One of the oldest design oddities of the Xbox 360 controller--its concave disc D-pad that proved an ill fit for any game played in two dimensions--is finally getting addressed. Today, Xbox Live director of programming Major Nelson revealed that a new, redesigned wireless controller--bundled complete with Play-and-Charge kit--will arrive on stores shelves on November 9 in the US.
What makes this controller noteworthy, other than removing the various colors associated with the controller's face buttons (the rationale being that gray is "stylish"), is what Nelson refers to as the patented "transforming D-pad." By twisting the D-pad itself on the controller, you'll be able to shift that pad between two different design modes: the current, concave "disc" directional pad and a more traditional "plus" shaped pad, raised outside of the "well" on the controller.
And that new raised D-pad looks a little something like this!
Look at how much higher that D-pad! It barely touches the well at all! Finally, I'll be able to pull off Zangief's supers and ultras without have to rely on crazy felines.
If you're looking to get your hands on this new controller, however, you're won't be able to grab it on its ownsome; Microsoft is currently only selling the new controller in a bundle set that includes the 360 Play-and-Charge Kit. However, Microsoft isn't charging any premium for their redesigned controller; like other controller-plus-charging cable bundles, the redesigned 360 controller with Play-and-Charge Kit will retail for $64.99. And while the new controller design is set to come to the U.S. first, Nelson assures that the new pad will make its way to Europe sometime closer to February.
In fact, you can watch Nelson show off the new controller and its new D-pad in detail in video form.
I feel like it's not a huge leap to say that the environment in which this control pad will really be tested is in fast-paced Super Street Fighter IV play. So, I turn to you fighting game fans out there; you haven't had the chance to try it out yet, but, do you think that, given the the new design, this raised D-pad looks to be a more suitable way to play Street Fighter than the old "disc?"