When Microsoft initially introduced the original Xbox's controller, fans threw garbage at Seamus Blackley, the console's designer. They were wrong then and they're wrong now. Hyperkin knows what's up.
The reason why the design was so controversial is due to the sheer size of the unit. To be fair, even Microsoft didn't intend to make a controller this big — they were forced into the design after the controllers' circuit boards were produced much larger than anyone had anticipated. In Japan, Microsoft chickened out of even offering the accessory and instead marketed the Xbox with a smaller "Controller S" design packed in.
Named after Microsoft project manager Brett Schnepf’s son, who is called (you guessed it) “Duke,” the device was called “Blunder of the Year” by Game Informer in 2001 and christened the biggest first-party game controller ever by the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition in 2008. The smaller design would eventually become the company's default controller globally by 2003, but by then the Duke's iconic status had already been sealed.
What was fashionable to hate on in 2001 has become a powerful artifact of nostalgia for those of us who've secretly been fans of the controller all along. In an effort to monetize that nostalgia as effectively as possible, Microsoft partnered up with beloved accessory maker Hyperkin to create an all-new Duke for modern consoles and PCs in 2018.
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The new Duke is compatible with Xbox One, Series X, Series S, and PC, naturally. To stay true to its roots (and likely to cut costs) the new generation of Duke is also a strictly wired controller — but thankfully comes packaged with a nearly ten foot long USB cord, so don't fret too much about the logistics of wires in 2020.
Other adaptations include modernized Start and Select buttons, additional RB and LB bumpers (in case the OG black and white buttons aren't your jam), and some plastic where the old memory card units would have gone. The main event, however, takes center stage.
In the middle of the controller is a large menu button made to look like the oversize Xbox logo of old. But unlike the unit you may have owned in 2001, this device's logo is animated — thanks to a built-in LED screen which plays back the boot sequence for the OG Xbox. It's a delight each and every time you power it on.
For all these subtle differences though, it's still a Duke — which means it has all the heft and weight many gamers feel are missing in modern pads. As someone who frequently dances on the line between healthy hands and carpal tunnel, I appreciate the weight and volume. At no point in using the Duke do I ever feel cramped, like I need a break, or like gripping the device too enthusiastically could do it permanent damage. It is a controller made for rage quitting and I am no stranger to that activity.
You might look at the Duke and feel the instinct to body shame it, but I implore anyone with average or larger hands to give it a shot. Life is Short. You might just find you can Play More.