Xbox 360 Transforming Controller Review: I've Got Blisters on Me Fingers

Illustration for article titled Xbox 360 Transforming Controller Review: Ive Got Blisters on Me Fingers

The Xbox 360 controller's biggest flaw is the craptastic directional pad plunked in the middle of it. Five years later, Microsoft's come up with a better way: a transforming controller.

Illustration for article titled Xbox 360 Transforming Controller Review: Ive Got Blisters on Me Fingers
Advertisement

Specs
Xbox 360 Controller
Price: $65
When: Nov. 9
In the box: Controller, play-and-charge cable, rechargeable batteries

The Xbox 360 controller might be the best button-and-stick-filled manipulator of this generation. It's telling that Microsoft has deigned to fix its controller's most dinged feature—the d-pad—at the same time it's launching Kinect, which does away with controllers entirely. Personal movement trackers may be the future of gaming, but it's clear that that future is a little ways off. And in the present, we need a better controller.

Illustration for article titled Xbox 360 Transforming Controller Review: Ive Got Blisters on Me Fingers
Illustration for article titled Xbox 360 Transforming Controller Review: Ive Got Blisters on Me Fingers
Advertisement

The new controller is almost exactly like the old controller, except for the mighty morphing d-pad. Push down, twist the thing counter-clockwise, and a traditional four-way d-pad emerges, like a marginally hot and shiny stripper from a cake. Spinning clockwise recombobulates it back into the puck that gamers love to hate.

The four-way d-pad is markedly better for fighting games, like adding a pair of brass knuckles to your dragon punch—every move is easier to pull off more consistently, from Fei Long's flaming kick to Zangief's piledrivers in Street Fighter IV. Old school-style sidescrollers feel more like they should as well. But there is a price for this power: After about 30 minutes of ass-kickery: The d-pad is countersunk into a pit, and, after two-hundred frantic fireballs, the edges of that pit will tear up your thumb. But old school gamers like that kind of pain.

Illustration for article titled Xbox 360 Transforming Controller Review: Ive Got Blisters on Me Fingers
Advertisement

Four-way directional pad is awesome for fighting and old-school games. Even in puck mode, it seems to work a little better. Morphing mechanism feels solid. The four "home" dots have been sanded off of the analog stick, leaving a totally smooth surface for your thumbs to rest on. I missed them at first, but after a couple hours of using the d-pad I appreciated the satin-y analog stick. Left and right triggers are slightly longer than the stock model as well.

Illustration for article titled Xbox 360 Transforming Controller Review: Ive Got Blisters on Me Fingers
Advertisement

The fact that you can only get this controller as a $65 play-and-charge bundle feels like extortion. Most Xbox 360 gamers—particularly the fanatics that would be psyched about this controller—probably already have a play-and-change kit or four. Why isn't this available standalone, or better still, bundled with new consoles? Thumb callouses required to protect you from d-pad drubbing.

Illustration for article titled Xbox 360 Transforming Controller Review: Ive Got Blisters on Me Fingers
Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Xbox 360 Transforming Controller Review: Ive Got Blisters on Me Fingers

If you play a ton of fighting games or just loathe the Xbox 360 d-pad, you will dig this controller. I just hope you don't already have a bunch of them.

Advertisement

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

bigpixel
NovemberAjax

"The Xbox 360 controller might be the best button-and-stick-filled manipulator of this generation."

I'm not sure I get this assertion. The controller is the reason I barely use my Xbox any more. It's asymmetrical - craning my left hand around the controller to properly use the left analog stick just made my thumbs ache and cramp. My PS3 gets way more play time purely because of the issues with the XB360 controller. Human hands are symmetrical - why isn't their controller?