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Razer Raion Fightpad review: A high-quality controller where precision is everything

Posted by Steven 'Dreamking23' Chavez • November 6, 2019 at 3:11 p.m. PST • Comments: 41

Razer recently released their latest fighting game peripheral, the Raion Fightpad, to provide yet another way for players to throw fireballs and uppercuts to their hearts' content.

This controller puts a focus on bringing the feel of arcade-style controls to a handheld pad. Though the Raion does succeed in doing so, to an extent, at the end of the day traditional pad users will likely get the most out of this new tool.

The Razer Raion features a 6-face-button layout to bring the feel of an arcade stick to the palm of your hand. It also comes equipped with a mecha-tactile 8-way D-Pad meant to make inputs precise and accurate.

At first glance, this controller is reminiscent of the old Mad Catz Street Fighter 4 fightpads that sported artwork of characters like Ryu, Blanka, Ken, Chun-Li, and the like. While the feel is similar, Razer's pad is designed to be a higher quality peripheral.

For the face buttons, Razer used their own Razer Yellow Switches to replicate the feel of the mechanical push buttons you'd find on a standard arcade stick. After using the pad extensively, I don't feel as though replication was necessarily achieved here, but the Raion's buttons do feel good in their own way and are easier to press than what you'd find on a standard video game controller.

The buttons are also slightly larger than the industry standard, making for more accurate inputs. Due to the way the controller is set up, players can opt to hold it as they would a regular video game controller or bring the right hand over and tap the buttons like an arcade stick.

As an avid fightstick user, I found the latter position becoming uncomfortable after a bit of playtime because the buttons are smaller and closer together than a traditional arcade stick. This also led to consistency issues with my inputs, though having fairly large hands might have also been a contributor here. That's not to say players wouldn't be able to adapt to the Raion's construction, but a full transition for fightstick users might take some time.

The Raion itself is comfortable in-hand, though. Its size, shape, and feel do make for playing it in either position a breeze. Plus, the textured grip on the back of each handle helps keep it from slipping out of your hands when the battle gets intense.

Razer notes that the Raion's D-Pad allows you to "streamline your execution with clean diagonal inputs for greater precision." While that is a true statement, it's also ended up being somewhat of a double-edged sword for me.

One of the perks I've always felt of using a D-Pad for fighting games is that because the directional inputs are closer together and the distance traveled is less than that of an arcade stick, you can get inputs in faster without having to be quite as accurate. The Raion's D-Pad, though comfortable, does require precise inputs, and I actually found myself running into an issue consistently with blocking low because of that.

With a standard D-Pad, holding a vertical and horizontal input at the same time gives you a diagonal input. Doing so with the Raion often made it so that I was only holding one or the other, meaning I wasn't getting the down back input I needed to properly block.

At first I wondered if there was something functionally wrong with the controller as this would happen seemingly randomly throughout the course of a match. But taking it into training mode and looking at the inputs, I saw that I was failing to get the proper diagonal input by pressing this way, and realized that I had to hit the circular space between the two directions if I wanted a diagonal input.

All of that having been said, once you get past the initial hurdles the Raion does deliver with responsive inputs. I can certainly see how a hardcore, competitive pad-player could benefit from the functionality of this controller.

For me personally, the optimal way to use the Raion was with a standard grip. I got the most out of it when I did so, with my inputs feeling more consistent than with the arcade-style way of play.

The Raion also plays host to a competitive mode that locks the Share and Options buttons to prevent accidental presses, as well as a headset jack on the bottom complete with microphone and volume buttons. Both of these features worked well and are welcome additions to any tournament-grade peripheral.

Closing thoughts: If you're a pad player looking to up your game, the Razer Raion is a high-quality controller that feels great and allows for more precision in your inputs. The slightly larger and easier to hit buttons make performing attacks a smooth process, and the overall construction of the controller will stay comfortable in-hand even in the longest of sets.

For a fightstick user like me, I don't feel like the Razer Raion would end up taking the place of what I'm used to, but if you have the chance to try it out yourself, I'd suggest doing so.

The Razer Raion will run you $99.99 USD / €109.99 and is available now in Europe, Asia-Pacific, China, Australia, and New Zealand. A release in the USA and Canada is expected soon.

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