Larry Hryb, more popularly known as “Major Nelson” from Xbox Live, just unveiled Microsoft’s new and improved Xbox 360 wireless controller which will release this November 9th for $64.99. In case you’re wondering why it’s so expensive, it’s because of the new technology it offers and for the fact that it will only be available in the new Play and Charge Kit.


In addition to the controller being matte silver, including its buttons (no more Nintendo colors of Blue, Red, Yellow, and Green), the shoulder buttons and analog sticks have been slightly altered for greater comfort.

The new Xbox 360 controller

The biggest change and improvement, however, is the fact that Microsoft just revolutionized the D-Pad. For years, D-Pads owed a thanks to Nintendo with their original NES design. True, different companies had their own takes on it, such as Sony with their four-way split design and Microsoft with their disk technology, but now on Xbox 360, we’re getting a true advancement.

Xbox 360 controller with D-Pad in Plus form
Plus form

Xbox 360 controller D-Pad in Disk form
Disk form

This D-Pad has the ability to turn from the current depressed disk design, into the much more X and Y axis gameplay-friendly, plus design.

It seems that all you have to do is twist the D-Pad clockwise or counterclockwise to switch between these two play styles. Hopefully it will lock in place and not move out on you mid-gameplay, but I’m sure the engineers over at Microsoft know what they’re doing with this now patented tech.

Super Street Fighter IV
I can’t wait to go back and play Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter II Turbo: HD Remix, and Marvel vs. Capcom 2 with this new controller.

How will it affect you when you’re playing? For starters, any game on Xbox 360 that primarily emphasizes 2D gameplay which takes place on just an X and Y axis, will now be much more precise in the four primary directions of up, down, left, and right. The cause for error in pulling of certain moves with the existing D-Pad in say, Super Street Fighter IV, is that because of the disk design in place right now, you may be triggering, unwillingly, different sensors of direction beneath the pad. Go ahead and try to pull of a Hadouken on Street Fighter II for the two decade old Super NES controller and compare it to doing that same move on an Xbox 360 controller. Despite all of the bells and whistles in the Xbox 360’s modern controller, its D-Pad for this type of movement is not as precise as the SNES’.

Now having the option to switch on the fly is just wonderful for fighting game fans, and with big titles coming out that will no doubt require ultimate precision, including the new Mortal Kombat and Marvel vs. Capcom 3, this controller couldn’t have come at a better time.

Why leave the existing disk technology in the controller at all? Because in between analog controls for full, fluid, 3D movement and the necessity for ultra precise X/Y axis gameplay found in a plus D-Pad, you have the games that are usually 2D, but benefit from having a way in the D-Pad to “roll” which is present in Xbox 360’s current disk form.

Castlevania: Harmony of Despair
Now Xbox 360’s controller has the best of all worlds. I can play my Gears of War with the analog stick, Street Fighter with the plus d-pad, and sidescrolling adventure games with the disk d-pad…all on one controller.

A good example is Castlevania: Harmony of Despair for Xbox Live Arcade. It’s a 2D moving game, but with so much angled jumping, I personally believe that D-Pad works better than the analog stick. I applaud Microsoft with this move and think this controller is their very best effort to date. Here’s to November 9th.

4 thoughts on “What the new Xbox 360 controller means for 2D games”
    1. I think it’s great. I probably would honestly prefer some slight color in the buttons though. What about on screen button cues? I’m sure that they will still be colored, but it always helped that in a moment of panic, you could look down at your hands and see what color you need to press.

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