A few weeks ago a representative from Evil Controllers, a small 3rd party gaming controller manufacturer/designer, approached me asking if Gamer Limit would be interested in reviewing some of their products. Always being down for a hardware review, I jumped on the chance. To my surprise, the gaming controller they wanted me to review was their new “Evil D-Pad” for the Xbox 360.
As you can see in the image above, the only real difference between the Evil D-Pad controller and the standard Xbox 360 controller is that the Evil D-Pad has replaced the oh so problematic Xbox 360 d-pad with four individual buttons. At first, I though, “Who would want this? It’s just a PlayStation D-Pad on an Xbox 360 controller; especially considering it’s priced at $54.99 for the wired version ($74.99 for the wireless).” I couldn’t imagine dropping this kind of money on a new d-pad for a controller. Then I actually sat down and played a few games with it.
You wouldn’t believe it, but the Evil D-Pad controller actually makes gaming more enjoyable, albeit only slightly. My first observation was that this controller made navigating the Xbox Dashboard much easier. As someone who is primarily a PC gamer, I’ve always found flipping through the various Xbox menus a pain in the ass, especially in the Netflix application.
If you guys are anything like me, nothing makes you rage harder than digging through the hundred plus movies in your instant queue only to inadvertently hit down or up (or at least when the crappy stock Xbox 360 controller D-Pad interprets as down or up) taking you to a new category and ultimately losing your place: with the Evil D-Pad, I had no problems.
In terms of actual gaming, how useful the Evil D-Pad is to you will depend on the game. Personally I don’t really use the d-pad in most of my games. The rare case would be switching up plays in NHL 11 or checking up on quests in Dead Rising 2. In order to give the Evil D-Pad a real test I busted out some of my old XBLA games that were d-pad dependent. Games like Streets of Rage 2, Golden Axe, Street Fighter HD Remix, etc.
When playing beat ‘em ups, like Streets of Rage, the Evil D-Pad preformed pretty well. The buttons offer the right amount of resistance ensuring that there aren’t any accidental miss-presses. I also found that my thumbs were hold up a lot longer than they used compared to when using the stock Xbox 360 d-pad.
When playing Street Fighter, I found myself having a little trouble when my primary character Zangief (due to the fact almost all his moves involve rotating the d-pad 360 degrees.) On the other hand, I was noticing a huge improvement with my charged based characters (Guile, Blanka, etc.)
All in all the Evil D-Pad controller from Evil Controllers really surprised me. At first I wrote it off as just another gimmicky third-party controller, but after spending a few weeks with it, I have to say, it’s pretty nice. I stopped suffering from sore thumbs on my d-pad intensive marathon gaming sessions and I was no longer tearing my hair out when navigating the Netflix queues. I can safely say that the Evil D-Pad is a solid controller.
My only concern about it is the price. $75 is a lot to ask for a new d-pad, especially considering Microsoft has just come out with a new controller that features an adjustable d-pad that retails for $10 less. If money isn’t a problem for you, then I recommend the Evil D-Pad controller from Evil Controllers whole heartedly. I just have a hard time recommending it to your average broke college gamer.