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Rage Blog: Xbox 360 D-Pad

I won't profess to be a talented practitioner of button combos and timing frames because I'm not, but I do enjoy a select amount of fighting games. The thing about fighting games, and in turn button combos, is the precision required to pull off these combos with split-second timing and complete accuracy. If I need to string together a combo sequence and my controller fails to read the input I am giving it, the hardware has failed me and is in-turn making the gameplay worse where it wouldn't be normally. This has become more painfully obvious to me lately as I've been playing Mortal Kombat 9, especially on some of the more gimmicky fights. In this case Shao Kahn.

He's not altogether difficult as his moves are pretty easy to read and the characters I'm given I am able to counter his moves pretty well, but that hinges on whether or not my controller actually decides to read the input. Something as simple as the controller reading an up as a left or right, can very literally throw the fight in the favor of the cheap, asshole ruler of Outworld. 8 times I will execute Raiden's teleport to take advantage of Shao Kahn's long animations, and 10 times after that Raiden will just jump or backstep and turn into an easy target. Same input every time, with vastly different results. The fight itself is cheap, but it's also a boss in a fighting game; it's to be expected. The downfall comes from the terrible D-Pad Microsoft decided to produce in its controllers.

Overall, I really enjoy the Xbox controller for every game I play; the issue comes down only to fighting games but it's so glaring it all-together makes me want to smash it into the face of whoever thought it was a good design. Pressing up, and it registering right is not only not okay, it's crippling. It's less obvious on more "mash friendly" characters like Kitana where I can combo all day and not worry about what I'm pressing too much, but on a character like Raiden where precision is a little more necessary (especially in this fight) it's unacceptable.

I realize fight sticks among other things will alleviate the rage pains the controller causes, but honestly why can't Microsoft just put out a competent D-Pad? it honestly doesn't even need to be amazing, it just needs to be accurate. I've found videos online of people modding their controllers and improving the D-Pad with something as cheap as a Pringles lid. Some guy took 5-10 minutes taking his controller apart and putting a circular piece of cheap plastic on the D-Pad and instantly makes it much more accurate and playable. It makes me wonder how it ever got passed testing/QA if this simple fix makes the D-Pad way better.

So, Microsoft, I doubt you'll see this but I'm sure you've received plenty of feedback regarding the D-Pad on your controllers so can you please, for the love of my hairline and fractured knuckles, take this one to the drawing board and make a D-Pad that isn't a complete steaming pile of shit for the next Xbox? It's really the only thing wrong with an otherwise amazing controller.
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About Konneryone of us since 12:18 AM on 09.29.2010

I've played video games ever since I can remember. My fondest memories are playing Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time on the SNES with my brother, but that's all negligible stuff next to my love for music. If it's music, chances are I find some way to love it, and I take in anything I can. I play multiple instruments, and I guarantee you I have better music taste than anyone you know. Oh, and I'm also pretty opinionated.
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