It’s pretty obvious that the fighting community is big enough for peripheral makers to consider fightsticks to give them that “arcade” feeling. Such examples include the superb Victrix Pro and the Razer Panthera, available in a number of models — including Dragon Ball FighterZ and, my personal favorite, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite. But they’re also priced pretty high, so those that are looking for that awesome fighting experience will have to pay through the nose for it.
With that, Razer has come up with a new solution — a smaller fightpad that delivers the precision needed for fighting games, but without the bulky size to have to carry it everywhere. It’s the Razer Raion, and though it’s not quite available in all markets yet (like the U.S.), it’s something for fighting fans to consider. Everyone else, however, well, hang tight.
The controller features a D-pad with no analog sticks to speak of, along with six face buttons on the right side, easily accessible function buttons, and the ability to toggle a switch to change the functionality of these into analog-style performance. It’s a unique feature, though obviously not as comfortable as using actual sticks. But, hey, gotta have something.
The pad also features a Touchpad, something you don’t really see on too many fighting models; as well as control functions for in-game voice chat, should you have a headset attached. The rest is pretty general Razer design, with a solid black coloring and a cord that connects back to your PS4 or PC, with a pretty good length on it. (You won’t be straining to use this one.)
The pad itself is richly designed, with the kind of spacing needed to avoid errors, for the most part. If you’re still nervous, you can deactivate the options button by pressing the two separate headset buttons at the bottom. That’ll take care of any “accidents”.
The D-pad performs decently enough, as we were able to pull off special moves with ease — even complex super moves in Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Edition. As for the buttons, they’re kind of a mixed bag.
They perform admirably, to say the least. But…they’re also mushy. That’s not to say they don’t respond, but I kind of miss the “click” thing that I’ve heard on other controllers when pressing them in. Don’t let that deter you, though. It’s a feel sort of thing, and fighting fans will like what’s offered here.
Just a couple of other things. First, while the controller is good for platforming games (I tried it with Contra Anniversary Collection and Disney’s The Lion King/Aladdin), I did notice a slight bit of drift with the D-pad playing these. That’s not to say you’re headed for an accidental death, but it’s a bit off. Also, the buttons can react a bit differently with functions like “jump” and “attack,” instead of the usual punch and leg operations. To each their own, but I think I prefer a typical controller when playing other games.
Also…the Razer Raion is surprisingly light. There’s not really that much weight to the controller at all. I assume the company built it that way out of convenience, compared to hauling around a weighty Fightstick. But still, you’d think they would’ve added something to give the Raion a little more heaviness. (It doesn’t have any built-in rumble features.)
The controller design is sleek, and looks very good sitting in your hands. It’s also nice to see where the Touchpad and home button are placed, again avoiding any kind of “accidents” during rough match-ups. We had no trouble throwing things around like a pro in FighterZ, though part of me still misses playing with the Panthera. I’ll get back to it someday. However, I did notice that the Touchpad doesn’t light up like it did over with the Wolverine. It would’ve been nice to add some glowing color here, aside from the general white.
Oh, and there are some programmable features. You can actually set up the shoulder buttons for extra functionality, in case you want to hit all the buttons at once for a super or something like that. The procedure is slightly complicated, but the payoff is worth it when you finish your opponent off in style. It’s pretty cool. That said, I didn’t see anything for those wanting to fiddle with macro function. Maybe there’ll be an update later on.
Lastly, the controller is priced at $99.99. Considering its lack of weight and somewhat mushy buttons, that may be a hard sell for some. But it is more affordable than the $200+ Fightsticks on the market, if you’re looking for an alternative that won’t break your wallet. You’ll just have to wait for a bit, though — it’s currently not available in the U.S. or Canada, just overseas. Razer hopes to solve this dilemma soon.
In the end, when it comes to fighting games, the Razer Raion is a worthy investment. If you spend your time taking part in consistent matches of Mortal Kombat 11 or Street Fighter V, this definitely isn’t a bad investment. However, I would like to see things tweaked in a future revision of the pad, particularly with better D-pad recognition and buttons that click a little more, compared to being “mushed” down. It could also use a little more heftiness in the weight, so it won’t slip out of your grip so easily.
I do like the design and a lot of the functionality, as there are a world of possibilities with this controller. I just hope that Razer keeps on refining it so we’ll have a real contender on our hands. For now, this is a good buy for fans of fighting games, but everyone else can probably stick with a good Fightstick instead. Maybe the Panthera?