The 2023 Snack Box MICRO is a compact take on the all-button style controller for fighting games. It’s so compact that I was wondering how well it would work for me. At ten inches long and five inches wide (and a height of less than three quarters of an inch), it’s so small that I can almost cover its entire face with one hand. That size had me worried it would be too tiny for me to play comfortably after using the much-larger Victrix Pro FS 12 the last few months, and using bigger arcade or fight sticks for a while before that. Little did I know that its compact size would end up being the element I liked best about this fantastic controller.
Having only really gotten into fighting games in the last two years, I’ve been playing around with what feels best for input styles. Precision has been what I’m looking for. Control pads and arcade sticks have been all right for directional inputs, but I found that nothing compared to the all-button style. Trying out the Victrix made a lot of things click, and motions that were constant headaches on other controllers suddenly worked (with a bit of practice). Even so, I was still learning the arcade-style button layout, which meant tapping the wrong attack buttons or losing my hand position on the controller. Sometimes I’d be one button too far to the left or right, resulting in some interesting losses. So, I’d solved one problem only to have found a new one.
The 2023 Snack Box MICRO has been doing a great job of fixing that issue for me, and its size has been what’s helped. While I love the feel of larger arcade sticks and that sense of having a giant control panel (I am terrible at Steel Battalion, but do I ever love that controller), there was so much open space for my hand to roam on the controller. Yes, I know the buttons are all in one spot, but when you’re navigating by touch and have a larger spread of similar-feeling buttons to shuffle through, it can be easy to move your hand to the wrong place. It’s something that I could have fixed with constant practice, but it’s also something that I could easily goof up in a heated match even after I got good at it. I have shaky hands when I’m stressed, after all.
The small size of the 2023 Snack Box MICRO meant that I could feel the edges of the arcade stick with my wrist and hand based on where I was resting them. The lower right corner of the controller would be in the lower right corner of my right hand. Same deal for the left hand. If my hand felt anything but that corner, then I knew that I’d gotten my hands into a different position and would need to adjust. It seems like a tiny thing, but when you’re learning a whole new control scheme, something like this can help you locate yourself on the stick while you get to know it. It’s been hugely helpful in being able to hit my Roman Cancels and Bursts in Guilty Gear Strive – buttons that may as well have been on another planet while using the larger stick.
That smaller size has also worked well because it allows me to easily adjust the stick’s position and find a spot that’s most comfortable for me to use. I don’t have a dedicated spot to set up the controller as I play games in my bedroom. I usually just sit on the bed rather than at a desk. So, this has meant that bigger sticks have to sit in my lap, which, while functional and decently comfortable, means the controller needs to stay in one specific position. There’s not much ability to move it to better suit how my wrist or fingers move.
The 2023 Snack Box MICRO is small enough that I can make tiny tweaks to how it sits in my lap, allowing for better wrist rotation and finger taps. As an example, doing Potemkin Buster in Guilty Gear Strive requires I do a half circle motion from forward to back, then forward again. Despite a lot of practice, my inputs have been unreliable at best mostly due to how my wrist rolls and what feels natural for drumming my fingers along the buttons. I naturally drum my fingers from pinky to pointer, which has worked pretty good when I’m fighting on the right side. On the left, though, I have to twist and roll my wrist to do it right. That’s hard to do when the controller is sitting flat, but if I put it at a slight angle, I can get the move fairly reliably. That’s only been possible thanks to this tiny, lightweight controller and how easily I can move it.
It helps that the buttons gently cup your fingers, too, which helps keep you in place. The stick features concave keycaps out of the box that feel soft, but have just the tiniest bit of grip to them. I don’t know much about the complex features of arcade stick buttons, but I do know that the way these buttons gently keep your fingers oriented simply by curving around the finger, and the fact that they have a little bit of grip, has helped me keep my fingers in place while getting to know the stick. The buttons also have a slightly softer feel while pressing them that’s been nice, and all while preserving that delightful clicky sound that my brain loves while playing fighters.
What’s great is that this controller works on dang near everything, so once I get comfortable with it, I can hook it up to so many different systems. It works with the PS4, PS5, and even the PS3. Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S are covered, as is the Nintendo Switch. I can plug it into my PC or even my Steam Deck if I like. It’ll even connect to my Android device if I really want it to. I honestly used to have several different arcade and fight sticks for all of the different systems in the house, but now I can just use this one and I’m good to go.
The 2023 Snack Box MICRO has some other nice features as well. I picked up the artwork case version which allows me to customize the art in the stick. I haven’t done that yet because I kind of like being able to see the inner workings of the controller through the frosted case. There’s also an LED lighting system around the buttons that lights up as you press them, creating a fun display that’s also useful if you want to look down and see why an input went one way or another. Seeing the wrong button glowing has been a fun learning experience. Watching the whole thing light up while I do a Heavenly Potemkin Buster makes an already-incredible experience that much better, too.
You’re free to customize the lights to your liking as well with an app that lets you make tweaks to the controller. You can change the brightness, fiddle with colors, and choose different animations with it. While you’re there, you can also play around with the Simultaneous Opposing Cardinal Directions (SOCD) system, although I am not at a point where I feel like I want to make changes to how that operates. I just know that holding forward and backwards sets the directions to neutral so you can’t walk and charge backwards at the same time. That’s been good enough for me.
The closest thing I have to a complaint about the stick is that the 2023 Snack Box MICRO only comes with a six foot cable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a strong, durable USB C cable. The controller even has a little loop and velcro strap to connect it to the side so that it reduces wear and tear on the USB port on the stick (honestly a great design decision there). It’s just that my tv is far across the room and I have to sit fairly close to it for this cord to reach. If you had a setup where you were sitting closer to your monitor or tv you’d be fine, but a longer cord would have been nice. Since it’s USB C cable, you can swap in another one (say, from another arcade stick you also have lying around), so it’s not likely going to be a big issue for many folks.
The 2023 Snack Box MICRO is just a solid little controller overall, especially for someone like me who is learning the stick. Its compact size helps keep my fingers situated on the right buttons and allows me to adjust the stick so that certain inputs become more comfortable. The concave buttons continue to help keep me in place and they just feel really good to press. Finally, the controller just looks really cool in action with its lights and the ability to see right into its electrical innards. It’s easily my favorite fight stick, and with its size adding that ease of portability, I’m excited to start bringing it to locals to start Potemkin Buster-ing folks. See if they like the light show as much as I do when it’s playing because I stomped them.
Preorders for the next batch of 2023 Snack Box Micro arcade sticks are open now at Junkfood Arcades.