Count me as one of the weirdos who liked the first iteration of the Xbox controller. Yes, I’m talking about this behemoth.
Ok, so it probably had more to do with how incredible Halo: Combat Evolved was. Still, the ‘Duke’ didn’t bother me. But Microsoft was quick to abandon the bulky design for the more streamlined Xbox S controller.
And besides a few refinements and button change placements, the design has stayed pretty much the same. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right?
Those feeling nostalgic for the good ol’ Xbox days can play all the newest games using the beefy ‘Duke’ controller. All thanks to the original Xbox designer Seamus Blackley and peripheral manufacturer Hyperkin. Nostalgia is a hell of a drug, and there was enough interest in the oversized controller to bring it back.
Blackley got the go-ahead from Xbox Head Phil Spencer to bring back a piece of Xbox’s past.
Here’s Blackley talking to CNET about getting the approval. “I contacted Phil [Spencer, head of Xbox], who was a buddy of mine, and asked, ‘Phil, is this crazy enough to do?’ and some of the hardware guys who were there when the Xbox was on the drawing board said we should absolutely do it.”
Blackley also tells the story of how the ‘Duke’ even got made. Even I’ll admit that is one ugly ass controller.
“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,” says Blackley.
“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 can just imagine Bill Gates looking at that thing and shaking his head. Nothing about the original Xbox screamed beautiful aesthetics, but damn did it deliver some classic games. Halo, KOTOR, Morrowind, Crimson Skies, Mech Assault, and the list goes on. It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t have to be with the games it had.
A pair of bumpers are being added to the sides to make sure the ‘Duke’ can handle the newest games. And the huge Xbox logo in the middle now plays the OG Xbox starting animation.
This piece of Xbox’s past won’t be cheap though. The hefty ‘Duke’ brings a hefty price tag at $70. And is expected to be in diehard Xbox fans hands in March. I loved the ‘Duke,’ but at $70 you’re already halfway to the Elite Controller. May as well toss another $80 and get that.
Still, I think it’s awesome the folks at Xbox gave Blackley the go-ahead to resurrect the ‘Duke.’
Were you a ‘Duke’ fan, or is this a piece of Xbox history best left there?