Review – Hyperkin Duke Xbox/PC Controller

For my most recent impulse buy, I purchased one of the Hyperkin “Duke” Xbox controllers on Amazon. I had been looking for another controller that I could use for a few games here and there on pc that I’d prefer to use a controller over mouse and keyboard, as well as a backup for when the AA batteries are drained from the few hours of use in my Xbox One X controllers. It’s all too perfect of a coincidence that I should decide to write up a few of my thoughts about it. For those unfamiliar, the first iterations of the Xbox controllers were gargantuan beasts, typically mocked for their sheer size and lack of ergonomic design in comparison to the Playstation 2’s Dualshock and Nintendo Gamecube controllers. The “Duke” as it was nicknamed, was discontinued and replaced with the more reasonably-sized Xbox Controller S, which led to the evolution of the Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers. I remember renting an Xbox and a few games, including Halo, shortly after its November 2001 release and being both amused and confused about what to make of such a cumbersome controller. I did, however, come to quite enjoy the feeling of the hefty gamepad for a number of games, primarily shooters like Halo which lent themselves well to the twin triggers underneath. A few years ago that Hyperkin was going to be releasing an official reproduction of the Duke, I absolutely wanted to get a chance to check one of these out for myself. I spent about seven or so hours over the weekend using the controller to play some Halo on my Xbox One as well as playing a few other games on pc. Here’s what I thought thus far…


  • A very nice repro of the original Xbox controller, it feels near identical to the original. The button placement is the same as the original, with just a few minor adjustments. First, a left and right shoulder button have been added to the controller. This is a definite improvement over the original version which utilized both a Black and White button along with the A, B, X, and Y face buttons; the Hyperkin version still has the Black/White buttons, giving you the option to use them or the shoulder buttons. The shoulder buttons are a little on the small-ish side, but still function perfectly fine as I was using the right shoulder button to dash while streaming Gato Roboto over the weekend. The buttons and dual underside triggers feel nice and responsive with a little bit of a “click-y” feel similar to arcade fight pads. A 35mm headphone jack is one of my most appreciated details in a controller; I was very pleased the Hyperkin Duke has a built-in headphone jack as I likely spend the majority of my time playing with a headset on.
  • One of my favorite details of the Hyperkin Duke is when plugged in, the plastic button in the center of the controller will light up with the startup logo one would see on the original Xbox. This isn’t a make-or-break feature for the controller but…it’s still a pretty cool reminder of all the good times playing games like Halo, Fable, and Knights of the Old Republic.


  • Horses for courses. The shoulder buttons I mentioned work well, but I will admit they are a little on the small side due to the shape of the control and may not be the easiest to reach. Games that require a good deal of button dexterity, such as Jedi: Fallen Order or any Dark Souls game that has your primary attack/block buttons defaulted to shoulder buttons and not triggers, this may not be the ideal controller to wield. Also, in sticking to the original Duke controller as closely as possible, the Hyperkin version features the same d-pad, which I have never been the biggest fan of. It doesn’t feel quite as “mushy” as the d-pad on the Switch Pro Controller, but still not quite as precise as its later evolutions in Xbox controllers.
  • Not a con for myself, per se, but the Hyperkin Duke is not likely the ideal controller for anyone with small-to-medium sized hands. I have large hands and don’t have any issues with things like cramping or strain after prolonged use, but there is a reason the humongous design was replaced with something a little more ergonomic. I do also remember the original Duke being just a little bit heavier, so you really felt the power of this behemoth in your hands.
Xbox One X controller(left) to show size difference.

Do I recommend this controller to everyone? No. The Hyperkin Duke is an excellent repro of the infamous controller design, but it’s hard to fully recommend it to anyone who never used one on the original Xbox, especially when it costs the same as a brand new Xbox One X wireless controller. If you’re looking for a cool piece of gaming nostalgia that’s perfectly functional for modern games, I can vouch for its quality and feel. I remember the days of 3rd-party controllers being a bit of a gamble, the true litmus test of one’s friendship as a kid was whether or not you were handed a Mad Katz N64 controller when playing. Gaming magazines jokingly referred to the original controller feeling as though you were “holding a canned ham”, but the Hyperkin Duke is exactly what I was expecting and delivers the feel of the original – a baseball bat with a joystick and trigger for each hand and I am completely on board with that.

