Shoryuken review: Is the Venom Arcade Fight Stick the cure for our multi-platform blues?

By on August 22, 2017 at 1:00 pm
Venom Arcade Fight Stick

Ever since I picked up an Xbox One, I’ve wanted to give Killer Instinct a proper go. With a new stick for my PlayStation 4, however, I was straight out of luck, and my feeble attempts to make magic happen on a pad were ill-fated and short lived. Ever since, I’ve looked at KI with a sort of vague longing, all while enjoying my other games on PS4, with my PS4 stick.

A few weeks ago however, I got my hands on Venom’s new Multi-Platform Arcade Fight Stick. Admittedly with a few hoops to jump through, it let me play whatever I wanted on whatever platform I wanted, all with just a few moments of down time. I could shut down Injustice 2 after suffering a particularly savage beating, and just a minute or two later be getting my Jago going on a completely different console. In fact, since I’ve had the Venom in hand it has done just that in a tournament setting, alongside being taken out for a spin at fests and home visits.

Venom 2

With great convenience comes a few minor caveats however, so let’s get them out of the way. The Venom is an inexpensive proposition — it’s on sale in the UK for just £60, or about $80. That means it doesn’t come with the bells, whistles, and Sanwa parts that we’ve all become accustomed to. The stock parts are okay, but they do pale in comparison to Sanwa’s or Seimitsu’s offerings, so you’ll want to replace them in the long term. Particularly at fault are the buttons, which are spongy and loose. The stick itself is decent, but does rattle a little when you’re in the thick of things, which can sound alarming.

Thankfully, the case itself is easily compatible with aftermarket parts, and replacing the stick and buttons is as simple as slotting them into place and plugging the wires in. With the metal bottom providing quick and easy access to the internals, new parts is a twenty minute job at worst.

Once it’s decked out with your stick and buttons of choice, you’ll have to deal with one other inconvenience — the fact that the Venom has to be plugged into a controller to work properly. There’s a second USB cable for ease of use, and the process itself is relatively simple, but it does necessitate bringing a spare controller along, and dealing with extra wires. In practice, I found this to be a non-issue, and quickly became accustomed to having the controller plugged in. At tournament, the controller remained in my bag while the Venom sat on my lap, and I didn’t come across any issues throughout my — admittedly unsuccessful — run through bracket.

Venom 4

One point that comes down to preference is size — the Venom is a petite piece of kit. This makes it eminently transportable, but does leave it feeling slightly lacking in play. I’m 6’5″ with hands to match, but I got accustomed to the Venom quickly, and it now feels just as comfortable in play as my MadCatz units. It might not work so well for others, but that ultimately comes down to personal preference.

When it comes to the action, the Venom holds up admirably. Straight out the box and despite the stock parts, the Venom was performing on equal footing to my Qanba Dragon, with Ryu’s jabs trading hits. The Dragon came out ahead in the total tally — beating the Venom cleanly in about one jab in 10 — but overall it was incredibly close.

Despite daily use, I’ve also yet to have a problem with connectivity. I’ve taken the Venom with me on train journeys, to major events and to a buddy’s house, and I have yet to have a problem with it. Regardless of console, I’ve had consistently clean inputs and quick connections, including moving directly from one Xbox One console to another.

Venom 3

It’s not perfect, but as an affordable stick that works on your console of choice — whether that’s PS4, Xbox One, or both — the Venom is a revelation. Spongy buttons and a mediocre stick are easy fixes, and though the lack of nice artwork is a tad disappointing, the stark black case of the Venom has its own charms. The initially awkward setup quickly becomes second nature and, let’s be honest, is small price to pay for good versatility. Whether you’re looking for your first ever arcade stick, or just the base for a multi-platform piece of kit for day-to-day use, I can’t recommend it enough — as long as you know what you’re getting into.

Pros

  • Convenient size and weight
  • Multi-platform with minimum fuss
  • Easy to open up and change parts
  • Works on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Cons

  • Stock parts are not Sanwa/Seimitsu quality
  • Initially awkward set-up
  • Not necessarily easy to obtain outside of Europe

Keegan “Interrobang!?” Spindler is Shoryuken's Features Editor, and is far better at thinking about Fighting Games than winning at them. Somehow every character he picks turns out to be low tier, and when he’s not getting beaten you can find him writing nonsense tweets - @DumbGrammarJoke – and trying to work out how to get good.