Release Date: 10/22/2018
Colors: Black, Green, Red
I’m a sucker for awesome game controllers and when I saw the Duke being announced by Hyperkin I was both excited and puzzled. Why bring back such a loathed controller which is considered one of the worst ever made? Who does this appeal to? The few who did like the Duke or people who like collecting weird controllers? The question is that it was neither as the controller didn’t sell very well and received very little attention. I picked it up only for the retro awesomeness factor and because I have never owned a Duke controller.
In the box, you get a very long USB cable and the controller itself. Sadly, this is not wireless and part of this is due to the fact that Microsoft will not release the codes to third-party developers so Microsoft is the only company with wireless controllers. It’s been this way since the Xbox 360 sadly. Once you do open the box and pick up the controller you realize just how gaudy this thing was. I have large hands and it’s almost too big for me. It feels ergonomic but so bulky and heavy it’s both satisfying and weird. The face buttons are slanted and at least the bumpers were retained as small buttons on top but the black and white buttons also function as bumpers (I mean…the black and white buttons were converted to bumpers on the Xbox 360). The coolest feature is the LCD at the center that plays the original Xbox startup animation and displays the Xbox logo with a crisp clear LCD. I would have liked the startup sound as well, but I’ll take what I can get. There is no other controller on the market with a built-in LCD like this and it’s great.
Once you start playing games I can see the issue of bulkiness making your hands tired and the controller build is a tad iffy. The controller creaks and the buttons feel hollow and clack loudly while vibrations rattle the entire controller. It’s both awesome as it makes the controller seem that much more ridiculous and adds to that factor, as well as questioning the build quality. It sure feels solid like you can knock someone out with it and the analog sticks and D-Pad are fantastic and feel just like the originals. The back and menu buttons are where they start and select normally would be and they feel fine.
Overall, the Duke controller is a strange device as retro collectors will get a kick out of it, and it has some enjoyability, but new players will balk at the bulkiness, build quality, and overall weird factor this controller brings.