Sometimes, less really is more - at least, according to game-peripheral manufacturer Performance Designed Products. While the company is traditionally known for its "Afterglow" line (standard game controllers augmented with a clear plastic shell and multi-colored lights), PDP has recently started producing franchise-focused gamepads as well. PDP's special Battlefield 4 controllers, for example, sport the game's iconic logo and a black matte finish, while a series of Super Smash Bros. fight pads recreate the Gamecube controller with character-specific color schemes.
With its upcoming line of Mortal Kombat X controllers, PDP is going even further. As revealed by CNET editor Brian Tong during a visit to the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, PDP's Mortal Kombat gamepad strips the Xbox One and PS4 controllers of all but their most crucial elements, creating a lean, focused device that's designed specifically for Mortal Kombat - and, seemingly, not much else.
This isn't the first time gamers have seen the controller - images of a prototype leaked a few months back - but PDP has made some major changes to the hardware since then. Most importantly, the new version of PDP's Mortal Kombat controller doesn't have an analog stick; the movement controls are D-Pad only. That's a complete reversal from the prototype, which had an analog stick but no D-Pad, and is likely a response to concerns that analog controls simply aren't precise enough for 2D fighting games.
The pad's button configuration is also fairly unusual. The left and right shoulder buttons have been moved to the face of the controller, and the button layout has been adjusted accordingly. Now, the face buttons are arranged in two rows of three, as opposed to most controllers' diamond-shaped design. Buttons also let loose a satisfying click when pressed.
Other changes are subtle, but still important. It looks like the left and right triggers are still there, but the right-side analog stick is also missing. The controller's left-side grip is significantly longer than its right-side equivalent, supposedly allowing players to tap buttons with their fingers, similar to an arcade stick. The video only shows the Xbox version of the controller (which can be used on both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One), but it's doubtful that the PS4 touch pad made the transition to the new gamepad.
As noted before, the final product strongly resembles the classic Sega Genesis controller, and a number of gamers will likely pick up PDP's Mortal Kombat pad for nostalgia alone. It's hard to imagine PDP's controller attracting much of an audience otherwise; most fighting game fans prefer to use arcade-style joysticks, and the missing features limit the controller's use outside of 2D brawlers. Still, PDP's known for offering solid products at a decent cost, and dedicated gamers who can't afford a full-fledged arcade stick might find PDP's Mortal Kombat controller a reasonably priced alternative. Time will tell.
Mortal Kombat X releases April 14, 2015 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows PC.
Source: Brian Tong