After an announcement and beta period that felt like several lifetimes, Razer’s entry into fighting games accessories, the Atrox Arcade Stick, had finally been released to the mass public. Razer’s naming scheme for their peripherals are commonly named after snakes. I didn’t really what an Atrox snake was and decided to look it up. Even now, I’m not quite sure. It appears it’s either a reference to the Bothrops atrox, Crotalus atrox, or they’ve thrown that naming convention out of the window and have named it after a Norwegian Metal band. And I’ll be honest, I’m not really opposed to the latter.
At a price point of USD$199.99 (NZD$299), the Atrox sits in the upper cusp of Arcade sticks in terms of price. Currently, the gold standard for good but affordable sticks is the Mad Catz TE sticks sitting at $159.99 that works that is console specific (though like other wired controllers the 360 will natively work on PC). It is also a decent bit over a Q4raf stick, which commonly costs $169.99, and that particular stick provides support for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. Having said that though, it is still sizably under Hori’s Real Arcade Pro. EX Premium VLX. Where that massive arcade stick is a hefty $299.99. At this price, Razer’s first entry into the Arcade Stick market needs to be responsive, durable, and fit any additional needs that Fighting Game enthusiasts in hopes to penetrate the market. It can’t be ‘good enough’, it has to be great.
The Atrox has all the characteristics that one would require from a premium Arcade Stick. 8 Sanwa Denshi buttons at the top with a Vewlix configuration, 2 smaller buttons that represent the Start and Back button on the right hand side, a Sanwa Denshi ball top joystick, sturdy frame with a padded bottom, and the common but still respectable 13 foot (4 m) cable. The guide button, switches, and turbo buttons are really solid as well but that’s about really I have to say about them. At this point you begin to realize that unlike some of Razer’s other products, such as the Orbweaver or the Naga mouse, the Atrox isn’t out to build and extreme version of the peripheral. Rather, they’re taking a design that clearly works and refining it into a single sleek package.
At the back panel you’ll notice the headset jack sits unassumingly in the top center. Going up you see that there sits a rectangular button with the Razer logo that lights up. Pressing the button a distinct pop occurs. A little push the top of the case opens slowly, not unlike the hood of a car due to a pneumatic arm on the left side. It’s entirely unneeded but I will have to admit, is very cool to see.
Once the curtain has been unveiled, you come to realize that Razer is actively encouraging one of the key points to having your own arcade stick – to make it your own. The wiring is clean and the buttons are clearly labeled. Don’t like the Hori style layout of the buttons? Change them up. Want an Octogonal Gate for the joystick instead of the default square one? Buy the part and replace it. Prefer a bat top instead of ball top (either from Mortal Kombat or other games), the replacement bat top comes with the arcade stick and sits in the bottom right. Need to screw mount the stick? They have a honeycomb structure with holes predrilled for you. The top panel can easily be removed with the top open to allow you to place your own custom artwork rather than Razer’s. In the bottom left there is a small bin for you to neatly store the detachable cord. The firmly placed small screwdriver with both a Phillips and flathead that allows so much of this customization? That’s just icing on the cake. As you’ve already guessed, and with the subtly of a thousand CG explosions, I was really taken aback with all these little touches that are not made immediately visible.
The Atrox looked the part and had a lot of bells and whistles packed away in it. However, how would it do with real world? I took the Atrox around with me during the course of a normal week to try and simulate some of the non-gaming punishment it would receive. Tossed around between a large number of groceries, sat upon, bumped around, and even had a small soup spill on top of it – and it kept on playing without missing a beat.
EVO occurred during our testing and I noticed that the CafeID team in “King of Fighters XIII” and “Street Fighter IV’s” 2011 champion Fuudo were using the Atrox. These games were played on PS3s during the event – which the Atrox isn’t compatible with out of the box. The issue of it not supporting the PS3 out of the box is a major strike against it – especially at its price point. However seeing players who are infinitely more skilled than myself, be willing to get an adaptor or PCB to continue using the Atrox, does dampen that criticism for me.
How’d Razer do? Honestly… they did a fantastic job. The Atrox isn’t perfect. The cost puts it on the higher end for arcade sticks and something that I’d be hesitant to recommend to someone that was looking to pick up as their first (and possibly only). If you have a cheaper stick and are looking to upgrade, the Atrox is a fine choice. I’m not the biggest fan of the arcade button layout for the face buttons though luckily it isn’t terribly difficult change that after the fact. For those who want to make use of the Atrox with a PS3, you need to buy extra equipment. With all that being said, the Atrox Arcade Stick is an absolutely beautiful piece of controller engineering: it’s form is never takes precedence over it’s function, it’s hilariously easy to modify, and is built like a tank for the constant use I put it through. I have to say I was a bit hesitant at first but Razer has created a product that has absolutely won me over. And just in case it was inspired by the Norwegian metal band – rock on Atrox.