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Get your tiny hands on The Duke’s reboot soon (corrected)

Xbox’s original controller, for the Xbox One

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Seamus Blackley
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

The Duke has a date. March.

The revival of the ridiculously oversized original Xbox controller — by the guy who designed the console — will be $70 when it launches in two months. Hyperkin is the maker. Cnet reported the news from CES yesterday.

That centerpiece — the “jewel” where the original Duke’s hu-jungus Xbox logo sat in order to collect cheeto dust and fingerprints — is now an OLED screen showing the original console’s first startup animation. Seamus Blackley, the Xbox designer who designed the Duke’s resurrection, showed that off in a tweet over the summer. Its coolness takes some of the edge off that chunky pricetag.

Look, I don’t begrudge anyone their nostalgia, but it still blows me out that people would want this. Not because of The Duke’s size; that’s just good campy fun and takes me back to the days of 1-800-Collect ads and the XFL. It’s the black and white buttons.

The black/white layout made drive-bys damn near impossible in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (white and black were the look left/look right commands when driving). I bought a third-party controller from GameStop, with crappy shoulder buttons, just so I could 100 percent that game. Running the option in NCAA Football 2004, only the best edition ever of that series, was similarly impossible. I just picked N.C. State and Philip Rivers and heaved the ball downfield.

I have no idea why anyone would prefer to play a game with shoulder button functionality on those two jokers way up at the top. The redesigned Xbox S controller put them in an even worse place, almost underneath the heel of the thumb. This is an unusual heritage for a controller family whose ergonomics are so desirable that Hori applied them to a PlayStation 4 gamepad.

But that center jewel, that’s some slick stuff. Cnet has an interesting tidbit about how that animation was rendered, something I didn’t know until today. So check that out.

Update: GameStop is now taking pre-orders for The Duke controller. It costs $69.99; the retailer suggests it will be available April 1, however, possibly missing the March window.

Correction: It now lists April 30 but that is a placeholder date; pre-orders are still being taken.

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