Rebirth of a monster: The original Xbox controller is back – CNET

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The reborn Xbox “Duke” controller.

Josh Miller/CNET

In 2001, the gigantic original Xbox gamepad, affectionately known as The Duke, went down in history as one of the worst game controllers ever made. 

Now, Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley and purveyor of retro game hardware Hyperkin have exhumed The Duke’s shallow grave. Somehow, they got the explicit permission and even support from Microsoft to do such a thing. I guess there’s no accounting for taste.

(I kid: I actually started missing The Duke after I eventually switched to the objectively way better, smaller Xbox Controller S around 2003, which you’re welcome to chalk up to Stockholm Syndrome if it helps you keep on reading.)

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Note that detachable cable, and the new (very shallow) shoulder buttons around back.

Josh Miller/CNET

Anyhow, we tracked down The Duke at the 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo here in Los Angeles, and came back with photographic evidence and answers to some of the questions that are no doubt racing through your mind:

  • Yes, it has a USB cable so it can plug into a modern Xbox One or Windows 10 PC. No, it’s not wireless.
  • No, the cable is no longer fixed in place and ridiculously hard to wrap without damaging — it’s a 9-foot-long detachable cable.
  • Yes, it has additional shoulder buttons so you can play Xbox One and Xbox 360 games. (The original only had triggers around back.)
  • No, the controls don’t technically map 1:1 with an original Xbox, so they won’t work perfectly with original Xbox games through Microsoft’s just-announced backwards compatibility program, says a Hyperkin rep. The timing was a coincidence. 
  • Yes, it’s based off the exact measurements of the original controller.
  • No, it doesn’t use old Xbox controller parts or manufacturing equipment. They had to build it from scratch.
  • Yes, that really is an OLED screen in the center of the controller.
  • No, the screen doesn’t do anything (yet, or possibly ever) except display an animated Xbox logo.

Hyperkin says The Duke will have a very limited production run; so limited that each controller will have its own unique serial number. It’s designed to be a collector’s item of sorts. 

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Josh Miller/CNET

They’re hoping to ship it with its own display case, too. Hyperkin won’t say yet how much it costs, but it could turn out to be a fair bit if production proves expensive — a rep couldn’t even say if it would cost less than a brand-new Xbox One Elite controller, the cream of the current console controller crop, which retails for $150 in the US.

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