8BitDo Arcade Stick For Xbox
Image: Damien McFerran / Pure Xbox

The arrival of Street Fighter 6 will have had many people rushing for their arcade sticks, largely because the standard controller that comes with the Xbox Series X and S is somewhat inadequate when it comes to playing one-on-one brawlers. If you're lucky enough to own a compatible stick, then you're probably already enjoying the fruits of that purchase, but should you be in the market for one, then the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox may be worthy of your attention.

Designed with old-school titles and fighting games in mind, the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox is a dead-ringer for 8BitDo's already-available stick for the Nintendo Switch; it shares the same basic design and, outside of a few minor differences, feels the same to use. The key changes are related to the Xbox branding; there's a 'Home' button, as well as the usual 'View', 'Share' and 'Menu' buttons, just like those you'd find on a standard Xbox controller.

You've also got a switch that allows you to toggle your headset settings, as it's possible to plug one in thanks to the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone socket. You can choose to have the headphones and mic enabled, just the headphones or just the mic – the choice is yours. It's also possible to have the joystick act as the left analogue, right analogue or digital pad. Finally, the USB-C port – for both wired play and charging the stick's internal battery – is located on the back of the unit rather than in the 2.4G dongle dock (as was the case with the previous 8BitDo Arcade Stick).

The aforementioned dock is also located on the back edge of the stick and houses the 2.4G dongle, which is required for its low-latency wireless connection. You'll need to remove the dongle and pop it into one of the USB-A ports on your Xbox console to use the stick without a wire – but there's no onerous setup required, as it connects to the stick the moment you insert it. Because it's a 2.4G connection, there's very little in the way of noticeable lag – in fact, if you're happy with the wireless performance of the standard Xbox controller, then you're going to have zero complaints here. If you do, then there's always the wired option, which is possible thanks to the extremely generous USB-C to USB-A cable that's included in the box.

As for the stick and buttons, they're the same as the ones seen on 8BitDo's Switch-flavoured stick, and do the job well enough. We certainly didn't have any issues, but if you feel the need for superior parts, you can always open the unit up and install different ones – 8BitDo's sticks are customisable, which will score big points with Sanwa-loving arcade junkies.

The only complaint we have personally – and this is probably down to the fact that we have tiny, Hobbit-sized hands – is that we sometimes struggle to move our fingers around the face buttons fast enough. This is, of course, something that improves as your muscle memory gets trained, but we thought it best to mention it regardless; like so many arcade sticks, some people might find 8BitDo's option a little on the large size.

Battery life is also good, with around 30 hours of play from a single charge. It's worth noting that this figure is likely to drop if you decide to use the stick with a headset, but it's still more than enough stamina for most players.

Given that Street Fighter 6 has just been launched, that's the ideal title to test 8BitDo's stick with – and it doesn't disappoint. We felt more confident pulling off special moves when using this controller, although it's worth noting that the game's free-roaming 'World Tour' mode either requires an extra Xbox controller to help you move the camera around, or you'll need to turn on the 'Camera Assist' option located in the settings menu. Thankfully, the game is focused on more traditional one-on-one battles anyway, so this is most certainly a reliable tool for the job.

Of course, while fighting games benefit from arcade stick control, they're not the only genre which plays better with this kind of interface. Titles like Radiant Silvergun, Ikagura, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage 2 and many, many more retro-focused games play like a dream with this stick, too.

There's plenty of competition in the arcade stick space, but 8BitDo's offering represents a brilliant option, and we appreciate the fact that it's tailored for the Xbox family of systems, too. At £100, it's certainly not cheap, but when compared to other arcade sticks, that's not an unreasonable price tag. We're loving Street Fighter 6 at the moment, and the arrival of this controller has only enhanced the game's appeal.

Thanks to 8BitDo for sending us the review unit used in this piece.

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