Buying controllers for the original Xbox

When I bought my Xbox back in January it came with the original chunky controller. It’s a beast, and stories of hand cramp after prolonged sessions are no exaggeration. To make matters worse, the four main buttons are in an unusual distorted diamond layout which can be tricky especially if you use a 360 regularly. It was time to find an alternative…

I found the Microsoft “Xbox Controller S” and it looked spot on (picture above) – very similar to the superb 360 pad and roughly the same size. It was only available second hand and when I checked prices they seemed overly expensive. eBay has lots of clones for sale so I decided to try one of those. When it arrived I was very pleased with it. Apart from a plain circle where the xbox logo should be, it looked like a quality piece of kit. Occasionally the triggers nipped my fingers but apart from that performance was good. Eventually though, I did notice that the analog sticks are a bit erratic in operation whenever very accurate control is needed – such as using sniper weapons in Halo. Being quite new to the original Xbox, I thought this was normal for the console and battled against it.

After only four months the controller broke. It happened as I was fighting for my life in Halo 2 battling a bunch of Brutes with only an Energy Sword to defend myself. The left thumbstick jammed solid. After moving it around a few times it freed up but the centering had failed, making it unusable. Curious to see what had gone wrong, I took the controller apart and discovered the analog sticks are sealed units so are either impossible or very difficult to repair.

The original chunky controller

Reluctantly I dug out my original oversized controller and straight away something was obvious – the analog sticks are actually perfectly accurate on the original Xbox. The problem was with the non-genuine pad I’d been using. When looking around using the right-hand stick in Halo, screen movement is much smoother and more controllable. Apart from the size of the controller, returning to a genuine Microsoft controller proved to be a welcome move. Gaming is more enjoyable and does justice to what is still a decent console.

I’ve ordered another small-style controller off eBay and this time it’s a genuine Microsoft one that has been refurbished by a seller called¬†gktoysandgames (no longer on eBay). The cost of ¬£8.49 + sensible P&P seems very decent and there’s even a 60 day warranty for peace of mind.

My recommendation is to avoid the cheap copies of the Controller S because mine only lasted four months and the accuracy of the analog sticks is pretty crappy. Even though they can’t be bought new any more, the best option is to buy the real thing on the second-hand market. I’m sure the Microsoft pad will be much more durable too – just what I need to finish off the rest of the Covenent army.

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2 comments

  1. Blake says:

    I bought an Xbox back in 2002 and played with the Duke controller for a while before getting an S controller. The S is such an improvement. Anyways, I have a pretty good retro game console collection and recently hooked up my old Xbox (not quite retro). Problem is I don’t have any controllers. I am a bit shocked to see how expensive these controllers are now online. I expected maybe $5 and a few bucks shipping but most are well above that. I am surprised a controller to a console that no one wants anymore and isn’t old enough to be retro is able to go for such high prices! It may be the one thing that is cheaper to buy locally at a second hand game store!

  2. Dorian Farrimond says:

    Hi, yes they have got expensive haven’t they! Like you say the Xbox isn’t a classic yet. My local Gamestation has almost completely got rid of xbox1 games now so stuff is probably going to get even harder to find.

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