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Razer Atrox Arcade Stick review

Razer arcade stick

Razer's first foray into fighting game peripherals doesn't pull any punches, with fully customisable buttons and switches and an easy access interior

Razer might be best known for its PC gaming peripherals and involvement in e-sports like Starcraft and Counter Strike, but the company has been hard at work on its first product for the fighting game community – an arcade-style stick designed to compete with the likes of Mad Catz and Hori as the weapon of choice for players all over the world. We were lucky enough to spend some time with a near-finished beta version of the Atrox, weeks before it officially goes on sale, in order to bring you our hands-on impressions.


Razer arcade stick beta

From the outside, there’s little to distinguish the Atrox from many other high-end sticks already on the market, save for the circuit board-style graphics. The eight authentic Sanwa Denshi face buttons are colour coded to match the Xbox controller buttons and are angled at a slight curve to better match the contour of your fingers.

Gamers familiar with Mad Catz TE sticks will notice a slight difference in that the top row of buttons comprise of B, X, Y and LB, rather than X, Y, RB, LB. This could take some getting used to unless you re-assign buttons in-game or rearrange them manually – more on that below.

The square gate joystick is to the left, with the start and select button to the side of the base where they can’t be accidentally knocked.

Razer arcade stick beta

A panel at the top-left of the stick contains the Xbox guide button, along with sliders to switch the stick between left and right analogue or digital D-pad controls, and to lock the Xbox guide and start buttons to prevent accidental disqualifications during a match.

Razer arcade stick beta

There are also rapid-fire buttons for each of the eight face buttons – although these won’t be of use to anyone attending tournaments, they are sure to see plenty of use online. The light up green when activated, so you know instantly which buttons are set to rapid fire.

Razer arcade stick beta

At the back, a standard USB type-B connection lets you attach or detach the extra long cable at will, although we would have liked to see an easier way to reign it in – if you don’t need all three meters of cable to reach your console, you’re left with a lot of loose wire. The Mad Catz hinged door is a much more effective way to keep cable clutter to a minimum. It ends in a standard USB connector, with a quick release to prevent an accidental tug ripping the Xbox off its base.

Razer arcade stick beta

The rubber finish on the underside helps keep the stick firmly in place, whether you play on a desk, on the floor or on your lap. The embossed Ouroboros logo is a nice touch too, even if you aren’t going to be seeing much of it when playing.


Razer arcade stick

It’s underneath that the Atrox truly stands out – the company has tried to make it as user-friendly as possible, with a quick-release switch at the front-centre of the stick that gives you instant access to the internal wiring. The entire top panel levers up and is held in place with a hydraulic arm, so you’re free to work on the stick with both hands.

Razer arcade stick beta

A handy reference card lets you know what each of the wires represents, so you can rewire buttons but still get back to the original layout. Each button uses quick disconnects, so you can swap them around without needing a screwdriver, and the main PCB to which they all connect is securely hidden beneath a plastic guard. You’ll need to use a screwdriver to remove the four screws that hold it in place, but once detached modders will be able to tweak the stick with their own additions.

Razer arcade stick beta

There’s room for the extra long USB cable inside, along with a screwdriver and an alternative bat-top for the stick, in case you prefer an American-style setup to the traditional Japanese ball-top that comes fitted out of the box. It only takes 30 seconds to unscrew one and fit the other using the screwdriver.

Razer arcade stick beta

Gamers familiar with Mad Catz TE sticks will notice a slight difference in that the top row of buttons comprise of B, X, Y and LB, rather than X, Y, RB, LB. This could take some getting used to unless you rearrange them manually, or you’ll have to re-assign buttons in-game.

Being able to quickly swap the position of each button without needing dedicated tools will surely be appreciated by players that switch between multiple fighting games, as it’s far easier to set the stick up once than having to change the controls in-game every time you step up to the main stage – the Mad Catz Soul Calibur stick instantly springs to mind, as the remapped buttons are a nightmare to reconfigure when trying to play Street Fighter or Tekken.


Razer arcade stick beta

To put the Atrox through its paces, we took to Xbox Live to try our luck against all challengers in a range of fighting games, including Super Street Fighter 4, Ultiamte Marvel vs Capcom 3, King of Fighters XIII and Dead or Alive 5.

As we’ve come to expect from Razer, the Atrox performed admirably – we thought the Sanwa buttons were slightly quieter than a Mad Catz Tournament edition stick, although there’s not a lot in it, and as both use parts from the same Japanese manufacturer they feel almost identical.

The extra internal components like the hydraulic arm add to the weight of the stick, giving it a little more heft than we’re used to, but the rubber underside locked it firmly in place during play.

Although we didn’t experience any issues with it during our testing, we would appreciate some peace of mind that the USB connection isn’t going to get tugged out the back of the stick during hectic gameplay – it’s hardly loose, but just knowing it’s removable when other sticks have captive cables may be a downside for some.

Razer arcade stick

It would also have been great if Razer could have found a way to make the Atrox work with both Xbox and PS3, although we understand that neither Microsoft or Sony are very supportive of cross-console compatibility and get final say over licensing, so this omission isn’t particularly surprising.

Finally, at the time of writing, there were no Windows drivers to let us use the stick with the PC versions of our fighting game collection – however, knowing Razer, these should appear online once the stick is officially released.
UPDATE – PC drivers are now available for the Atrox, and should be auto-detected when connected to a Windows 8 PC


With only a few weeks left until Razer officially launches the Atrox, it’s not clear whether anything will change from this beta version to what customers will be able to buy. We can’t see cable management being altered at this late stage, as it would require completely redesigning the outer chassis, but if everything else stays the same it certainly has what it takes to impress gamers.

Razer has yet to confirm an official UK price for the stick, but if it’s competitive we expect it to do very well with fighting game fans – especially those that like to customise and modify their joysticks. Hopefully, they won’t have much longer to wait – the Atrox is going on sale in the US in June.

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