Monoprice Dark Matter Arcade Fight Stick Review – Game Changer

Monoprice Dark Matter Arcade Fight Stick Review

I hardly know a thing about arcade controllers. I always assumed fighting games were perfectly playable on regular console pads. To be fair, they totally are. And yet, my first experience with a proper fight stick was a transformative one. The Dark Matter Arcade fight stick is a high quality piece of hardware that will change how you look at fighting games. Still, how much you need this tech hinges on your relationship with fighting games in general.

The Dark Matter arcade pad exudes quality before you even turn it on. Sanwa Denshi buttons give every input proper weight and response. The cabinet’s finish is super sleek and dotted with stars. Picking up the fight pad also reveals a satisfying heft. This thing feels solid. The stick itself clicks and swivels with admirable precision. I was relieved to discover this quality level continued into my play sessions.

High Quality Components

For experienced fighting game fans, the Dark Matter Arcade pad will feel terrific. For me, it was like learning a new language on the fly. Arcade controls are a whole different animal compared to regular controllers. The position of your hands is different. Your relationship with the buttons is brand new. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time figuring all this out. Pulling off sick moves with this rig feels like a serious accomplishment. I just feel like anyone using an arcade stick for the first time needs some warning. This is a very different dialect compared to what you’re used to.

Dark Matter Arcade Fight Stick Review

This is an incredibly flexible device. You can plug this bad boy into almost every major system you own, which rules. I did extensive testing on the Switch, the PS5, and the Series X. The good news is that it worked like a charm every time. The bad news is that some serious setup is often required. The PS5 was the worst offender. Strictly speaking, the Dark Matter Arcade pad isn’t actually PS5-compatible. You need both PS4 games and a PS4 controller to get it working. Even so, I was able to play several last-gen fighting games using this setup.

Not For PS5 It Seems

The Series X was more forgiving, but you still need a controller. It’s a slight pain, but I’ve thankfully got controllers to spare. Using this pad on the Switch didn’t require any extra controllers for once. On the other hand, you’ve got to hold two buttons while plugging it into the console. A fresh new flavor of frustration, in other words.

Dark Matter Arcade Fight Stick Review

All of this sounds aggravating (and it was!), but only at the setup stage. Actually using the Dark Matter Arcade fight pad was smooth and seamless. Input response was immediate, your moves felt fluid, and certain combos actually got easier to execute. Even cruel classics like Street Fighter Alpha 2 felt more forgiving with a proper fight pad. Pros around the world use gear like this for a reason, it turns out.

Poetry In Motion

It stands to reason that something known as a ‘fight pad’ has a limited utility in gaming. I tested some side-scrolling beat-em-ups with moderate success, but that’s about it. Arcade sticks are for fighting games only. It seems obvious from a distance, but it’s worth considering at the checkout page. If you’re a diehard fighting game fan, a purchase like this makes perfect sense. Otherwise, you might not want to spend this much on something so particular.

To be fair, I’m not a diehard fighting game guy, either. But using this arcade stick has converted me to the cause. The satisfying inputs and the hefty design are a strong argument in themselves. Plus, being able to play as the pros do is a huge bonus. You might be concerned about the price. But a certain cost/quality balance is pretty normal for gear like this. If you’re shopping for a new way to play your favorite fighting games, check out Monoprice’s Dark Matter Arcade Fight Stick.

***A retail version of the product was provided by the manufacturer***

The Good

  • High quality components
  • Flexible and compatible
  • Solid, hefty design

The Bad

  • Setup gets pretty involved
  • Limited genre utility
  • No PS5 compatibility