Reader Review: Razer Onza Tournament Edition

Bizarrely enough, this isn't the first time we've had a reader review on a video game controller, but I think this is a useful one. The Razer Onza Tournament Edition is a fully customisable Xbox 360/PC controller designed for competitive play -but does it cut the muster? Benjamin Golightly, better known on Kotaku as 'The Cracks', investigates.

Thanks to Madman – the best written Reader Review receives a selection of the latest DVDs and Blu-rays from their selection.

Take it away Benjamin.

Razer Onza Tournament Edition (Xbox 360 / PC controller) Many of you will be familiar with Razer as the company that makes PC gaming peripherals (such as mice or meltable keyboards). Recently, Razer have taken a step into the console gaming market with the release of the Onza. The Onza is an Xbox 360 wired controller that doubles as a PC control pad out of the box (with the appropriate drivers). Billed as a tournament class controller, and boasting several improvements over the already exceptional Microsoft standard controller, does the Onza live up to Razer's marketing? (Note: This reader review will focus on the slightly more expensive Tournament Edition).

Loved Multifunction buttons (MFB): The Onza TE includes two 'MFBs' located just above the left and right shoulder buttons, and act as an extra set of shoulder buttons that can be mapped to any other 'button' on the controller (with the restriction that the left stick button can only map to left MFB etc). The positioning can be a little weird at first, and you might find yourself hitting the MFB rather than the shoulder button, but the actual shoulder buttons expand at the edge to provide an easy-to-find surface. The ability to map face buttons to the shoulders of the controller is an obvious benefit to many games, particularly FPS, as it allows you to perform common actions without removing the thumb from the thumbstick.

Hyperesponse buttons: The face buttons (ABXY) use Razer's hyperesponse technology (used in Razer mice) to detect activation. This makes the buttons feel very much like a mouse click, and is a definite improvement over the MS stock membrane switch. It takes less force, and requires less depression, to activate the buttons. Also, you get a nice clicky noise and backlighting.

Rubber coating: Like most Razer mice, the Onza TE comes with a rubberised surface. It feels far more comfortable than the typical plastic housing of most controllers, and it provides a (relatively) non-slip surface for people with sweaty hands. Plus, the matte look is sexy.

Thumbsticks: Firstly, the Onza has thumbsticks that are slightly longer than the MS standard, which theoretically allows for greater precision. From what I can tell during play, the deadzone (region in the centre of the sticks' range of motion that doesn't respond to input) is almost non-existant. I'd never particularly noticed the deadzone in the MS controllers, but the Onza TE instantly feels better. The main drawcard for the Tournament Edition is the inclusion of adjustable tension settings on the thumbsticks. A notched wheel on the stick allows you to increase or decrease the tension for each stick separately, which determines the relative ease or difficulty of moving the thumbstick. I found that increasing the tension on the right stick has made it far easier to make small aiming adjustments with precision on higher in-game sensitivity settings. This is probably only of particular use to FPS games, however.

Hated For the record, I don't really hate anything about the Onza TE, but I am disappointed by the following:

Cable: Microsoft don't licence the wireless technology used in their controllers, so all third party controllers are forced to use a cable. At 15ft long, the braided cable isn't too bad, but wireless is definitely preferable. The lack of a battery pack also significantly reduces the weight of the controller, which can be seen as a good thing, but I miss the heft of the MS wireless controllers.

Triggers: The left and right triggers on the Onza TE are similar in size to the standard MS triggers, yet they have an additional length of plastic jutting out from the finger rest. Placing your finger at the base of the trigger is comfortable and works fine, whilst using the extra length is awkward and uncomfortable and does not provide any immediately obvious benefits.

Relocation of the Start and Back buttons: The Start and Back buttons have been shifted from their traditional home flanking the Guide button to the bottom of the controller, just above the microphone jack. Not a big deal, but it can be awkward to press them.

Difficult to click thumbsticks: As you increase the tension on the thumbsticks, it becomes increasingly difficult to click the thumbstick button while the thumbstick is angled. Fortunately, the thumbstick buttons can be mapped to the MFBs if necessary.

Sharp edge: There is an edge on either side of the controller that is most prominant at the top of the controller and separates the shoulder buttons from the face of the controller. This edge is pointy. It hasn't ever been a problem for me whilst using the controller, and I doubt it ever will, but it would be nice to have this edge rounded.

I love the Onza TE, and cannot see myself willingly going back to the Microsoft controllers any time soon. The combination of minor improvements to a controller widely viewed as one of the best available results in something truly wonderful to hold and use. The ability to use the controller for PC gaming via USB is icing on the cake.

