SNES-Style Controller For PC And Xbox One - Hyperkin X91 Impressions
By Michael Higham on
The Box and Controller
There’s a fine line between nostalgia and practicality when it comes to peripherals that pay tribute to past generations. The Hyperkin X91, branded as a “90’s style” gamepad, goes beyond novelty by being a fully functional wired USB controller for Xbox One and PC. Let’s run down our impressions of the X91 after extended use.
Despite being a small, retro-like controller, the X91 features two joysticks, a D-pad, and four face buttons plus start/select, which reflects the Xbox One interface. A bright white LED sits at the center to indicate that the controller is on and the Xbox home button sits above.
The A, B, X, Y face buttons are slightly smaller than the normal Xbox One controller, but it’s not entirely noticeable. The buttons on the X91 have a distinct click and feel more responsive than the original controller.
Joysticks and D-pad
Both joysticks on the X91 have the full range of motion of larger controllers and protrude out of the face just the same. One difference is that the sticks feel a bit more stiff to move out of its dead zone compared to the normal Xbox One’s. Though it lacks a tactile click, the D-pad is soft and responsive which we prefer.
Triggers and Bumpers
The left and right bumpers on the X91 are actually an improvement over the normal controllers. Actuation of the bumpers is more consistent with a soft, yet tactile feel and offers more surface area.
However, the stiff left and right triggers fall short of matching the quality of Microsoft’s official controllers. They are initially soft to depress, but get progressively resistant as they bottom out. It feels like you’re fighting with a piece of foam that’s stuck inside the triggers.
Back of the Controller
With this being a compact throwback controller, it ditches the modern full-hand grips, which can make holding it tricky. It’s also slightly harder to make precise movements with the sticks since the controller is difficult to hold completely steady. There are deep grooves to help your fingers grip underneath the controller, but it’s an overall compromise with the retro-ergonomic design.
Unfortunately, the X91’s cord is thick and uses a heavy rubber casing, which is a curious design choice. Wired controllers are better off with a braided cable to avoid kinks and tangling. The weight of the cable also hampers ergonomics as it anchors the otherwise lightweight controller downward. You can try to mitigate this issue by resting it on a surface that's at the same height as your hands.
A convenient 3.5mm audio jack for headphones and earbuds lies under the controller.
The X91 measures at about 5.8 inches wide, 2.8 inches tall, and 1.9 inches deep.
After spending hours using the Hyperkin X91 with several games, we feel that it works great in many cases. Any game that doesn’t require precise aim or a series of quick reactions may benefit from a light, compact controller. Castle Crashers and Shovel Knight were a great fit and it worked well for a quick match of Rocket League. However, precision is important for more serious matches and it’s ultimately not the best choice for comfort and accuracy as we felt when playing Doom.
The Hyperkin X91 functions well overall and does some things better than regular controllers--D-pad and bumpers--but its form isn’t ideal for every situation.
It’s available now for around $30 from several retailers. GameSpot was provided with the controller courtesy of Hyperkin.