Razer Atrox review: worth it for gaming nostalgia?

Razer Atrox header

MyGaming laid hands on the Razer Atrox arcade gaming controller, and after bashing, smashing and mashing through a number of fighting games, the team sat down to consider if the retro-styled gaming controller was worth the price.

The Razer Atrox retails for around R2,399, which essentially gives you an arcade controller that is tournament-ready and comes with durable buttons (ten of them), and a traditional eight-way directional joystick for movement.

The face of the Atrox is hinged, flipping backwards to reveal the innards where tinkerers can re-wire the buttons if configuring things via software is too boring. The compartment space doubles as handy storage space for the Atrox’s 4m-long cable and alternate interchangeable joystick knob (“Ball” or “Bat” designs).

Another purpose of the large internal compartment is providing a mounting platform for modding the controller. For examples of this, check out the Shoryuken forum where modders have been adding LED lighting and new buttons to the Atrox: http://forums.shoryuken.com/discussion/145828/the-razer-arcade-stick-thread/p21

On the face are 8 buttons serving as the traditional controller’s face buttons, shoulders, and triggers. The buttons and joystick are supplied by Sanwa Denshi, a Japanese company that is renowned for its arcade parts. If you’ve ever seen a Japanese gamer thrashing an arcade machine, you’ll know that these parts must stand up to severe punishment.

There is also a control panel that lets you set the turbo mode for each button; 4X or 8X turbo speeds can be set. Finally, the artwork on the face panel can also be swapped out, and Razer provides a template for printing out your own design.

The controller works for the PC and Xbox 360 platforms (sorry PS3 gamers, Razer doesn’t love you), and was tested on an Xbox 360; the setup process was painless – simply plug and play. The Atrox also has a 2.5mm audio jack for Xbox 360 headphones.

Here are our thoughts on the Razer Atrox:

Jeremy Proome

The overall feel of the controller and its housing is incredibly robust. The solid and sleek design gives the nostalgia-driven box a shiny current-gen look and feel.

Razer Atrox

Razer Atrox

The buttons are of a far superior quality to something you’d find in a dingy arcade, as Razer has embedded its high-standards of face buttons into the device.

The buttons are very responsive, and the stick does the job its supposed to. The only trouble found was with quick double-tap movements (such as strafing or running in Tekken), but that was likely due to inexperience with fighting sticks as opposed to its capabilities.

The Razer Atrox can also be modified, allowing gamers to switch the innards to different positions if need be. During our testing, we never found this to be necessary, but the hardcore fighting fans may want to readjust to suit their specific needs.

The hidden storage compartment helps pack away the cables very quickly, and makes the Atrox a breeze to pack up and store when your gaming session is over. It’s relatively heavy in weight, but it’s just what is needed when you’re wrangling and arm-wresting with the joystick and buttons.

With regards to the overall quality of the sticks – it’s incredibly well-made and has a solid feel to it; but regarding the price-point of over R2,000, it’s hard to recommend to the average gamer. The Razer Atrox is a well-designed controller, but will undoubtedly fall into the realm of hardcore and even competitive fighting fanatics.

James Etherington-Smith

Jeremy has covered my general feelings with his write-up. Personally, I did not like the flat surface, and would have preferred an angled panel, as this feels more natural when sitting an playing.

One of the troubles I experienced was a tendency to lean the joystick towards myself – the control is robust, yet sensitive, and so my fighting character would often unintentionally slip into a crouch or strafe. To avoid this, I had to stand over it. Sure, this could be down to a lack of experience handling the controller, but it’s worth noting.

Overall I’d agree that the design is solid, but it is also very plasticky. I wasn’t very impressed with the feel of the buttons, but they did the job and the Sanwa Denshi pedigree should hopefully see them lasting for many frantic button-bashing sessions – we certainly had no trouble with button-presses registering.

I don’t have the largest hands, and so the spacing of the buttons was a bit of a nuisance – I would put this down to unfamiliarity with the controller, and subsequent play sessions had me improving my abilities. However, I’m not a complete noob at fighting games, and when my turn came to pick up the traditional controller, I was right back at home, fighting the way I preferred.

Personally, I would not part with the R2,400 asking price – but I’m not a die-hard fighting game fan. This product is definitely for those gamer types, and a good choice it is too.

The ability to mod the controller adds another layer of appeal if you are the tinkering type. However, I wonder if R2,400 is not a bit steep even for fighting game fanatics – I’m a PC gamer at heart and spending that kind of money on a new mouse and keyboard combo would also have me thinking long and hard about whether my purchase is justifiable.

Also, bear in mind that this is a single-player device, and it can be measured up against something like the X-Arcade 2-player controllers: http://www.xgaming.com/store/category/arcade-joysticks-and-game-controllers/

We have previously shipped one of these to the SA post office, and weren’t hit with import charges. Currently, depending on your platform choice, you can expect to pay $220 – $250 including shipping (R2,200 – R2,500)*. Of course, importing a controller yourself means immense difficulty with warranty support, and this is where Razer SA has the upper hand.If money is no object, and you want to spice up your fighting game experience, then the Razer Atrox is a solid choice.

*1 USD = 10.0424 ZAR Mid-market rates: 2013-07-12 11:58 UTC

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Razer Atrox review: worth it for gaming nostalgia?

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