Disclaimer: Please note that this review is based upon my personal experience with the controller. Before I purchased the Onza TE, I saw several reports by users that had issues with their controllers, including malfunctioning buttons and the presence of 'slow turn'. I have had no issues with my controller, and the majority of user responses have been positive, but it is only fair to give warning of potential issues.


    The TE version would be wired regardless for a better response time. Either way, next pay I'm grabbing one of these bad boys. Looking forward to a having a proper D-Pad for Mortal Kombat.

      Damn it! Should have mentioned the D-Pad. It's good for menus and the like (as each primary direction is a separate button), but it'll be rubbish for most fighting games that require diagonal inputs. I've heard that MK doesn't require quite so many diagonals, so it might be good for that game.

        Can't you press both to get a diagonal direction? I was thinking of fighting games for this as well as I just tried Mortal Kombat on xbox and it is horrible. The D pad is terrible for it and the joystick can't differentiate between just back and doing back+up or back+down, same for forwards.

        I would have thought fighting games would be a primary consideration.

          You can press two at once to get a diagonal, but don't expect to be able to do it quickly or easily. Each of the four direction buttons have to be pushed in a fair ways (~ half a centimetre?), so it won't be good for quickly changing directions.
          I've heard that you can use the left stick rather well as a replacement for the d-pad in fighting games if you notch the tension up to near full.

    what is the difference between a TE and normal Onza?

      The regular one is $10 cheaper, has no rubber surface, no thumbstick tension change, and no backlighting on the buttons.

    I imagine this might be a little against the concept of the controller, being a 'tournament' edition but is there one that has programmable macros or the auto-fire feature?

    I don't want it for online gaming as I have heard it can give you an advantage but just to experiment with and see if it could help out in single player games.

      No macros or auto-fire from the Onza. They tried to keep it tournament legal to get it in MLG, I think.

        Yeah I just had a look into this, Hori has one for $200 but that's a bit steep. I like that this Razer one is roughly the same price as the xbox one, but hopefully a slightly higher quality.

        I would like to have one with macros just to see if I could find some interesting ways to use them but I don't think it's worth that much.

    I like the idea of a second set of shoulder buttons.

    Not that I have one, but does the usb wireless thingy mean it works on PS3's too?

      Dunno if it works on PS3 or not, but I doubt it, given that the Onza is Microsoft certified.

    I think you forgot that this controller is a tournament edition. Most tournaments ban wireless controllers because of the chaos of having to unsync controllers and potential for synced controllers interrupting matches.
    Plus wireless adds latency that no competitive player wants

      True, and this controller delivers that. For home and everyday use, however, wireless is just so much more convenient.

        It seems like if they had acces to the technology that Microsoft used to create the wireless controllers it wouldn't be that hard to make one that could do both. You could either have a usb cable that charged as well as sent data back and forth (I imagine this is possible due to external HDDs that do it) or 2 different ports, one for power, one for signal.

        That way you can play wireless at home, then disable it and plug it in if you're going competitive.

    And here I was about to write up a review for this as well.

    I agree on pretty much everything, so I'll just point out the D-Pad. It takes some getting used to as it's all individual buttons and they're a bit more raised than I would like, but after a few weeks of using it I absolutely love it now. A vast, vast improvement over the normal controller.

    Some info on the REGULAR ONZA CONTROLLER...

    I had two within two days. The first one I grabbed worked for an hour, then went dead (it would actually make my power supply red light if I plugged it in.) Assuming this was a technical fault, I returned the controller and exchanged it for another one with the retailer.

    The 2nd controller had a new problem. The left thumbstick wouldn't click in when I moved it forward (so I couldn't sprint in COD unless I mapped the thumbstick to one of the MFB's.) I returned the 2nd controller and got a full refund.

    Now these faults may have just been my bad luck (which I got a lot of!) or it may be a sign of weak craftsmanship by Razer. Only time will tell I think.

    Looking past the technical problems I had with the controller, my MAJOR GRIPE with the Onza regular version are the THUMBSTICKS. The tension on them is not strong enough. They are looser feeling than the Microsoft certified controller and there is no way to increase the tension, like on the TE controllers.

    If you are interested in getting one of these controllers, I would advise to find a TE one. The weaker tension on the regular made my occasional twitch reactions worse than they normally would be on a Microsoft controller.

    Hope that helped.

    the button remapping is welcome since almost no developers can be bothered to let you remap the buttons. annoying when you are left handed. moving with the right thumbstick restricts jumping ability etc.

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