E3 2015: First Impressions of the Xbox Elite Controller and Super Mario Maker

Now that E3 2015 has come to a close, I’ve put together a roundup covering two of the standout launches: the Xbox One Elite Controller and Super Mario Maker.

Microsoft emerged as the big winners of E3 this year, with the marketing vice president Leah Pope stating that the event generated more than 3.7 million online conversations and that 74% of all online mentions were centred around the Xbox. What has driven the gaming community into a frenzy on social media? Well, alongside numerous game announcements the company revealed to us their next step in the gaming evolutionary chain: the Xbox One Elite Controller. Microsoft have come up with the best possible name for their product, as this controller (and its price point) is definitely for the elite.

At the other end of the spectrum E3 provided gamers with the latest offering from Nintendo, Super Mario Maker. There are a few reasons why Super Mario Maker is completely different from any of its predecessors, and this is quite an interesting move from Nintendo, which could easily give the lagging brand a new lease of life.

First Impressions of the Xbox Elite Controller

The first thing you notice about the Xbox One Elite is its appearance. It is certainly a sleek looking piece of kit. Gone are the brightly coloured buttons, replaced simply with black, and there are extra trigger buttons on the back. The new back is also rubberised with a slightly heavier feel, probably in part down to the stainless steel components. It looks expensive, it feels expensive. The only downside? It is expensive. Microsoft have announced that it will be coming in at £129.99, however, other elite gamepads are coming in at around £80 and don’t receive great reviews.

At these prices this is not one for the casual gamers, but if you are looking for a top of the range controller then the Xbox One Elite might be for you.

Pros of the Controller

There is a reason so many people are rushing to preorder the controller. It is the most intuitive piece of kit on the market – you can tell it has been made with gamers in mind from the minute you start to use it.

xbox one elite controller

For the first time ever you have the ability to change the controls, it comes with six different options for the analog stick and an alternative for the standard D pad, four different paddles, and I’m sure it won’t be long until other brands start releasing their offerings too. Not only can you change the controls (very quickly and easily, and the analog sticks and D pad simply click into place with magnets), but Microsoft have also created an app that allows you to change the sensitivity internally through the software. Benefiting from an inbuilt memory, if the controller is shared between two different gamers it will remember their configuration, plus there is a switch that lets users change profiles mid game. You can store hundreds more profiles in the cloud.

The adjustable paddles do not feel cumbersome, you find yourself adjusting fairly quickly. The back of the controller also holds space for four extra buttons, and all buttons can be assigned to whatever function you desire, in games that support this. Your hands are still able to move comfortably around the controller and with the new rubberised underside, any issues with sweaty hands are now a thing of the past, greatly improving the quality of your grip.

Cons of the Controller

After using this device for the first time it is difficult to think of many reasons not to rush out and preorder it. Apart from the price, the only other downside I can see is that, so far, there is no talk of a Play & Charge battery; the controller just uses AA batteries, so enthusiasts better stock up before October.

First Impression of Super Mario Maker

As the name suggests Super Mario Maker gives you the power to create your own Super Mario levels and upload them for other users to play (it is worth noting that while other users can download and edit your levels they cannot upload their edits). Allowing players to create and edit worlds within such an iconic game is one of the most welcome and well executed concepts in years.

mario maker

Nintendo will score all the levels based on how many people successfully complete them (meaning users cannot upload impossible levels), and you can refine your search by location, difficulty level, user rating etc. You also have the option to follow your favourite designers and see other levels they have created or recommended, allowing you to truly tailor the experience to your own needs/skill level.

It combines elements from multiple games across multiple platforms: Super Mario Bros. (NES), Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES), Super Mario World (SNES), and New Super Mario Bros (Wii, Wii U).

Pros of Super Mario Maker

As a self-confessed Nintendo fan boy, this could be a very long list from me. If executed correctly this could be Nintendo’s version of Minecraft in terms of universal appeal and longevity. It is truly accessible and enjoyable for people of all ages and all ability levels. The possibilities for creating and playing new levels are potentially limitless and Nintendo make it very easy to get started, providing a very handy book outlining all the basic elements, and 100 pre-installed levels in case you are unable to get online.

When creating your own levels, not only are you allowed to play around with the usual pipes and bricks, but you can change the theme of the level, for example making it underwater. You can also play with the appearance of enemies, changing their size, combining two to create a real challenge, or placing items in a level that wouldn’t normally exist in that era. The game gives you so many possibilities for creativity. There is also the addition of new items, like the Mystery Mushroom, which will transform Mario into any number of different characters. Nintendo have announced that the game will support Amiibo (their NFC-enabled toys)giving the potential for crossover appearances from characters like Link.

Cons of Super Mario Maker

Again, it is difficult to find many negatives about this product. The only potential problem Nintendo may find is that Super Mario Maker may limit their ability to release more Mario themed games in the future, as so many concepts are going to be covered if/when this game takes off. Availability on the Wii U limits Nintendo’s audience for the game too.

Key E3 Takeaways

Now that you’ve had a look at these two products from the E3 event, here are some of the main takeaways.

While at first look the price tag may shock you, the overwhelming consensus is that the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller is worth every single penny. The benefits easily outweigh the cons for a truly modular, durable and stylish controller. This controller has the potential to create a whole new level for various players. Appealing to the hardcore and competitive gamers, it is the Mercedes to the stock controller’s Toyota.

Super Mario Maker is a game to really get excited about. If marketed properly, it could be the software that sells Nintendo’s Wii U, but is that a good or bad thing with semi-confirmed rumours of Nintendo’s work on a console to replace it? Super Mario Maker could open the doors for competition on classic Mario titles in eSports, an idea that is somewhat confirmed by the stellar crowd and viewer reactions to Super Mario Maker’s appearance in the recent Nintendo World Championships.

If you want to hear more about Super Mario and Xbox Elite, take a look at more articles I’ve written.

This article was written by our special guest contributor Patrick Scott Patterson. Cheers Patrick!

About Patrick:

patrick-scott-patterson-1280Patrick Scott Patterson
Gaming since 1981, Patrick Scott Patterson has appeared in a variety of video game films such as World 1-1 and Nintendo Quest, live events such as San Diego Comic-Con and South By Southwest and a variety of television, radio and print media as a go-to expert on video game culture and history.

An unscripted television show about Patterson’s adventures is currently in development.


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