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Razer Atrox Arcade Stick Review: One Game Pony

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Is there any more niche a market than the one for arcade joysticks? They're almost always reserved for fighting games like Tekken or Street Fighter. You'll also pay more than you would for a game pad. Arcade joysticks are supposed to last as long as real arcade joysticks. Everything from the buttons to PCB design take more punishment than ordinary game pads. The joysticks get yanked left, right, up and down. Buttons get mashed and battered during intense fights. You'll drop them, scratch them and will bust up the edges. These area the reasons that arcade joysticks exist. Can Razer's Atrox take the punishment? I took it for a spin, here's what I found.

Tonnes of features and customisation

It comes in a bigger box than your Xbox One. That should tell you how big the Atrox is. You'll get 8 configurable and 2 menu activating buttons. You're going to get a ball top and bat top to attach to the joystick. There's a screwdriver included, as well as removable covers for all the electronics. Razer has included a keyed 4-meter DIN-style USB cable. There also happens to be a hydraulic arm to open up the box. There's also a breakout cable that will split from the Atrox's cable, in case of a hard yank.

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As a bonus, the Atrox has internal storage for small items like tools or cables. The box opens at a touch of a button, and extends to full length by itself. The hydraulic arm is great touch since it holds the unit open full length at all times. This also allows smooth opening and closing of the unit. The top face of the Atrox can changed for a custom design of your choice. There is a lock switch to prevent opening of the box while playing as well. Razer also included a rubber mat at the bottom to prevent slippage while playing.

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Razer allows customisation of almost every aspect of the arcade stick. The only limit you'll experience is on the PCB, where tamper-indicating paint got placed. Hardcore fighter players will love this aspect of the Atrox. This allows them to cater the unit to their needs.

I have to ask though: Why is there no headphone jack?

It feels tough, for plastic

The Atrox feels strong with its all-plastic design and sturdy buttons. My only misgiving is that there is a bit of creaking when pressing down on the top of the box. This is restricted to the middle of the box. Over time this is something one learns to ignore. I haven't got confirmation on the retail price of the Atrox for the Xbox One yet. I expect it will cost above R2200, as the retail price is recommended at $199. That's a hefty price range to ask for, for an all plastic design. Why there was so little metal on the in the casing of the Atrox I am not sure. There could have been aluminum on the outer shell at least.

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PC players may enjoy it better than console gamers

Well, for the Xbox One you're restricted to Killer Instinct. At least for now, any way.  Mortal Kombat X is on the way, as well. Street Fighter won't be coming to Microsoft's console, but will be available on PC. If you own a PC, you should be able to take advantage of existing titles. These include several Mortal Kombat iterations as well as Injustice. I was not able to confirm how well it played on PC, since I could only test it on a Xbox One. I did check out which buttons did work with the PC drivers, though. The Atrox picked up as a Xbox One Controller for Windows. When testing out its buttons  I found that six out of eight buttons functioned. The left and right triggers didn't detect any button presses. The joystick detected as a DPAD. Any game you play will need digital movement controls mapped.

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It works with one game on the Xbox One

Killer Instinct did play better on the Atrox than it did with the Xbox One controller. This was in part due to the responsive buttons and joystick. The ergonomic design also played a big part. I tried to play Volgarr the Viking, but found that it didn't work with the arcade stick. This was a game that would've played better with an arcade stick. I investigated this further. The Atrox didn't pick up as a Xbox One controller at all. In fact, no controller got listed under devices on the console. It meant that the arcade stick used a different driver to the base Xbox One gamepad. There are serious driver updates due for the device.

Conclusion

I liked the Atrox. Its strong build quality, tougher buttons and joystick all spoke of strength. The unit feels premium, barring the thin plastic on the outer fascia. The smooth opening and closing thanks to the hydraulic arm was a good touch. Having added space within the unit to store small items was a great bonus as well. Lack of driver capabilities brought a good product down in my eyes. There was also no headphone jack. I hope that Razer and Microsoft address these issues in future. It was sad not being able to play Volgarr the Viking on an old-school design like this. If you're looking for an arcade stick, stick with the Xbox 360 version for now. There is little reason to buy this edition just yet. That's unless you're really into Killer Instinct.

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