Razer Panthera Arcade Stick Review: Fun to Use, Even Better to Perform
+ Very Attractive Design
+ Comes with a Ball Top and a Bat Top
+ Spacious Storage Compartment
+ Cuts Down Time for Button Actuation / Actions Execute Faster
+ Compatible with the PS4, PS3, and PC
+ eSports-grade Arcade Stick
- Should Have a Bit More Space Between Joystick and Buttons
- It's Painfully Difficult to Change the Panel Artwork
This is our review of the eSports-grade Razer Panthera arcade stick, the PlayStation-equivalent of the Razer Atrox arcade stick for the Xbox utilizing genuine Sanwa parts. There’s a reason why this is a popular stick among those in the Fighting Game Community.
Razer Panthera Arcade Stick Review
There is a huge selection of controllers that gamers can use to play their favourite games. Some of these controllers were designed for a specific videogame genre. For fighting games, there is one designed especially for it and it’s known as an arcade stick. At first, it’s meant to emulate the feel of an arcade machine but over the years, it has shown to be more effective than traditional gamepads. Today, we’re going to dive into an eSports-grade arcade stick simply known as the Razer Panthera.
Unboxing the Razer Panthera
We actually made an unboxing post for this earlier on but if you missed out on it, you can check out the video right above here. If you want to know about some additional details that we’ve posted in the unboxing post, click here to get up to speed.
There are plenty of fight sticks available in the market and over time, we’ve seen all sorts of designs for those respective sticks. The Razer Panthera arcade stick is without a doubt one of the best looking ones in the market right now. You can see Razer’s iconin 3-headed snake logo clearly but you may find yourself thinking why is it in blue when Razer is usually green.
Keep in mind that this one was designed with the PlayStation 4 in mind, which is why the colour theme is blue and black, reminiscent of the PS4 (also the PS2 but this isn’t built for that). Had it been green, it would’ve stayed true to Razer’s theme but it might also be mistaken for something meant for the Xbox One / 360 instead.
On the top, you can clearly see the joystick, Cross, Square, Triangle, Circle, R1, R2, L1, and L2 buttons in a typical arcade style layout. Right above that, you’ll see the R3, L3, and PS buttons along with 3 switches and a touchpad like the one found on the DualShock 4 gamepad. By default, the joystick uses the ball top but you can switch it out with a bat top as it is included inside.
On the right side is where 2 other buttons are located. When in use with the PS4, it is the Options and Share buttons whereas for the PS3, it is the Start and Select buttons. There’s nothing on the left side so no worries there. On the back is where the 5-pin aviation connector is located, which is where you will be using the detachable screw-lock USB cable on.
On the front, it may seem like there’s nothing but a Razer logo but in truth, that is actually a button for you to open up the Razer Panthera arcade stick. Inside, you will see a rather spacious storage compartment where the bat top, screwdriver, and USB cable is stored. You can also see the wires, which have been colour-coded in case you need to do some DIY work on it like modding and repairs, and circuits inside. You can also see here that it is clearly using the Sanwa Square Gate for its joystick, which one of the more popular ones out there right now compared to the circle and octagonal gates.
On the bottom is a rubber grip with the 3-headed snake logo at the center. This was clearly done to avoid having it accidentally move around on whatever surface it’s being placed on during intense game sessions. Given its size and weight however, it shouldn’t move at all anyway but the added touch certainly makes it look and feel more premium.
As beautiful as it looks, many gamers out there might want to have their own artwork on their fight sticks instead for that added bit of personalization. Unfortunately, this is where the bad news comes in. The top panel acrylic is no longer screwed in and seems to be glued on, which makes removing it in order to change to your own artwork a lot harder. It’s not impossible, but it would’ve been a lot easier had the panel been screwed in instead.
