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A flawed beauty
NFG (Administrator) #1
Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: XBOX 360 Pad
The Xbox 360 pad is beautiful, with smooth curved lines and a gorgeous texture.  It feels awesome, it is instantly comfortable and does not promote any long term suffering: you're as happy four hours later as you were the instant you picked it up.  It's the most complicated, feature-packed and expandable controller ever bundled with a console.

What can't you do with this pad?  It has the world already, or you can add it later.  Fifteen buttons including the D-pad, six analogue axes, cordless RF as standard, battery operated with a plug-n-play corded option, a plug-in headset and even a tiny keyboard option.  It's got four lights, translucent buttons, knives, sharp sticks...  Sonic, electronic ball breakers!


But it's a flawed beauty.

It's like buying a car that's perfect in every way.  Reasonably priced, the perfect colour, fast, comfortable, but every time you turn left the steering wheel falls off.  That fatal flaw, the thing that will see you killed every damned time you use it, is the Xbox 360 D-pad.

That little circular thing, that four-button directional device that everyone else has been getting right for over fifteen years, that simple piece of plastic, is terrible. 


It's not as if Microsoft had to invent the damned thing on their own.  We've been using d-pads since Nintendo invented them for their Game & Watch portables in 1980.  No one misunderstands their use or their manufacture, and after 18 years of history, it's unforgivable that Microsoft got this one so wrong.  The failure is more egregious because the rest of the pad is so good.

The rest of the pad is a perfect culmination of some forty years of console gaming.  The d-pad is the worst pack-in controller since the 3DO, which was so bad people used to remove the screws halfway just to make it kind of playable.

The Xbox 360 d-pad is execrable.  It ruins everything.  It's not as if it's uncomfortable, it just plain doesn't work!  Try and play a game of PacMan CE with it, and you'll soon be re-plastering the Xbox 360 pad-shaped holes in your wall.

I've had four of these and they all sucked, it's just a shitty design: sloppy and inaccurate.  The first one I had, which I admit may have been defective (moreso, I mean), wouldn't go up if you pressed down first, or down if you pressed up first.  The rest of them have at least gotten this right, but you still can't accurately hit a compass point to save your life: There's no appreciable tactile difference between left, left and up, or left and down.  You're as likely to hit one as the other, and you can't tell the difference except that some smug-looking ghost has eaten your fucking Pac Man when you pressed ZIG and he fucking ZAGGED.

Fuck this thing, it's worthless for 2D gaming.  It's not even good for menus, and I can't imagine a less demanding thing in the world. If you try to move quickly through the Xbox 360 dash you never know where your cursor will go.

If you don't need the D-pad, the rest of the 360 pad is brilliant.  Fucking thumbs up.


-- Technical

There's a hidden screw under the barcode sticker.  The cordless unit uses a security-torx screw, but the corded unit has regular Philips screws. 

While hacking the pad to skip around the d-pad problem I found that the cordless pad has a very moddable d-pad, with a single common for the whole pad.  The corded pad does not have this luxury.

The corded pad is a regular USB pad, mostly.  It's not HID compliant so Windows will want a special driver, but these are freely available.  There's a dongle to use the RF pads on the PC.
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