Xbox 360 Controller Special Edition Review

Xbox 360 Controller Special EditionReleased in November of 2010, this updated version of the standard Xbox 360 Controller comes with a play and charge kit and nine foot charging cable. It features all new all gray and silver color scheme, new analog stick surfaces and a transforming d-pad aimed at correcting the biggest flaw of the original controller.  

The d-pad can be used as a disc that allows for easy sweeping motions or as a cross for more precise four point control.  I immediately noticed that the new d-pad feels much more responsive and clicky than the original one, regardless of whether being used as a disc or a cross. Read More…

The only a real downfall to the new d-pad is that the twisting mechanism used to transform it from a disc to a cross is somewhat awkward to operate because of its relatively small size. Regardless, whether you are playing a fighting game, a platformer, or a puzzle game, the new d-pad is a huge improvement over the old one, which tended to be mushy and imprecise.

Another noticeable change between the original Xbox 360 Controller and this new Special Edition one is the surface of the analog sticks. The four bumps found on the original sticks have been replaced by a singular, smooth recessed surface that my thumbs rest in quite comfortably. This change is subtle yet effective, especially during long play sessions.

The rest of the changes are superficial. The designers chose to replace the rather iconic, coloured face buttons with gray and silver ones to match the new aesthetic. The main surface of the controller is a nice matte metallic silver, with the bottom, bumper area and triggers in a glossy black.

D-Pad in Plus PositionThe Xbox 360 Controller Special Edition package includes a rechargeable battery pack, a housing for two AA  rechargeable batteries (not included) and a nine foot charging cable that should be adequate for most play situations.

Curiously, the cable has no breakaway mechanism as found on Xbox controllers for the past two generations; which could be an issue if you have active pets or children.

The packaging states that you can expect up to 35 hours of play time on a single full charge, which in my experience has taken about two hours. This, of course, can vary depending on your use of vibration functions for peripherals like the Chatpad or wired headset.

The overall package is of suspect value, because while it is technically a deal you are being forced to purchase a play and charge kit in addition to the controller itself. Offering a standard AA version would have been nice.

However, any concept of monetary value was thrown out the window the moment I was able to play some of my favourite games without frustration or breaking out my arcade stick. That’s something you just can’t put a price on.


+ New D-Pad is Responsive and Precise
+ Analog Sticks are More Comfortable


- Twisting D-Pad Mechanism can be Awkward
- No Breakaway Mechanism on Charging Cable

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Game Forward Score: 4/5

Brian J. Papineau > Game Forward


Xbox 360 Controller Special Edition Quick Facts:

Genre: Hardware / Peripheral
Developer: Microsoft
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: November 9, 2010
Price: $64.99 (US) $69.99 (CAN)
ESRB Rating: N/A