There is nothing like the feel of a quality arcade stick. Call me old-fashioned, but I was raised (as a gamer) in the arcades. I cut my teeth on games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct on a stick, not a controller. When I heard Razer was putting its hat into the arena of fight sticks, I had to see how it turned out. Known for their great line of peripherals (mostly on PC), seeing how they tackled the fickle world of fighting games intrigued me. The Atrox Arcade Stick continues their level of excellence with superior design, and great customization.
Right out of the box, I noticed the quality of the design. The stick has a solid weight to it, but isn’t overly bulky. It sits on a lap perfectly, and the gloss surface looks great, while keeping my hands in place. The stick itself feels great. It has the click fighting fans are accustomed to, but also mutes it just enough to keep from being annoying. The buttons feel fantastic. Each press is accented by a deep click and just enough resistance. This feels like a true arcade experience.
A lot of this comes from the parts inside. The stick and buttons are all Sanwa Denshi, with the buttons consisting of the Vewlix configuration. The Start and Back buttons reside on the side of the stick, with the option to disable them during play to avoid pausing the game. The guide button sits firmly at the top of stick along with the turbo and lock switches. The cable that comes with it is detachable and also able to be stored within the stick itself; which is where the Atrox really starts to shine.
Customization was at the heart of the design. Pressing the button on the front of the stick opens up the top to reveal one of the most inviting customization projects I have ever seen. One of the biggest things fighting game players like to do is customize their sticks, and Razer has made it simple. Each button is clearly labeled, and they even included a separate bat-style joystick for those that are not a fan of the traditional ball design. The bottom left has a spot for the 13-foot cable, and a screwdriver with both phillips and flathead ends is housed on the right.
Replacing buttons is simple, as they are all color-coded and labeled. Don’t like the layout that comes with it? Simply switch around the wires. I could also replace any piece with little to no effort, including the artwork on the top piece. This is the ultimate in customizable fight sticks I have ever played with.
Of course, what good is a fight stick without testing some games? For this review I toyed around with Street Fighter IV AE, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Darkstalkers, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter 3: Third Strike. I will admit I am not the biggest fan of the standard layout, but once I did some button configuration things ran smoothly. Buttons are fantastic, and I was meter-burning special moves in Injustice and delivering perfect focus attacks in SF IV. Getting back into the idea of using a fight stick felt like visiting an old friend, and actually improved my performance in almost every fighter I played.
If there is one holdout on the Atrox, it is the price. While MadCatz offers up a solid line of fighting sticks for around $159.99, Razer’s drops in at a hefty $199.99. It is worth noting that the Razer offers up easier customization, and overall I just felt the quality of the stick and its casing were a bit superior to the MadCatz design. Still, those looking for a quality fight stick cannot go wrong with either one, it just depends on how important customization really is.
The stick also only works on Xbox 360 and PC out of the box, which is a shame. With the popularity of tournaments like EVO supporting PS3, hardcore fans will have to buy adapters to get it to work with Sony’s machine. I would have loved to see support out of the box for the PlayStation 3.
Razer’s first foray into the arena is a solid one. The Atrox stick carries a premium price, but delivers a premium product. I wish PS3 support had been included without an adapter. Those looking for the best arcade stick in this price range would be hard-pressed to find a better offering than the Atrox Arcade Stick.
Recommendation: This is for the serious player looking for easy customization.
Review copy of controller provided by publisher.