The FGC is an oddity, man. Like the unholy fusion of motorheads and DIY Dads they’ve somehow carved a niche for themselves in the weirdest ways- namely controllers. Do you like them like a regular game pad? What about a joystick and 8 buttons? What about no sticks an all buttons?
That last question is the niche the Razer Kitsune fills. Dubbed leverless controllers, they’ve been on the uptick in fighting game scenes, providing a great alternative to players who want more precise inputs or simply hate churning their sticks. The problem is, their use cases are so specific they’re locked behind the FGC’s patent brand of obfuscation- until a more mass-appeal brand like Razer gets involved, that is.
Much To Say About Buttons
The Razer Kitsune, like many leverless sticks, is an object all about precision. It’s not just the interface, which eschews a traditional arcade stick in favor of directional buttons. Instead, it really does feel like the Razer Kitsune is fine-tuned to be everything you’d want in a controller.
The buttons on the Kitsune feel incredibly good to use. As a veteran of charge characters like Leo Whitefang and Q, leverless controllers are incredibly satisfying, since you can easily hold back to charge a Rush Punch or Down if your opponent’s about to eat an Eisensturm.
Instead of having mechanical switches, the Kitsune’s optical ones will feel noticeably different compared to other, bulkier sticks. While it may feel alienating to jump to, I do think there’s some good logic to this. Since you’re essentially typing out your combos rather than churning them, having lighter switches feels like a good way to enforce that thinking.
I should point out, if you’re jumping over to leverless sticks from levered there absolutely will be a learning curve. Circle inputs will require more effort, since you’re essentially linking all your button presses together like a piano instead of churning a joystick. You will need to take care of these when you’re trying to do more complex inputs- I can’t imagine the stress of being a Zangief main trying to do 720s on this.
That precision has its benefits, too. As someone prone to panic, using the direction buttons also means no more accidental jumping when trying to do a DP or Hadoken motion. Like many other leverless sticks jumping is instead positioned to be under your thumb- so that means only decisively hitting the up button when it’s time to land that flash kick.
No Sore Arms, Only Sore Losers
We also need to talk about the Kitsune’s second biggest strength- its weight. Look, I have a big, bulky fightstick. It’s partially because I fidget around so much, big sticks are more stable that way. But the downside is that they’re incredibly heavy- one time while circling my Locals looking for a free setup I held on to my stick so long my arms were sore the next day.
The Kitsune on the other hand, just doesn’t have that problem. It’s absurdly light and tiny- meaning you won’t need to worry about getting a giant attache just to move it around inconspicuously. The size also means its more open to different kinds of setups- I could easily have room on my desk if I wanted to have the Razer Kitsune on the table as opposed to my lap- and it’s for the better like that.
For those of you only just entering the fightstick market, I do need to stress how hard it is to get a good leverless fightstick outside the US, especially if you’re in the SEA region. Geting a leverless at all is an endeavor, and many of the ones you will find online tend to be of the heavier variety and harder to bring around for your travels.
If nothing else, this is the crowning glory of the Razer Kitsune- it’s good for newer players who want to play leverless but aren’t ready to deal with the complicated question of how to get one when most of the manufacturers are US-based.
Lots Of Quality Of Life
Finally, there’s also the case for how much easier things are with the Razer Kitsune. Aside from being incredibly light it’s also incredibly convenient- the cable is detachable, and there’s a neat locking mechanism to make sure you don’t accidentally get accused of throwing a tantrum because your cable disconnected.
I mean, it’s even customizable, for goodness’ sake. The box shows you that you can take it apart if you absolutely insist on clickier buttons to really feel that Tyrant Rave hit your opponent. Even the unboxing experience feels good since there’s a plastic tab for lifting the Kitsune out of its cardboard prison.
My one complaint with the Razer Kitsune is the surface of the controller itself. Fighting games are an intense activity, and it’s easy to leave stains on the stick since it’s so reflective. Look, I already went 0-2 at a tournament, I don’t need to spend my sulking time also wiping down my stick.
There’s also the case to be made for the price- RM1479 is a very premium price, but in its defense the Razer Kitsune is a very premium controller. It’s absolutely worth it for the quality, but just know that it’s also not going to be in everyone’s price range.
Like I said earlier, leverless fight sticks can be incredibly hard to get outside of the US. Considering how many of your options require you to be deep in the scene, either building your own sticks or ordering ones from far overseas, the ability to just buy one and trust that it’s good because it comes from Razer cannot be understated.
That’s not to say it’s only good because it’s a leverless stick- as someone who’s dabbled with the controller type the Kitsune is definitely a worthwhile upgrade, giving you all the functionality of a good controller while also not breaking your arms to lug around. It’s also tournament legal, so if nothing else really consider being hassle-free one of its premium features.
Unit provided by Razer