Hands-On with PDP’s REALMz Controllers at Pax West 2023

I was able to make my way over to the Seattle Convention Center in time for Pax West 2023. With being able to make it over there, I was able to find my way to the booth of PDP and their presentation and demonstration of their upcoming PDP REALMz controllers, and since they had several on hand, I was able to get some hands-on with them with several games. I was given a controller with Sonic the Hedgehog’s Knuckles on the inside of the corner to try out.

My initial thought was how shocked I was with how light the controller was. Newer controllers seem to constantly focus on heavier and heavier materials with a bigger outside shell for controllers to make it feel heavier. Holding this controller was extremely comfortable due to how light it felt in my hands.

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The controllers were wired to the console I was playing on, which was the Nintendo Switch, and thus I wasn’t able to tell if there was any input lag or latency issues. However, the REALMz controllers are wireless, so don’t worry about having yet another wired controller.

Pressing buttons felt nice, and there was a nice-sounding click when pressing down on them. The shoulder buttons were more quiet than I was expecting, but I wouldn’t think of that as a bad thing. Just a preference that some people like louder and heftier shoulder buttons. The design was ergonomic, and it felt comfortable in my hand. I gave Sonic Frontiers a go using this controller, and it was a worthwhile experience. I probably only spent 15 minutes or so using the controller, but I could feel that it was a quality controller.

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If there is one nitpick I have with the REALMz controller and my time with it, is how durable the controller is. With it being so light and having a see-through plastic material, I didn’t get a good gauge of how durable it could be. I didn’t get to test it to see if it could take a fall from a small height or even a lot of pressure during intense gaming sessions. I would want to test out that factor of the controller.

I don’t imagine it as a big issue if you are a collector of controllers since collectors can get quite particular with their arrangement of controllers. If you are buying this controller for playing intense games, I would imagine it being a good thing to know just how rough you can get with one of these controllers before they break. That said, don’t try getting it for Armored Core 6 if you aren’t sure how intense you will be on this controller.

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There will be three series of REALMz controllers in their collectible figurine line-up. The first one was the one they were immediately showing off as the Sonic the Hedgehog line. There will also be a Transformers line and a Pikmin line-up. PDP hopes to continue with this line, and a lot of the inspiration comes from their work in Disney Infinite on the figurines. They also were showing off the Victrix line of fight pads for fighting games, but since I’m not big on fighting games, which is where the Victrix controller line-up is catered towards.

I was more interested in the collectible figurine-type REALMz controllers since they could go even farther than where it is now, and I do hope we get to see some more collaborations, like with more Nintendo properties or even getting some Halo figurines on the Xbox side. It would be hilarious to be able to play the Xbox Series X with a little grunt inside the controller! They currently have these controllers for Nintendo Switch and Xbox consoles.

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Having the REALMz controller be transparent makes it easy to see all the screws and the nuts and bolts that keep everything together. I can imagine that the controller is easy to fix if anything does break due to that fact. The question that comes to mind, though, is what does the figurine do when you screw off the back or front pieces of the controller?

Overall, my time at the PDP booth trying out the REALMz controllers was a positive one. The build was high quality, and the controller felt very comfortable and light. They also showed off some of their headsets in the same line, sadly, I did not get a chance to listen to the audio or test the mic quality of the headset. You can currently preorder and reserve both the controller and headset over on PDP’s website.