The Razer Panthera EVO (Amazon) is the latest edition arcade stick in Razer’s Panthera lineup.
Razer have overhauled the design and added their own custom components to the fightstick. It’s intended to be an improvement over the original Panthera. So have Razer achieved this? Read on to find out what I think.
Unboxing and set up – what’s in the box and how to set it up
Unboxing the Razer Panthera EVO feels like familiar territory as it’s pretty much the same as the original Panthera, including the nice packaging.
Included in the box is a manual and the fightstick. I’ve noticed that the cable is no longer removable so there’s no messing around with trying to attach the cable and then plugging it in. Instead, just simply plug in the fightstick and play.
As always the stick has to be assigned to the correct platform using a switch which is going to be either PS3 or PS4. On PC, the stick worked pretty much straight away with no issues.
The design and feel of the fightstick
The design of the EVO is similar to the original Panthera with a few exceptions. Firstly, there’s still the plastic exterior and metal base at the bottom, which has some anti-slip rubber strips. The original Panthera had two large rubber pads on the bottom instead of strips, but I find these work just as well on the EVO.
The surface of the stick, where all the action is, still has a nice glossy finish to it, which means it will potentially attract fingerprints or scratches. The big difference is just below the buttons and joystick, where you rest your palms, which is steeper and has an indent for your wrists. This gives the EVO a much more a sleeker look than the original. In addition, the surface area as a whole is a lot bigger, even though the EVO is the same size as the original Panthera.
The artwork, a large blue Razer logo, is essentially the same as the original. The big plus, this time around, is that the artwork can now be changed easily.
A lot of people will be pleased to know that the EVO now has a headphone jack where the previous one didn’t. This gives both game and mic audio which is definitely a welcome feature.
What does it feel like to play?
The main function buttons have been moved to the top right and are lined up accordingly, giving it a much cleaner look. There’s an added mute and volume button for the mic which is nice.
A significant change to the Panthera EVO is that it no longer has Sanwa buttons, instead, Razer has installed their own mechanical buttons, the same ones used in their keyboards.
Now, this may be worrying to some players, especially to fans of Sanwa like myself. It’s clear that Razer may have done this as some kind of cost-cutting solution. So that means they’re bad, right? Not necessarily. You see, I think Razer’s buttons work quite well – at least most of the time.
Playing Dragonball FighterZ I didn’t notice too much of a difference when pulling off combos and moves. The buttons are still highly responsive with little to no input lag. There were times where, however, where I felt the button were a bit sticky, especially compared to Sanwa. But it didn’t really detract too much from the gameplay. I still prefer Sanwa buttons but I have to give props to Razer for getting really close to the real deal.
The joystick is still Sanwa and, as expected, performs really well. So I have no complaints there.
As a whole, the stick feels quite comfortable to hold and has a nice solid weight to it.
This is where things get a bit controversial. Razer made the decision to remove the popup style case so getting inside the stick takes a little bit more effort and requires a flat-head screwdriver. It’s a shame as it was a really nice feature on the original Panthera.
Once inside, however, the stick is still as customizable as ever. The buttons can easily be swapped out and there’s some decent storage for parts. It doesn’t come with a bat top like the original Panthera had, not a deal breaker but it would have been nice to have included it.
- Premium and sleek design
- High-quality parts
- Comfortable to hold
- Highly responsive buttons and joystick
- Spacious Internal storage compartments
- Can now swap artwork
- Not as mod friendly as the original Panthera
- Razer buttons may sometimes stick after extended use
An improvement over the original Panthera in many ways, but lacks a couple of the key features that made the original so noteworthy.
The buttons can easily be swapped out however and whilst getting inside the stick take a bit more effort, it’s hardly difficult for the committed modder.