It’s been nearly four years since PC accessory company, Razer, dipped its feet in the console space with the release of the Atrox— a fighting stick aimed at enthusiasts on the Xbox One. Back then, the decision to release such an expensive, niche product was a head-scratcher. After all, there was only one serious fighting game on the console with Killer Instinct. But since those early days of the Xbox One, the console has seen a rapid influx of fighting games, ranging from Mortal Kombat X to Tekken 7 to the newly released Dragon Ball FighterZ, and everything in-between. Suddenly, the Atrox has a purpose and an audience.
On the face of the Atrox are eight Sanwa buttons— the go-to choice for professionals. Each button depresses with a satisfying click, and their sensitivity is top-notch, requiring only the lightest touch to activate. Though the sensitivity takes a little getting used to (especially when it comes to resting your hand on the stick’s body), it also ensures that buttons are suitably responsive. In my dozens of hours fighting through the Dragon Ball FighterZ story, I never once pressed a button and found it unresponsive. The joystick is equally responsive, with great range of motion inside a Sanwa octagonal gate. On the top of the Atrox is an Xbox guide button, along with a sliding lock to disable it during tournament play. On the right side of the controller are the View and Menu buttons (let’s just call them “start” and “select,” okay Microsoft?)
The top lid of the Atrox lifts up with the press of a button on the front of the unit. In a neat little touch, the lid is propped open by a hydraulic arm, which provides exceptionally smooth movement. Underneath is where things get interesting.
Careful attention has been paid to the “modability” of the Atrox. Each of the Sanwa buttons is removable and replaceable, as is the joystick (a Japanese-style ball joystick and American-style bat joystick are included, along with a screwdriver for easy swapping) and artwork underneath the plexiglass. In fact, Razer even offers a template for download on their website. So, you want a Rugrats-themed Atrox, you weirdo? Easy.
The overall sturdiness of the Atrox is wonderful. The fightstick feels substantial, and hardy enough to take a serious beating, which is great news for traveling tournament players. I never once worried about smashing buttons or slapping the joystick hard against its restrictor plate.
The bottom of the stick features a premium rubber pad, which is grippy enough to secure it on your lap and to keep it from sliding on a table. Combined with the Atrox’s weight, there’s no way this thing will be moving during precarious Killer Instinct juggles. In fact, there’s only one single component that worries me; the detachable cable.
You see, the cable that connects the Atrox to the Xbox One or PC is simultaneously brilliant and infuriating. One the positive side, it’s sufficiently long, locks into the stick to prevent any accidental disconnects, and features a breakaway cable that original Xbox owners will remember well. Unfortunately, the smart design also comes with one glaring problem; the cable itself is proprietary. This would be easier to swallow if Razer sold the cables independently, but they don’t. After the generous one-year warranty, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get a replacement when your dog gnaws on it. When you consider the stick is made to travel— to tournaments, especially— the decision doesn’t inspire confidence.
Even less confidence is imparted by Razer’s support page, which stipulates that out-of-warranty repairs are not possible, but that their support team will “try our best to accommodate you” should the cable break. Boy, that sure is convincing!
Another nit to pick is the lighted Razer logo on the front of the Atrox, which pulses an annoying bright green. In a well-lit room, it’s unnoticeable, but it’s supremely annoying in the dark. Given the customizable nature of the stick, I could probably unscrew the logo’s housing and disable the LED, but that’s an added chore that I don’t want to worry about. For now, that logo is hidden by electrical tape.
Any serious fighting game fan should own a premium fightstick. Whether you decide to build your own or go with an other brand like Razer, Hori, Qanba, or Mad Catz, there’s just no replacing the convenience of an arcade experience. At $199, the Atrox doesn’t come cheap, but the overall quality of the stick makes the high price worth it.