Xbox 360 Wireless Controller w/Transforming D-Pad and Play and Charge Kit review: Xbox 360 Wireless Controller w/Transforming D-Pad and Play and Charge Kit

The Good Unique twisting directional-pad design; slick new color scheme; new concave analog sticks; convincingly outperforms existing Xbox 360 D-pad; works well with vintage XBLA games originally built for D-pad controllers; includes a black play-and-charge kit.

The Bad Expensive; forces consumer to pay for play-and-charge kit; new face-button colors may confuse novice users.

The Bottom Line The Xbox 360 Wireless Controller with Transforming D-pad is a must-have for 360 gamers who demand a precise D-pad response.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

Microsoft learned about controller design the hard way after the original Xbox's gargantuan controller was scrapped in favor of the much more practical Xbox Controller S.

When the Xbox 360 was released in 2005, gamers and critics alike greeted the console's controller positively. Aside from its wonky directional pad, it's widely regarded as one of the best input devices for a game console in quite some time.

The problem with the D-pad primarily comes into play when games take advantage of that section of the remote for weapon selection or other uses. It certainly was not an uncommon practice at the 360's launch, and by now it's a staple.

The rise in popularity of Xbox Live Arcade has also emphasized the D-pad issue by introducing classic video games that have been ported to play on the 360. Because these vintage titles were developed without analog sticks even being invented, most users prefer to play them using a D-pad. We were able to demonstrate this problem perfectly when playing Mega Man 10.

The problem with the current Xbox 360 controller's D-pad is that there is too much give in the plastic piece that sits on top. Also, the circular cutout is not always lined up perfectly to fit inside the controller's casing, so the edges can hit the controller, too. Long story short, the defects in design lead to accidental directional commands and ultimately frustrated gamers.

Shockingly enough, it took Microsoft five years to directly address the situation with the Xbox 360 Wireless Controller with Transforming D-pad. However, after a week of testing, we can confirm that for $65, Xbox 360 owners can officially have their D-pad fix; we just wish it came at a cheaper price.

The new controller is certainly sleek, opting for a silver matte-plastic encasing and shiny chrome D-pad. However, adding the D-pad isn't the only change Microsoft has made to the controller. Both analog sticks have had work done as well. Instead of a concave design marked by four embossed points, the new sticks have a small lip on the outer edge. Microsoft claims it's a more "comfortable" design, but we didn't detect any difference during testing. It does seem the lip is much more durable, and probably won't wear down like the four points do on current controllers.

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