade scene in your own home. Granted, you don’t need to drown in 10p coins in order to get your fix, but should you be at home with the likes of Killer Instinct, Tekken 7 or Injustice 2, and really want to show who is boss, then the Venom Arcade Fight Stick really does deliver the goods.

Coming with a simple but understated black and red colour scheme, the Fight Stick isn’t a shy wallflower. Oh no, it comes with a size and feel that is a whole world away from your standard input offerings. Its dimensions of approx 300mm (W), 220mm (D) and 70mm (H) ensure it’ll never be lost down the back of the sofa, and you’ll quickly understand that this isn’t something you’ll find placed on your lap for hours on end – the 1.6KG weight will put paid to that. But that’s not to say you can’t use it on your lap, you can, just that it’s a whole load better having it firmly placed on a table in front of you. The four padded feet found on the very bottom of the Stick weren’t put there for nothing you know!

A slightly slanted front allows for wrist resting, but when you start bashing the 8-button control scheme till kingdom come, then you’ll quickly realise that you most definitely want something solid underneath it. Each of the buttons comes with a lovely feel, really hammering home the memories of days gone by as a youngster smashing through the arcade. The travel, in regards button input, is nigh on perfect for what you want of it, and when combined with the solitary stick that clicks delightfully as you move it, you probably couldn’t ask for anything more from a dedicated fighting stick. Even the mechanical sounds that the buttons and sticks omit when in use will take you straight back to those good old arcade days.

But surely a major hammering is going to really test the build quality of the Venom stick? Well, I’ve been hands on with it for a couple of weeks now, with absolutley no issues whatsoever. Obviously only time will tell how the buttons hold up, but with Venom behind it and a premium feel from top to bottom, chances are you’ll be able to give it a good going over for some time yet.

But how does it work? Well, on its own, it’s a pretty useless piece of kit – as you would expect from a controller that only brings one directional input to the party. But when you link it up via the USB cable to a controller of your choice, it kicks into action. A supplied USB lead allows the link up between Arcade Fight Stick and standard Xbox One or PS4 controller, and whilst I would have personally preferred this cable to be slightly longer, 1m of taut length is just about acceptable. Once connected, the Fight Stick’s integrated 3m long USB gets plugged to a spare port on the console of your choice, before you need to power things up with your standard controller. From there on out however, the Fight Stick does the business.

It isn’t just the stick and 8-button layout which Venom have decided to include on their Fight Stick though, and helpfully placed is a large Start/Options/Menu button, with smaller Select/Share and Turbo options also in place. As any fight fans know, a Turbo switch is a massive help when taking the fight to the masses and it’s great to see Venom including one for times of need.

So, even though the Venom Arcade Fight Stick comes with a premium feel, enough buttons for you to shake a stick at and is solid enough to last for a good old while, is it really something you must have in your controller collection? Well, I’ve managed to get by with all manner of games for the last 40 odd years without having one at hand, but then, if you’ve seen my attempts with any fighter over the last couple of decades, you’d probably think that this stick is a necessity.

And being honest, if you’re a big fighting fan who spends their hours, days and weeks on the likes of Injustice 2 or Tekken 7, then I’d urge you to go and buy one immediately. The fact that it is also compatible with Sanwa Denshi buttons, will go some way to drawing in the hardcore button aficionados too. Some may well prefer to see slightly longer cables in place – both in terms of connecting to the console and your standard controller – but on the whole, it’s a job done good by Venom.

At the end of the day, the Venom Arcade Fight Stick is nice and all that, and even though its price will never really break the bank, it’s hard to really recommend it to all but the most ardent fighting fan. If you’re one of those, then like I say, go and get your mitts on it, but for the casual fighting gamer I’m not sure it’s really worth the effort or the expense.

You can pick up the Venom Arcade Fight Stick from Amazon for £59.99.

Related: Unboxing the Venom Arcade Fight Stick for Xbox One, PS4 and PC

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