While Microsoft's default Xbox 360 controllers--available in wired and wireless configurations--have been hailed as some of the best ever, they come at a price. At $40 and $50, respectively, they're among the more expensive you can buy. For those looking for an extra controller on the cheap, Pelican has released a $30 alternative. The Pelican Xbox 360 TSZ Wired Controller is available in white, silver, and camouflage colors. Unlike the Microsoft offering, the Pelican won't work with Windows PCs. There's also no wireless version; Microsoft is maintaining a monopoly on that market for the foreseeable future.
The Pelican TSZ controller--the TSZ is short for Three Six Zero--is a near-doppelgänger of the 360's official Microsoft gamepads. The layout is the same except for the Start and Back buttons, which are slightly above the Guide button instead of parallel to it. The cord is the same 10-foot length and the controller is slightly smaller, but not enough to substantially change the ergonomics. The most noticeable difference between the Pelican and Microsoft controllers is the springier shoulder/bumper buttons of the former, giving them more of a triggerlike feel. They don't feel as sturdy, but they are a bit more tactile; whether the trade-off is worth it is your call.
We tested the Pelican Xbox 360 Wired Controller with a few games and found that performance was near the precedent set by Microsoft's pads. The combat in Kameo: Elements of Power was still second nature, and the controller handled the cars in Need for Speed Most Wanted with precision. We were able to weave our way through crowds of zombies in Dead Rising with ease, though we were a little dismayed by the louder and weaker rumble effect in Pelican's controller.
At $30--even less at some retailers--the Pelican Xbox 360 TSZ Wired Controller is a great value as a second controller, as long as you don't mind the slightly weaker rumble effect and the lack of PC support.