First Impressions – Ori and the Will of the Wisps

A couple months ago while browsing the Switch eShop, I decided to finally download Ori and the Blind Forest and try it out after hearing others say how much they love the game. I knew of the game, but not so much what type of game it was – a metroidvania-type adventure game with some of the most beautiful visuals and soundtrack I’ve experienced in a game. I recently mentioned the game in a post listing some of my favorite metroidvania titles, the game featured some well designed levels, along with wonderful visuals, celestial score, and prologue that packs an emotional punch rivaling that of a Pixar movie. For everything that was great about the game, I wasn’t crazy about the attacks that felt woefully underpowered and the feather-light movements in the game made jumping with any kind of precision greatly difficult(*this may have been a combination of a personal preference of a little more hefty jump weight and the fact I was playing primarily in handheld mode on my Switch…those short little joysticks!). The issues I faced with the original game made the impending release of Moon Studio’s sequel – Ori and the Will of the Wisps even more intriguing; many brand new IPs will get even better with the next game in the series as developers have had a longer time to evaluate and adjust game mechanics. Ori and the Will of the Wisps was released this past Wednesday as was available immediately for Xbox Game Pass users, having recently begun using Game Pass Ulitmate on my Xbox One X, I was pretty excited to give the game a try. Here are some of my initial impressions of Ori and the Will of the Wisps…

The second time around…

The team at Moon Studios has done a great job in fine tuning and adjusting gameplay mechanics and controls in Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Gone are the soul links that you have have to remember and place every couple minutes out of fear of having to re-do significant chunks of gameplay due to the games moderately steep gameplay difficulty. Will of the Wisps has simplified this element by simply using an autosave feature, meaning when you aren’t punished quite as severely when you don’t time a jump perfectly and land on a thicket of thorn bushes, resulting in a instant death. The game controls feel just as you remember them, but I felt the jump weight had been improved a little bit. There’s still the light, floaty feeling while traversing through platforming sections located in the woods of Niwen, but it feels as if it’s been improved just enough to not be constantly over-shooting your landing. You’re also able to cling to glowing blue forest moss as you hand-over-hand climb over gaps and other obstacles á la Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

The main combat in the first Ori game I personally felt was good, but could have been a little better. In Will of the Wisps, you now have a plethora of weapons and attacks you can acquire, such as a light sword or a bow and light arrows(the most recent addition to my repetoire). This gives the combat a similar feeling to rogue-lite games like Dead Cells which I quite enjoy. You can also collect a number of different perks, allowing you to interchange different abilities similar to Hollow Knight.

Same feels…

Ori and the Will of the Wisps begins shortly after the conclusion of the first game with the birth of Ku, who hatches from the last egg of Kuro’s nest(the scary owl villain in the game). The opening sequence shows Ori, Naru, and Gumo taking in the baby owl to live with them in the forest of Nibel. Ku has been born with a damaged wing(similar to Nemo in Finding Nemo) and is unable to fly. Ori retrieves one of Kuro’s giant feathers which they tie to Ku’s wing, allowing her to take to the skies. One fateful flight however, finds Ku and Ori soaring through the trees as a storm begins brewing. Kuro’s feather is knocked from Ku’s impaired wing and sends the two plummeting down to the forest below. Ori is separated from Ku in their descent and begins a journey through the woods of Niwen to reunite before coming across the Moki, a tribe of small meerkat-like creatures who offer to assist Ori in finding Ku. The animations in Ori and the Will of the Wisps are among the most beautiful animations I’ve seen in a game. The visuals are so fluid and vibrant colors provide an aboslutely gorgeous game. In addition to the colorful environments, the game’s hauntingly beautiful score provides an emotive atmosphere to a game that can be both heart-wrenching and downright terrifying. Very early on in the game, Ori is chased by the giant ravenous wolf – Howl. You must quickly make your way over a skeletal bridge of some unlucky creature’s spine before being cornered and must face the bloodthirsty beast. Your only weapon, the first given in the game is a torch lying near a small campfire. The first boss battle you are thrust into is fighting off Howl armed with only a torch. This marked just one of presumably many moments, if anything like the previous game that proved intense and exhilarating.

Ori and the Blind Forest proved to be a magical game that had the unique ability to make me smile, shriek in terror, and cry all within the same gameplay session. I have only invested a few hours into Will of the Wisps, but I already feel this game is everything the previous game was, and then some. As foolish as it may be to begin predicting games that will end up on my end of the year favorites list, Ori and the Will of the Wisps has the makings of Game of the Year for me, it’s that damn good.

If you’ve played Will of the Wisps yet, what do you think of it so far? What are some games that you’re still looking forward to spending some more time on? Let me know. Thanks for reading!