Every now and then, it is fun to take a look at the cutting edge of gaming peripherals. More fun, however, is that double take that occurs when some new piece of technology comes out that has three heads, is oozing some weird kind of fluid, and seems to be murmuring something that sounds an awful lot like begging for you to kill it to put it out of its misery. Hori’s most recent PS4 controller falls squarely in the second category. While there are a lot of things wrong with it, the most obvious becomes apparent the second you take a look at it.
It’s hideous. You know those knockoff controllers made by questionable companies you never heard of that look like a cube with buttons jutting out at odd angles and what just might be a piece of broken glass sticking out the back? The kind that, when you look at them, you can’t imagine it is actually going to work for your system, or really any system for that matter? The kind that you and your friends would call “the booty stick” and force the friend you secretly hated to use whenever you played multiplayer games? Even those controllers are better than this one. It looks like an Xbox 360 controller knocked up a Sega Genesis controller, and then the Sega Genesis controller started huffing spray paint and processed cheese in an effort to accumulate as many birth defects as possible. This thing is being advertised as “Xbox like”, and the only thing I can think of is this thing was manufactured specifically as an insult to Xbox controllers. The only theory that makes sense in my head is that Sony paid Hori to make this as ugly as possible so people that haven’t seen an Xbox controller before might be tricked into thinking they are impossible to hold with human hands.
The real problem, however, comes when you take a look at the features. Sure, they’ve changed some things people might like. The asymmetric analog stick setup does come in handy in some games, and perhaps some FPS buffs might get some use out of the other features. There are two more programmable bumper buttons, a dial to set the sensitivity of the analog sticks, and a “target” button that helps attenuate the sensitivity of the right stick for use in precision aiming. It also works for the PS3 so if you own both consoles you could have one versatile controller for both. All that sounds great, but then Hori decided to mess everything up by forgetting this was a PS4 controller and omitting some fairly important things.
The most egregious omission is the removal of the touch pad, or that thing that some PS4 games absolutely need in order to work. Hopefully, this is where the programmable bumper buttons come into play somehow, but that is not something Hori has made clear at this point. Instead, it just seems like this controller will be utterly useless for some games and it would be like if someone made a controller for the Wii without the motion controls or a SNES controller that had the A button replaced by a beehive. It’s like someone on staff confused what a PS4 controller needs with what a PS3 controller needs, and just didn’t feel like going back and fixing their mistakes.
The controller also lacks a light bar (hooray for that, I guess) and a headset connector. Oh, and it is a wired controller, just because they didn’t think there were already enough issues to dissuade you from buying it. These days, wired controller are something you’re more likely to find at an archeological dig than an electronics store, and whenever I see one at a friend’s house I feel an unexplainable urge to go through my pockets and give him all my loose change. So this controller is a special kind of ugly and useless that will be a perfect gift to let that special PS4 owner in your life know that you’ve always secretly hated them.
Currently, the controller is only available in Japan but retailers are already delivering this abomination worldwide. Or you can find it on eBay. I won’t link you to it though, because I don’t hate you.