Have you got thumbs the size of two large chorizos? Well good news, sausage hands, the original Xbox pad, aka The Duke, aka the only videogame controller that has ever fit snugly into your colossal claws, is seeing a re-release in March. It has seen a few small changes but the dimensions remain chunky and challenging. And like it’s modern counterparts, it’ll be usable on PC.
The differences seem minor. Two small shoulder buttons have been added and the clear plastic bauble in the middle of the pad is now an LED display that shows the old Xbox startup sequence (but nothing else). It’s a USB wired controller, not wireless, so no sitting over there. Only over here, yes, on the beanbag.
This is all thanks to the original Xbox designer Seamus Blackley. In 2016 Blackley tweeted a photo of the old controller on a whim and so many people responded with nostalgia that he decided to see if it was possible to re-release it, according to an interview with Cnet in which he talks about the controller and how its revival came about. He got the blessing of Xbox chief Phil Spencer to remake the pad, roped in peripheral manufacturer Hyperkin, and has been showing off prototypes at game shows since June last year.
The Cnet interview also goes into some fun hardware history, such as the reasons why the controller was so massive in the first place. This is a fun tidbit:
Blackley takes the blame for the original Duke being the size it was.
"I'd taken my eye off the ball when it came to the controller ... and the circuit board was given out to a vendor who was a friend of somebody or a brother of somebody. So the circuit board they came up with was the size of a dinner plate," he half-jokes.
"My good friend and industrial designer had to get a controller around this damn thing, so she did ... she was in tears and I was the person who had to deal with it.
"I had physical things thrown at me as a result of this controller," he says.
Previous showings of the revamped controller have confirmed it would be usable on Windows 10. Hopefully, there’s no reason it shouldn’t function on other versions of Windows, even if that means fiddling with the device manager and doing the usual sacrifices and incantations.
It’ll be out at the end of March this year, says Blackley, and will cost $69.99.