Review: Razer Panthera Arcade Stick for PlayStation 4/PlayStation 3

Review: Razer Panthera Arcade Stick for PlayStation 4/PlayStation 3

Product: Razer Panthera Arcade Stick for PlayStation 4/PlayStation 3
Release Date: December 3, 2016
Manufacturer: Razer
Original MSRP: $199.99
This product was provided by the manufacturer for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this product is available on Episode 532 of the podcast at 64:45.

The Razer Panthera Arcade Stick is actually the company’s second foray into the world of fight sticks. Known more for their PC gaming focus, Razer introduced its first fightstick, the Razer Atrox for the Xbox 360, in May/June 2013 and eventually updated it for Xbox One a year later.

That initial stick came out of dozens of prototypes and a very extensive Beta testing phase. Unfortunately none of that brought to light the long term issues with the stick which included failing hinges and a faulty USB connector, the latter of which was exposed in spectacular fashion during the grand finals at Evo 2015. There was also the issue of tournaments starting to swing decidedly towards the PlayStation 4.

Razer took all the knowledge gained from thousands of hours of real world usage and put it into a refined and updated version of the stick, the Panthera. At first glance, it would seem that the Panthera is just a rebranded Atrox but there’s actually a bit more going on here.

The most obvious change is the inclusion of the touch pad from the DualShock 4. In fact, the entire top area is very reminiscent of the Mad Catz fightsticks for the PS4.

Along with the touch pad you have the L3 and R3 buttons, the PlayStation button, a numbered indication of what controller the stick is assigned to, 1-4, a switch for PS3 or PS4 usage, a Left Stick/Right Stick/D-Pad switch, and a lock/unlock switch which can disable the Options/Start Share/Select buttons on the side of the unit.

… customization is quite simple should you desire to do so …
The stick is attached to the PlayStation 4 or 3 with a thirteen foot detachable braided cable. It’s a breakaway cable so it should pop out instead of dragging your stick off your lap should something happen, but I’m not eager to test that out.

Another nice addition is the ability to upgrade the firmware in the stick which has already been put to good use. When it released, the stick only allowed for DirecInput which wouldn’t work with a PC. An XInput driver update is now available that will allow you to use the stick with a PC when you set it to PS4 mode. Pretty sweet.

The Panthera is built using Sanwa Denshi parts and customization is quite simple should you desire to do so. Pushing the large button with the Razer logo on it, the lid opens up to reveal a clean, well-labelled space.

There’s a storage area for the USB cable, a custom compartment for the small flat tip, cross tip screwdriver, and a bat top joystick grip that you can use to replace the ball top grip if you’d like.

… I never came across any feelings of lag or missed inputs …
The wires connecting the buttons are all color coded and labelled. Swapping the buttons out is as simple as popping off the connectors with the flat tip side of the screwdriver and pulling the buttons out. The stick itself has a square gate which can be easily swapped for an octagonal one if that’s your preference.

As for gameplay, the stick and the buttons all feel very responsive. The L3 and R3 buttons are placed directly above the other eight and easily within reach which can be useful if you want to map any custom functions to them depending on the game.

While testing it with half a dozen fighting games and a handful of arcade games I never came across any feelings of lag or missed inputs. Everything feels tight and works as you’d expect with a $200 stick and the rubber base keeps it in place either on your lap or a nice flat table.

One area of concern is in the opening and closing of the unit. While the hinges themselves look sturdy, there’s a single pneumatic connector on the left side.

… a good quality fightstick …
That connector will definitely put less strain on the hinges but the manual stresses using both hands spread on either side of the lid when closing the compartment and I think this is an area that can become problematic if you get lazy when doing it.

The other minor issue, which may be a big one for some people, is that you can’t customize the face of the stick. It comes with a dark background and large blue Razer logo which looks nice enough, but there’s no way to change that out and make it your own.

Conclusion:
Overall this is a good quality fightstick. While it may look like an old Atrox with some minor changes, the Atrox was a pretty good stick to begin with. A better USB cable, stronger hinges, and thicker plastic all around make this a much more solid unit.

While you can’t customize the graphics on the faceplate, pretty much everything else is up for grabs. There is a limited edition Street Fighter V version of the stick which just gives you a different graphic on the faceplate for the same price so at least there’s one other option.

The build quality is solid, the buttons are responsive, and it weighs in at around six pounds so it’s not terribly heavy to travel with. Plus it works on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PC. What more could you ask for?

Score:
9.0

* All images used in this review were provided by the manufacturer.

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Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 25 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation – minus the Switch.

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