When it comes to colorful controller designs, Xbox’s game has been on point for years. Ever since the Xbox One generation, Microsoft has released many fun variations of its controllers — including limited editions and the Xbox Design Lab — and this momentum has not slowed with the Xbox Series X / S consoles. Meanwhile, the third-party range of Xbox controllers is more expansive than ever, and brands like PowerA are hitting budget-friendly prices with slick new colorways of their own, like the recently released pastel range of the $37.99 PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller for Xbox and PC.
Announced back in March as a spring collection, these new pastel colors for the Enhanced Wired line include purple camo, lavender swirl, pink lemonade, pastel dream, and cotton candy blue. Pink lemonade seemed like the clear winner to me at first with its sleek yellow-to-pink gradient, but now having seen and handled all five colors in person, I can officially declare cotton candy blue as the best looker. It’s actually a bit more seafoam blueish-greenish than its name indicates, but regardless, it’s a bold yet soft monochromatic hue on this controller.
But all five pastel designs look great overall, with varied uses of gradients, mottled patterns, and/or two-tone contrast on front and back that gives each one a unique signature. Sure, it’s a shame that these controllers are still saddled with outdated Micro USB connections, but I’ll give some credit to PowerA for at least opting for a white detachable cable with each one to better complement the light and airy look.
I’d still love to see an entirely new version of the Enhanced Wired Controller that finally upgrades to USB-C and maybe even squeezes in a couple more rear customizable buttons without cluttering things up too much. But grips aside, there’s a lot to love about the aesthetic of these bright new colorways. The Enhanced Wired Controller has been our top pick for the best budget Xbox controller you can buy, thanks in large part to its very fair price while nailing the essentials for a wired controller. I can’t say these new colors go so far as to make a good thing better, as they’re functionally the same, but they are refreshing enough to make them feel somehow improved.
These cool new pastels are now readily available at many retailers, and it won’t be a surprise if they start seeing discounts and sales of their own like many others in PowerA’s lineup. They’re a small breath of budget-tier fresh air, and they’re a nice addition to a summer of gaming that’s got new local multiplayer games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge (a good reason to need extra affordable controllers, as it supports up to six players on Xbox and PC).
Photography by Antonio G. Di Benedetto / The Verge