T'was over a hot cup of coffee on a cold February morning when I discovered an email in my inbox from Controller Chaos, drawing my attention to their range of colorful Xbox and PlayStation controllers.
Having never purchased a custom Xbox controller before, my interest was piqued, in part due to the awesome custom backplates Mozo Accessories built for the Lumia 950 range.
After a brief discussion, it appeared that Controller Chaos already had a design in mind, but I figured if I were to review their process, I should give them something a little more challenging — particularly when you take my poor Photoshop skills into account. Here's how it went.
I'm a huge fan of Twin Peaks, an early 90s horror soap opera. Sure, it's a little obscure; Controller Chaos themselves hadn't heard of it, but the series has been massively influential on both TV, and video games.
There are dozens, maybe hundreds of Twin Peaks references in games and TV shows (if you know anymore, post them in the comments!), but I believe this could be the very first Twin Peaks Xbox controller in the world — awesome.
When it came to choosing a theme, I decided that I'd base it on Twin Peak's infamous Red Room scene, which features a stark zig-zag patterned floor and foreboding red drapes. I took the pattern and awkwardly splayed it on top of a picture of a Xbox One Elite Controller, and emailed it away. The results Controller Chaos delivered far exceeded my expectations (and my Photoshop skills).
When you consider the Xbox One Elite Controller's collection of customizable parts there was plenty of room for error, particularly when I requested sharply contrasting colors and a precise pattern. Controller Chaos were able to spread the custom design right up to the edges of every port and every button, without interfering with the Elite controller's rubber grips or metal features. Controller Chaos went above and beyond, painting the Elite controller's optional back paddles and trigger lock switches, to ensure every aspect of the job matched the overall theme I'd requested.
I took these pictures using a Lumia 950 XL, and with its capable macro focus and zooming capabilities, I wasn't able to discern any instances of smudging or shoddy paintwork in Controller Chaos' work. The glossy paint is evenly spread and perfectly smooth, there's not a single smudge or uneven seam, and every feature of the Xbox One Elite Controller works as you'd expect.
Controller Chaos shipped it complete with the Xbox One Elite packaging, interchangeable joysticks, D-pad and custom-painted paddles, complete with a branded carry case for gaming on the go. Shipping was rapid, customer service was responsive, and the pricing is reasonable considering the quality work on offer. I've used the controller heavily for a month, and there's no signs that the colors will become worn over time.
Beyond personalized designs, Controller Chaos also offer an abundance of existing models via their website, with some themed on popular games such as Fallout 4 and Call of Duty. If you want something a little more personalized, you can either use their in-browser design tool or contact them directly with your own concept as I did, although the company are working on new ways to upload your personal plans directly to the website too. Make no mistake; Controller Chaos only work with the official hardware from Microsoft. They offer a 60-day warranty on parts and labor which can be extended further if you want some additional assurance.
I've always been sceptical of custom controllers, perhaps due to bad memories of hack-job no-brand PS1 and N64 controllers, but Controller Chaos have made me a believer. If you're in the market for a unique Xbox Standard or Elite controller, I highly recommend you give them a look.
What would inspire your custom Xbox controller design? Sound off in the comments!