Hands-On: Power A’s Batarang Controllers

Gotham City is going to be shaken up on October 18; that’s the day Batman makes his return to gaming with Batman: Arkham City, arriving on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. For good measure, the accessory manufacturers at Power A are preparing a pair of special controllers made specifically for fans of the Dark Knight, which should release around the same time. They are the Official Batarang Controllers, sub-licensed through Warner Bros. Consumer Products and licensed for use on their respective consoles. Power A recently invited us to go hands-on with the product, to which we happily obliged.

First, you should know specifics. Both controllers are somewhat bulky, yet still somewhat comfortable, thanks to the rubber grips that go around the handles and easy-to-use buttons on the face of each controller. In addition, they’re light-up models, and you can switch colors on the fly by pressing a button on the front of the controller. Are you in a blue mood? Perhaps you want Batman’s vengeance to run blood red? The choice is yours.

Like most third-party accessories, the Xbox 360 Batarang is not a wireless model. It attaches to the system via a wire that connects to your console. However, before you go thinking that this limits you, keep in mind that the controller comes with a 10-foot cable, so you can still move around the room, if need be, and show everyone your Bat-ty gaming skills. It’s a hump that the company couldn’t get around, since the only wireless controllers made for the Xbox 360 are by Microsoft.

As for the PS3 controller, it is a wireless model, one powered by batteries. (The unit comes packaged with a pair of batteries, and they’re easily replaceable through a panel.) It has the same set of features as the Xbox 360 model, complete with a faceplate with buttons that form a mini Batman emblem on the front and a comfortable feel that stays with you over time. It also lights up, but you can turn the lights off if you want to conserve your battery energy for gameplay.

Though we weren’t able to test the controllers out as far as gameplay goes, the feel for the controller is actually quite nice, and we’re digging the ergonomic design – something you don’t really see in most custom controllers these days. As we stated, the build is somewhat thick, which could make the controller tougher for younger or smaller hands, but it only took us about a minute or so to come to grips with it and see what it had to offer. It’ll no doubt be a favorite for collectors once the game comes out alongside it.

It’s a little pricier than other controllers – Power A has it set to come out around $49.99 – but it’s a must for collectors, and a quality performing product in its own right (at least from the time that we’ve spent with it). We’ll have a final review when the controller hits stores this October. Stay tuned, Bat fiends!