So you want to be a pro fighting gamer, do ya? Well ya gotta eat lighting combos and crap thunder juggles! You’re going to need hardware to match your ambitions, and with a ton of arcade inspired fight-sticks on the market, you’re going to want something that will last you for years to come! And that’s where the Razer Atrox comes in.
Lay me out baby
Designed as a tournament-grade arcade-pad, the Atrox comes equipped with a joystick, eight face buttons and a bunch of other smaller ones. They all work. That’s the basic explanation. To be far more technical however, the Razer Atrox is set up with the Sanwa Denshi JLF-TP-8YT joystick for maximum fighting wiggles, while the face buttons themselves are of the OBSF-30 and OBSF-24 variety. What does that mean? Expect fast-paced snap inputs depending on what manner of bliksem attack you want to throw at opponents, that’s what.
In addition to all that, there’s an Xbox home button on the surface, a control stick switch for when you want to utilise either analogue stick or the directional pad and map it to your joystick, as well as lock switches. Even more buttons are available however, with eight turbo buttons that allow you to shout a Knight Rider catchphrase and hammer out dozens of punches per face button, with minimal finger movements required. Going turbo comes in two flavours, allowing players to execute either four or eight moves per second.
The layout of the buttons themselves come from a slight variant on the Taito Vewlix system, with influences from Dead Or Alive 4. That means two rows of four buttons each, with the various inputs favouring right-handed players. The default stick for the Atrox is a Sanwa balltop, with a baseball bat design stick included in the Atrox as well.
With a start and select button on the right-hand side of the Atrox, what you have then is an arcade-stick that has Tournament level parts inside of it, that will last you many, many furious taps and slams during heated competitions. But so do many other peripherals, from various other retailers. So what does the Atrox have to offer then for the higher price tag? A custom experience, that’s what.
Custom punches to your face
The Atrox can be opened up, with all its technical innards exposed if you’re into that kind of hardware porn. Razer has marketed the Atrox as a device that can be tinkered with, and it actually encourages this behaviour for gamers who want to fine-tune their experience. The first such example of this, is that all the buttons are colour-coded inside, with a handy map above them to keep folks from inadvertently wiring a new punch button to a grapple input and possibly sabotaging all of their competitive efforts. Believe it or not, this kind of thing does happen.
There’s a handy little screwdriver included as well, that has its own compartment, so you’re sorted for any sort of star or flat-head screwing that you’ll need to do. This setup also allows for buttons to easily be removed and swapped, while the Sanwa JF lever can also be swapped out, with a spare lever able to occupy its own slot in the casing.
The main feature however, can be found in the floor itself. That honeycomb grid pattern there? That’s there for a reason, and it has nothing to do with looking pretty. Each hole in that grid serves as a screwhole, which means that the particularly obsessive fight-stick fans out there can throw in other hardware such as an LED board or PCB bits that give the joystick more functionality.
It may look daunting at first, but actually digging into the Atrox and playing around with its internals is easy enough, with even this particular monkey finding it simple enough to do so. This is what will sell the Atrox, and on the customisation front, Razer has succeeded splendidly.
Heavy, but sexy
In terms of ergonomics, the Atrox is a beast. Despite being made mostly of plastic and Hadoukens, the Atrox has quite a bit of heft, which can actually be satisfying for players who want an arcade stick that doesn’t feel like it’s going to break in half when you get overzealous on the 21 hit combos. It’s about the size of a small briefcase, and could easily be used to murder someone, which is handy (But not recommended) in situations where you’re being dominated in Mortal Kombat.
The Atrox also has a comfy rubber base, giving it a firm Kung-Fu grip on your lap, while opening it up reveals a piston that keeps the device from guillotining your head off while you fiddle around inside it. Despite the plastic construction, it feels like the kind of quality plastic that you’d find outside of a Beverly Hills surgery, with the Atrox having a sturdy shell that won’t crack easy.
There’s also a lengthy connection wire nestled inside an internal compartment, which will give you several meters of room to set the Atrox up with, or work as an impromptu strangulation cord when you’re playing a game of Street Fighter against Geoff (Again, not recommended). The clip for this particular cord has a handy lock, so you won’t have to worry about accidentally disconnecting from your Xbox 360.
To test the Atrox out properly, we put it through the ringer. Street Fighter 4 Arcade Edition, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Mortal Kombat, Guilty Gear X, BlazBlue: Chrona Phantasma and Soul Calibur 2 HD were used for the tests, to see how the stick performed. I went into several matches, being absolutely rubbish at fighting games when using a controller, and came out still being absolutely rubbish when using the Atrox.
But that’s because I have zero skills, despite my love for the genre. Despite my massive gap in talent, the Atrox still performed beautifully, with the wired setup providing zero lag whatsoever. In professional tournaments, even a micro-second delay can be the decider between victory and defeat, and the Atrox performed exquisitely, as it threw out perfectly executed punches and special attacks when I allowed a fighting game fanatic to take the stick.
Taking things a step further, I fired up some emulators, sat down for some classic games and had a blast as I relived a youth outside a Greek corner cafe where I would pump 50 cent coins into games such as Sunset Riders and the Punisher. The Atrox may be meant for fighting games primarily, but there’s nothing to stop you using it for other games as well.
If you’re not planning to play around with the Atrox internals, that does leave you with some real estate inside of the device. Naturally, this makes a perfect location to store some treats, with Kit Kat being the most ergonomically designed confectionery that you can shove inside. Chunkier chocolates may get squished by the protruding hardware from the roof of the Atrox, but laying out several delicious Kit Kats flat will help prevent you getting any candy stuck inside the electronics (Editors note: Darryn is an idiot and we really, really don’t recommend keeping sweets inside the Atrox).
Final round analysis
There’s no getting around the fact that the Razer Atrox is one of the pricier fight-sticks on the market. But what you’re getting is a device that lives up to the investment. You also have to ask yourself how invested you are in the current-gen console fighting game genre, as the device won’t work on the Xbox One, meaning that future fighting games will have to waged on PC, if you happen to have the hardware to support it.
But if you’re sticking around with games such as Injustice, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter 4 and various others for the long run, then you’ve got a slice of arcade heaven right here, in a sexy bundle that wants you to get intimate and play around inside it.