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Razer Arcade Stick hands-on: a better joystick, even in beta

Razer Arcade Stick beta
Razer Arcade Stick beta
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Gaming hardware maker Razer, known for its keyboard, mice, and headphones, is releasing its own arcade stick built with fighting game aficionados in mind. The Razer Arcade Stick, currently in a public beta test, was announced at last year's Tokyo Game Show, but the controller made a repeat performance this year, appearing largely unchanged from its pre-beta version.

Razer's arcade stick is built with DIY modification in mind. The company plans to ship the stick with standard Sanwa parts — buttons and ball-top stick — but Razer is making it simple to swap in personalized hardware. The arcade stick pops open with a press of the Razer logo-emblazoned button on the front of the stick. Inside is a set of tools, storage for extra parts, and easy access to key components.

The stick features a honeycombed interior panel, designed to allow players to install custom lighting options for extra flashiness.

While the genuine Sanwa buttons and stick go a long way to making the Razer arcade stick feel like a rock solid option, it was the real estate of the front panel that made the controller feel most comfortable. There's ample room to rest one's hands and enough surface area on top to not be distracted by edges.

Razer representatives at Tokyo Game Show say the company's arcade stick does not currently have a release date or retail price. The stick is currently planned to have Xbox 360 compatibility, though the company is considering versions of the controller for other platforms.

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