Tom Bramwell writes:
''If there's one thing wrong with the Xbox 360 (apart from being about as robust as a pillar of flour in a hurricane), it's that the directional pad on the otherwise-excellent controller is useless. It's hard enough to navigate the dashboard menus: scrolling through lists, the cursor flies off to adjacent boxes as the d-pad decides it's been angled left or right; and inputting text with the on-screen keyboard is like driving one of those carnival bicycles where the handlebars and front wheel turn in different directions. For games like Pro Evolution Soccer, Street Fighter II and Pac-Man Championship Edition, it's necessary to fall back on the analogue stick - a weaker option for precise, reflexive directional combinations, but in the 360's case still a dramatic improvement.
That's why Microsoft's decision to rejig the Xbox 360 d-pad for a new version of the controller, due for release in October, drew so much attention when the pad mysteriously appeared on Konami's PES stand at Games Convention in August - and why the manufacturer's apparent disinterest is baffling. It wasn't just announced with little fanfare; it wasn't actually announced. We had to drag a statement out of Microsoft to confirm it was even new, and at the time of writing the company has been unable to give us a detailed explanation of how the pad's reported 32-direction input will be implemented in games, whether it will be available for developers to patch for retrospectively, or even whether PESFan's claim that the new d-pad will be included in all future Xbox 360 controllers - not just the limited-edition lime-green version due out next month - is true.''