The past if a powerful marketing tool in the hands of the right company. Razer figured out that building something that takes people back to a time when gaming was in its golden years can be both fun and profitable. Thus the Razer Atrox Arcade Stick was born.
Many companies and gaming studios are making a huge mistake because they think that games are for kids or teenagers, and discount the already existing gamers that have kids and a job.
You never see a commercial for a game in which a 40-year old dad is trying to play some online game. But, I bet that if we manage to somehow crunch those numbers, we would find that the vast majority of gamers, or at least a huge chunk of them, are actually past their 30s. And these are the same people that actually have the money to buy hardware and games, not having to get stuff from what their parents are providing.
It’s not clear just how many studios or companies are taking this into account, but I would say that it’s not a large number. For example, only a small few M-rated games are being released each year, although I have to admit that we’ve seen some improvements in the past couple of years.
The right hardware for the wrong time
Young gamers, especially from the western culture, are less likely to know that gaming existed before PCs and consoles. There was a time when yesterday’s kind and today’s adults were hitting the arcades to play games. Those establishments were all the rage, and that’s where everyone would be any given afternoon.
It’s easy to see why arcades influenced an entire generation of people, the same ones that now have jobs and kids of their own. But the arcades have gone away, for the most part, although some places managed to survive. And then there is Japan, which somehow managed to keep them alive, and pretty much in the same form.
Imagine you’re walking through a store, looking for a new Xbox One or PlayStation 4 controller, and you come across the Razer Atrox Arcade Stick. If you’re young, you might think that it’s something cool, but without an understanding of why it exists in the firts place. If you’re like me, all of the childhood memories are going to flood back in.
This should be the target audience for the Razer Atrox Arcade Stick, just people who want to relieve the old glory days of arcades, only this time they can do so in the comfort of their home. It’s the right type of hardware, but it feels like it’s in the wrong era. And the thing is that it’s not. It comes at the exact right time.
Design and functionality
The Razer Atrox Arcade Stick is a big piece of equipment, but it needs to be. Sure, they could have made it smaller and still retain pretty much the same hardware and general functionality, but it wouldn’t have been as fun to play with.
There are several reasons for the weight and blocky shape. First of all, it needs to be large because it also needs to be stable. Such controllers take a lot of abuse. You can’t move an arcade game, so you shouldn’t be able to move the Atrox as well, at least not without a lot of power.
Secondly, it’s a controller that needs to allow people to hold both of their hands on a flat surface, and that’s simply not possible if it’s not big enough. And thirdly, such a large housing provides a ton of space on the inside, and that relevant because it’s a special kind of controller that permits users to tinker with it, but we’ll come to that in a moment.
For the most part, it works just like a regular controller, and you don’t have to do anything extra to set it up. Just plug the controller in the Xbox’s USB, and you’re good to go. You will, however, notice the security feature on the cable, which can be screwed in the controller, and the small connector near the console USB that allows for the cable to unhook if someone trips from it, for example.
All of the buttons from a regular Xbox One controller are present, but with a different layout. The only extra button is used for locking some of the existing buttons, such as Xbox, Menu, and View so that you can’t hit them by mistake. To make things even more difficult for people that have a hard time containing their anger, the Menu and View buttons are actually on the side panel.
The best feature of this particular controller is the fact that it opens up, giving users access to the interior. At this point, you might be wondering why would you need such access, and you would be right to ask this question.
Most of the time, games don’t allow significant remapping for the controller buttons. There are a few exceptions out there, but people play the game with the default buttons the developers have implemented.
There are two ways to modify the controllers for a game. If it’s not possible from inside the game, then you can change the wires in the controller. Sounds simple enough, right? With Razer Atrox Arcade Stick it’s actually easy to do. The only caveat is that you follow their instructions.
Furthermore, they also provide a replacement for the bat top joystick, with a more rounded one for users that prefer it that way. The default joystick is the classic one with the round ball on top of the metal stick.
Another interesting addition, that’s probably there for the hardcore fans, is the inner platform, which is shaped like a honeycomb, allowing users to place extra hardware mods pretty much anywhere, without having to make sure that it needs to fit.
Razer also made it easy to change the artwork on the front of the controller, which is hidden under clear plastic. Removing that plastic is simple, and you can put anything in its place.
Last but definitely not least, I have to mention the actual buttons, which I’m sure that will illicit familiar feeling. The reason why those buttons bring back memories is that they are original Sanwa-made. These are the same buttons used in tournaments today, and from the same company that been making them for ages.
The result is some incredibly sturdy buttons that will last for an incredibly long time, no matter how mean you’re going to be to them.
A controller that changes everything
I was skeptical about using the Razer Atrox Arcade Stick because I figured that so many years of using a regular controller made me forget about old arcades. And I also thought that it couldn’t possibly be better than a controller, with has all the buttons much closer together and within easy reach.
I was wrong. As soon as I started to use the Razer Atrox Arcade Stick in Tekken 7 I felt the difference. And what a difference it was. I can now honestly say that in fighting games, at least, the simple controller is no match for such dedicated hardware.
And I’m pretty sure that a lot of people out there are going to appreciate just how moddable this hardware really is, and how easy Razer made it for users to change it.
Someone using the Razer Atrox Arcade Stick is going to be much better at pretty much any fighting game, and I’m not even counting all the other games that it could be potentially used for.
In any case, from now on, I’m going to look with disgust at my current controller. Using the Razer Atrox Arcade Stick and going back to the controller is like having an affair. Things are not going to be the same, anymore.