With the release of Tekken 8, I’ve been at a bit of a crossroads. I had no clue what controller I wanted to use to learn and beat the rest of the competition. A standard Xbox controller? PlayStation’s DualSense? A fightstick? Or maybe it’s time I looked to the future and tried out a hitbox controller? That last option is the one I’d ultimately go with, thanks to the .
Released last year, the Razer Kitsune is a hitbox-style fighting gamepad with no joystick. Its selling point is that it is sleeker than most hitbox controllers on the market and features high-quality buttons. It’s a great option for those who love that style of control, but don’t love carrying around a big, boxy gamepad. The true question, though, was whether or not I would prefer it over a classic gamepad, my Tekken comfort zone. I decided to take on a fighting game gauntlet with a day of matches with my little brother in just about every fighter I own to find out.
A hitbox controller is a stickless arcade pad. It retains all the classic attack buttons but replaces the directional stick with buttons. I would compare it to playing on a keyboard but with more comfortable buttons to press and the up button placed where your thumbs rest. You may have heard of it a few times due to the controversy it causes in the fighting game community over it being the “easy way” to play fighting games.
While this isn’t quite the “cheatbox” many call it, hitbox controllers offer plenty of advantages over gamepads and traditional arcade sticks. That’s because replacing a directional stick with buttons gives you more precise control over movements. While you may mistakenly hit an extra corner when doing a special move or going for advanced movement in a game on a stick, a hitbox allows you to simply press the directions instead of moving in that direction. This also lessens the load on the wrist, making it more comfortable for some.
These bonuses make the hitbox a perfect choice for a game that requires split-second directional inputs for attacks and movements. When I jumped into Tekken 8 with the Razer Kitsune, I immediately felt a difference from the pad I was playing on. My movement was more crisp. While things felt stiff on a gamepad, I could immediately move with purpose on the Kitsune.
This instant comfort wasn’t just due to the leverless style of the Kitsune but also to the buttons. I’ve never been a keyboard switch scientist, let alone a fightstick one. I’ve always just stuck with what’s pre-installed on whatever I buy. What’s pre-installed here are short switches that not only are quick to press but offer great feedback and feel great to the touch. When a button offers great response time, that goes hand in hand with the demands of a fighting game.
I could wavedash and Korean backdash (a deep Tekken technique) with minimal effort, but I wondered how it would fare in other fighters. I took it over to The King of Fighters, SoulCalibur, and Capcom classics Cyberbots and Vampire Savior. The Kitsune improved my performance across the board. In Vampire Savior, for instance, I was able to execute Zabel’s famously difficult low airdashes with ease. As an important bonus, the Kitsune never felt like it was going to slide out of my lap despite its small size, thanks to its grippy bottom material.
It only took one day of playing countless fighters with my little brother to know that the Kitsune would become a go-to controller for most fighting games. Surprisingly, I don’t think Tekken 8 will be one of those games. While it’s a fantastic controller, I find too much comfort in an Xbox gamepad that I can’t fully switch now that I’m used to it in Tekken. At the end of the day, it’s best to play on whatever you find the most comfortable.
But it’s always worth experimenting if you’re hitting a skill wall in games like Tekken 8. And as far as experiments go, the Razer Kitsune is a well-built gaming gadget that you’re sure to get some use out of. You’ll never catch me doing Zabel’s low instant airdashes in Vampire Savior on an arcade stick again.
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