I can count on one hand the number of arcade sticks I’ve had the whole time I’ve been gaming. Don’t get me wrong, I have tons of experience playing with them; growing up in the 90s and being a huge arcade gamer pretty much ensured that.
The first one I ever had was a Chinese knockoff (I don’t even remember what it was called) for the PS1. The second, was the one packed in with the Tekken 6 Collector’s edition, which was Hori branded.
Both satisfied my needs at the time but it wasn’t until I got my hands on Razer’s Panthera Evo did I find out how much I was missing.
What is the Razer Panthera Evo?
The Razer Panthera Evo is an enhanced version of the original Razer Panthera arcade stick. It’s wired and meant for the PS4 (though PC connectivity is also possible).
The stick uses Razer’s proprietary mechanical buttons (the same found in their mechanical keyboards), along with a Sanwa stick. It’s on an 8 button layout (as opposed to the traditional 6 that you’d find on an arcade machine).
On the top right of the machine, you’ll find dip switches to switch between controller emulation for the stick. That allows you to have the stick function as a digital pad or analog stick. You’d think that this would be a weird feature, but some games actually won’t respond if you’re not using analog or digital inputs or vice versa.
The rest of the PS4 DualShock 4 buttons are also replicated on top; the Home button, the trackpad, even the R3 and L3 buttons.
The arcade stick’s attached to a 3-meter long cable that’s perfect if you’re gaming on a couch or far from the PS4. Cable management is handled with an elegant compartment at the top of the peripheral. You can just open it up and stuff in the cable there when you’re not using the arcade stick. It’s rather roomy and can fit in the 3 meter cable without much fuss.
The stick also contains a 3.5mm jack so you can use a headset while gaming on it, perfect if you want to zone out distraction and just focus on playing.
One last thing to note; the artwork for the stick is easily customizable.
Razer provides templates on its website, and all you need is an image editing program like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator and you’re on your way to have your own custom looking Panthera Evo!
The Razer Panthera Evo goes for SGD$329.90.
How does the Razer Panthera Evo feel?
In one word; awesome.
I’ve never had a chance to test out the original Panthera, but the Panthera Evo is definitely in a class of its own.
One of the best things that I love about the stick is its weight.
The Razer Panthera Evo definitely has heft to it so that it won’t slip and slide (it even has rubberized sections underneath to hold it in place). Playing with it on my thighs never got uncomfortable, even after marathon sessions of SFV, SoulCalibur VI and King of Fighters: The Orochi Saga.
The Sanwa stick is as responsive as you’d expect from a product from the company but it’s certainly the Razer buttons that stand out for me.
I’ve played on a ton of Sanwa and Seimitsu sticks (including the excellent Mad Catz SFIV TE) and the Razer buttons’ responsiveness are on par with even the best those two companies have to offer.
You don’t even need to hammer the buttons to get your commands to be recognized.
Even resting my fingers on them activates them. I was accidentally triggering the R1 button all the time in games until I forced myself not to rest my pinky on the button. That’s how sensitive they bad boys are.
No matter what game I played, the stick held up. I played 2D fighters (SFV, BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend, KoF Orochi Saga), I played 3D fighters (Tekken 7, SoulCalibur VI, Dead or Alive 6)… You’ll find that response is NOT an issue and the only mistakes you’ll make are from your inaccurate input.
The Razer buttons also sound nice and loud.
I’m a huge fan of clicky buttons (due to my arcade background) and hearing the click clack of the buttons is an integral part of my enjoyment. You might want to swap the Razer switches for quieter parts (perhaps Sanwa’s) if you’re not into the noise though.
Not only does the stick succeed at what it aims to do, it’s also awesome at secondary functions. Remember the 3.5mm jack I mentioned?
Razer’s smartly placed it at the lower right side of the stick, on the same face as the Options and Share buttons. What it means is that you’ll be free from getting tangled up in your headset cord while also being near you enough to cater to headsets with shorter cables.
Ease of customization.
If you’re thinking of tweaking the stick to your preference, you’ll be happy to know that it’s fully modable.
The graphics for the top panel can easily be swapped out by unscrewing a screw at the bottom of the machine and the buttons can be changed if you unscrew the case.
While removing the artwork is no fuss (you don’t even need to unscrew the whole thing), I just wish swapping out buttons is easier and faster. That’s just a minor detraction but I reckon those who buy this would probably be the hardest of hardcore and they may want to swap out the Razer switches for Sanwa ones.
How can the Razer Panthera Evo be better?
The only thing that comes to mind on how the stick can be better is if it’s wireless (while also still retaining its wired capability).
Sure, there might be some lag to inputs but perhaps the wireless tech in the Razer Basilisk Ultimate gaming mouse can be reused here. It’d certainly be a great addition for those who aren’t using the mouse in a competitive setting or don’t want wires cluttering their gaming room.
The price might rise but if you’re already looking into getting a premium arcade stick like the Razer Panthera Evo, chances are you’d be willing to shell out a bit more for convenience.
As mentioned earlier, easier access to the innards would also be much appreciated if Razer does one day update the Panthera Evo.
The bottom line.
The Razer Panthera Evo stick is definitely one of the best (if not the best) arcade sticks I’ve ever used.
Nearly every aspect of the peripheral is well thought out and engineered; from the ease of changing the visuals to the responsive buttons to the placement of the headphone jack…everything just screams quality at you.
I’d have loved it a ton more if it was wireless and easier to mod, but those are relatively minor niggles to what is an incredible product.
If you’re looking for an awesome premium arcade stick, you can’t go wrong with the Razer Panthera Evo.
One of the best sticks on the market, barring some minor (no wireless, hard to open case to mod) annoyances.
- Quality construction.
- Responsive buttons.
- Easy to change artwork.
- Roomy cable management compartment.
- Not wireless.
- Hard to mod.