Overall, the Razer Panthera is a sexy looking arcade stick that will surely grab many people’s attention. It’s designed to be mod-friendly but the personalization can be limited if you’re not willing to go through the hassle, such as with removing the top acrylic panel. It definitely oozes out an aura of premium all around, which can make any owner feel proud having one for themselves.
- 10 tournament-grade Sanwa buttons
- Authentic Sanwa joystick with ball top and additional bat top
- Easy one-touch access to internals and storage
- Fully accessible internals and storage compartments for easy modding
- Honeycomb structure on the inside for easy screw mounting
- Storage room for alternative bat top joystick and more
- 9.8 ft / 3 m detachable screw-lock USB cable for secure connection
- Screwdriver included for modding
I’ve been used to playing any and every game either with a gamepad or a keyboard / mouse combo, which means I needed to get used to playing with a fight stick. Given I’ve spent a lot of my youth in the local arcades, I am already familiar with the button layout so it was pretty easy to adapt.
As you can see from the video at the top of the User Experience section, I played Tekken 7 with the Razer Panthera arcade stick using Dragunov. Just like mechanical keyboards, some of you may be curious to know what the buttons sound like, among other things, so the video would be a good demonstration for that.
The Razer Panthera arcade stick is very fun to use, and I feel like I can execute certain moves with better consistency compared to using the standard DualShock 4, albeit after getting used to it for about a week or so. In fact, characters with a Back, Forward, Attack command integral to their combos such as Kazumi is a lot easier to play as there’s less effort compared to a D-pad.
The buttons are similar in concept to Razer’s Raiju PS4 controller, in the sense that it’s meant to cut down the time it takes for you to push down a button so the action that you want to take will execute faster. As such, there is practically no resistance when you press down the buttons, nor is there any form of tactile feedback.
The joystick itself, which uses the Sanwa Square Gate, is quite easy to use. To understand the Square Gate, imagine if you will a square shape where the joystick can register / move in 8 different directions. Unlike the Octagonal and Circle Gate, it is balanced all-around which makes it easy for most people to use. That is not to say the other Gates are bad as some may choose to opt for those depending on their play style and the game itself.
I tried using both the ball top and bat top and while at first I started to like the bat top after switching, I started to realize that my plays were more consistent with the ball top. Keep in mind that this is mostly preference as the arcades over here all use a ball top. You can switch this out anytime you want as long as you have the screwdriver with you, which is in the storage compartment.
Speaking of the storage compartment, it is certainly very handy as you can keep pretty much anything you need for the Razer Panthera arcade stick inside, such as the screwdriver, the USB cable, and the bat top / ball top. You can even keep a couple of PS4 physical game / jewel cases inside and it wouldn’t be a problem.
I have no problems with the button placements (including the switches and the touchpad), and they’re all easily accessible. However, I do wish the joystick was distanced a bit further from the buttons as I feel that it’s a bit too close together. Not to the point where you will accidentally press when moving around but rather, it would be more comfortable. Regardless, it is still a joy to use and I can see why it’s a popular choice for eSports / the Fighting Game Community.
Razer Panthera Arcade Stick Verdict
The Razer Panthera arcade stick is a great peripheral for those who not only enjoy fighting games, but also take it very seriously such as for eSports. I can feel that I perform better in Tekken 7 on this compared to the standard controller. Given its multi-platform compatibility, how easy it is to use as well as how attractive it looks, I understand why it is such a popular fight stick.
Of course, nothing is perfect in this world and this does have some flaws. For one, the top acrylic panel isn’t screwed in anymore and is essentially glued, so you can’t exactly change the artwork unless you’re willing to go through some trouble. Also, I feel that the joystick and the buttons should have a bit more distance between for added comfort. These issues are minor and it might not even matter to you depending on what you need in a fight stick.
Keep in mind, this is a premium fight stick so it’s not cheap by any means but if you’re willing to fork out the money and you are serious about taking your gaming to the next level, it is worth every cent. With that in mind, I award the Razer Panthera arcade stick with our prestigious Gold Pokdeward!