- Xbox Game Reviews Previews Mod-Chips Accessories

Buy XBOX Mod-Chips and Accessories at:
Xbox360, XBox, Wii Chips
NDS, X-Box Accessories



To be accepted as an affiliate you have to place a link to us on your website and e-mail us your URL - ModChips - Mods
Xbox HDD mods
  XboxWeb >> Xbox Game Reviews


Controller S

Controller S




No doubt about it. Smaller equals better.

Us silly Americans and our need to have everything big - big cars, big houses, big… well, Sir Mix-A-Lot not withstanding, this need for bigness came through with the first American console in a long while - the Xbox. The system itself is quite massive due to the sheer amount of things that have to go into it (DVD drive, hard drive, etc…), but why? Why such a huge controller? The big, beefy controller has been the focal point of a lot of Xbox naysayers out there (you know who you are). In truth, with the quality games that the Xbox has seen so far, it's about the only thing the anti-Xboxers can make fun of. However, with this combination of negative feedback and the simple reason that the controller is in fact too big for people with tiny hands (i.e.- women, kids, and other small people in general) to use efficiently, Microsoft wisely choose to release a modified version of the Japanese Xbox controller here in the states. So, how does this smaller controller stack up to the original?

In essence, the Xbox Controller S, or Controller Small, is just a regular old Xbox controller, minus a huge chunk of plastic and a few changes to the button placement. I was actually very surprised about just how small this puppy is. It's very reminiscent of holding a GameCube controller, which should give you a good idea of its size. Although, you'll be happy to know that with this size decrease came no loss of quality or comfort. Just like it's older, bigger brother, the Controller S is one of the most solidly built, durable controllers in the gaming world today. Which is very important cause you don't want your 40 bucks going to waste just because you're clumsy (or intoxicated). The comfort part is always a key factor in game controller design. You're going to be using this thing for hours upon hours and having sore fingers or wrists afterwards just doesn't cut it. Thankfully, with the Controller S' sleeker design this isn't a dilemma. It contours your hand perfectly, placing your index fingers right on the triggers, your middle three fingers firmly around the grips, and your thumbs in the perfect position to be primed for action.

First, let's take a look at the totally revamped placement of the six analog buttons. One of the main complaints of the standard Xbox controller is that the face buttons are too close to one another and that they have an odd slant to them. I too found this to be an issue, as hitting the wrong button became problemsome on more than one occasion. With the controller S, though, this is a problem no more. The controller features a classic diamond shape for the four main face buttons, much like the Dreamcast, and they are spread apart quite liberally. In fact, if you're use to using the original pad, it will take a little time to get used to this layout. But then again, the same applies to the entire controller due to its decreased size. With this new button layout you can't really keep the white and black buttons where they originally were, so they have been moved below the four main buttons, which works well as it makes them much, much easier to reach.

Due to the limited space that is now available between the right analog stick and the directional pad, the start and back buttons also had to be moved, and have been relocated right below the left analog stick. This really isn't very bothersome since these buttons are rarely used, although; for a while you're going to be looking down at the controller in order to distinguish between the two when it becomes necessary.

The two analog trigger buttons, L and R, have gone through some minor modifications as well. They now cover less area, meaning there a little skinnier (not to the point where it cuts into your fingers, ala Dreamcast), and they are a little looser. The looseness was something many complained about with the Japanese version of the controller and it was supposed to be alleviated in the U.S. release. Having never used to Japanese controller I can't necessarily describe the extent that this has been fixed, but I really can't imagine them being any looser. To be honest though, it's not that big a deal. I found them to be just as responsive and it didn't quite hurt my fingers as much in games where you must hold them down for long intervals (i.e.- racing games).

Naturally, with the smaller size the two analog sticks are going to be a little closer to one another, and they are. However, it's still quite comfortable and it's more than made up for by the fact that the analog sticks actually seem to be more precise, giving you an unprecedented level of control. This is something that really caught my attention as I was hanging curves in Rallisport Challenge. Seriously, the analog sticks can actually improve gameplay, especially in games where precision accuracy is needed. The tips of sticks even have a larger concaved circumference and feature four little well placed grips, both things help immensely in preventing your thumbs from accidentally flying off the sticks in the middle of gameplay.

Another huge improvement comes in the D-pad, which now features a full-fledged 8-way design with a cross shape in the middle that maps out each individual direction perfectly. It might feel a bit constricted, but it's far better than the unmarked, circular D-pad that came with the original, and it's easily one of the biggest improvements to the Xbox controller.

Then of course we have all the standard bells and whistles that really can't be improved too much. The two expansion slots, the built in vibration motors, and the long 9.8 foot (.3 feet longer than the original) cord with that nifty inline release. While this is all some standard stuff, just like the bigger controller, it's all pulled off flawlessly.

Once you overcome the smaller size, the Controller S is a real joy to play with. I tried it out on a variety of games - Rallisport Challenge, Dead or Alive 3, Halo, Jet Set Radio Future, and a few more, and it worked quite well in them all, regardless of genre. As I said before, the increased accuracy of the analog sticks really made Rallisport a whole new experience, and the newly designed D-pad is an absolute must in games like Dead or Alive 3. The Controller S has accomplished quite a feat in actually enhancing the gameplay experience in many games.

Simply put, the Xbox Controller S is one of the best-designed controllers in the history of mankind (yes, that's a long time) and every Xbox owner should at least try it out to see what they think. People with above average hands should be warned though; the controller might in fact be a too small. I have what I'd call average sized hands, and the controller is just about perfect, if a smidgen too small. I think it's goes without saying, but anyone who finds the original controller to be too big and uncomfortable needs to go pick up this controller as soon as possible. An added bonus come in the fact that the new button placement works really well, the directional pad is much more efficient, and the analog sticks are as accurate as you're going to find. I applaud Microsoft in their decision to release the smaller controller here in the states. Now you have a choice between two fine 1st party controllers depending on your preferences, something you don't get from either Sony or Nintendo's systems.

Ryan Smotherman

Related Links

  • Xbox Features

  • Backtrack

  • Back to Main

  • Back to Reviews

  • Back to Top

  • - Buy Video Games for Consoles and PC - From Japan, Korea and other Regions!