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.
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.