The eSports scene is growing. It’s not hard to see why. Players competing for huge cash prizes, fame and glory by playing the games that they love, it’s hard to knock. Also growing is the market for gaming peripherals aimed at eSports competitors. Controllers with embedded paddles, mice with a hundred hotkey buttons and, of course, arcade sticks. We have been lucky enough to get our hands on the Razer Panthera.
Fight sticks are the number one choice for fighting game competitors and enthusiasts. Their huge buttons and protruding joysticks make performing the most complex combos a whole lot easier. They bring with them a feeling of nostalgia too as most arcade machines use the same button layout, the only thing missing being a coin slot.
Panthera the Beast
Top of the fight stick range is the Razer Panthera. A badass name for a badass product. Razer supplied us with a special Dragon Ball FighterZ edition of the Panthera for review. Out of the box, it’s a thing of beauty. The eight orange large face buttons nicely placed on the top of a plastic cover with the Dragon Ball FighterZ key art beautifully laden across its entirety, with seven of the eight buttons decorated with each of the Dragon Ball designs. It’s hard to look away from it.
Hammer the Buttons and Wiggle the Sticks
The plastic cover is atop a tough metal trimmed plastic box with a rubber clad on the underside to prevent slipping. It does its job without fault, whether it was on my lap or a tabletop. It’s extremely comfortable to use as you simply rest on it with your fingers hovering over the buttons.
Above the buttons and joystick, a couple of switches allow for some unique functions. One changes your system of use from PS4 to PS3 and back again, another to nominate the joystick as the left stick, right stick or a D-pad, and finally a slider that locks and unlocks the Start/Options and Select/Share buttons found on the right side of the base. Below the stick and buttons is the famous and instantly recognisable triple serpent logo of Razer, which lights up when it’s in use. This time, the logo is a button which, when pressed, flips up the plastic fascia to reveal a secret compartment.
The compartment isn’t pretty to look at. With the wired-up buttons and stick in full view, it’s not a pretty sight. This is where the USB lead is found, however, neatly stashed in a compartment of its own. Beside this, a small screwdriver and a space that houses the fully customisable joystick tops. Switching from the standard spherical top to a paddle top was painless and simple.
Don’t Be Mod at Me
Above these small compartments is a generously big space to store pretty much anything you want. The Panthera is marketed as ‘mod capable’. I am unsure as to how that can be. Maybe changing the button layout? Changing the buttons themselves? Or even changing the fascia if Dragon Ball FighterZ doesn’t suit your taste. Don’t know why it wouldn’t, it’s one of the best fighting games in years (read my review HERE).
So how does the Panthera perform? Bloody fantastic! Although I favour controllers in every situation, playing with the Panthera felt great. The buttons had a satisfying click to them, and mashing on them (not vigorously, of course) made me feel like I was on stage at an EVO tournament. Each of the button presses, each quarter-circle motion of the joystick, they had zero delay. Unleashing a Shinku-Hadoken in Street Fighter V or a Kamehameha in the game beautifully represented on the top of the unit, they were performed with such ease that it left my mouth agape.
No eSports for You!
I’ll admit, the Panthera isn’t going to turn me into an eSports legend. Justin Wong or Daigo Umehara I am not, but that won’t stop you from having fun with it. That is, of course, if your wallet is deep enough and you have money to burn. The Panthera costs a small fortune. Rightly so, I guess. It’s beautifully made and crafted with extreme expertise using top notch quality materials.
But it’s designed purely for fighting games. That’s one genre to spend in excess of £200 for, and it’s a bit much for your average casual gamer. Competitive gamers though, or aptly named ‘professional’ gamers, will find nothing better in existence than the Panthera. You’ll look the dog’s testicles turning up to EVO rocking this beast.
Platforms: PS3, PS4
Release Date: 2018
Buy your own Razer Panthera Dragon Ball FighterZ edition HERE!