PDP REALMz Sonic controller review - a (Sonic) prime treat

PDP REALMz Sonic Speed controller in front of a tiled wall
Credit: StealthOptional

PDP REALMz Sonic Speed controller in front of a tiled wall
Credit: StealthOptional

There's already a vast variety of kid-centric controllers, but the PDP REALMz Sonic Speed controller for Xbox does something a little different. Rather than bright decals cheaply plastered on a controller shell, the transparent REALMz peripheral features a small print design, and a figure of Sonic the Hedgehog trapped in the right side.

In fact, much of the PDP REALMz featuring Sonic and his cohort feature similar designs, including the Tails and Knuckles controllers, as well as the aptly titled Sonic Go Fast wired headset. But it's not enough to simply have an eye-catching design, but it also needs to a be a worthwhile purchase. So, does it fulfil the needs of a good controller, or is it simply another licenced bit of hardware that is simply for sales?

There's a small plot twist in this review. While plenty of outlets will review PDP's REALMz line up as a standard article, I've actually enlisted the help of my five year old son, who is currently Sonic-obsessed, to help me write about the controller.

Sonic figure inside the right handle of the REALMz Sonic Speed controller
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Credit: StealthOptional

Of course, the aforementioned Sonic figure trapped within the shell of the controller is the highlight of the design. Attached to a small bit of plastic, the figure shows Sonic mid-run, floating within the right handle. It definitely makes it much more exciting compared to standard licenced controllers. I also prefer the blue accents, alongside a black board within the controller using blue iconography over the brightly coloured and over-the-top design of the Switch version.

The controller is, unfortunately, wired only. I used it mostly alongside my gaming PC, so I didn't have any issues with this myself, however, I know that plenty of people may. Thankfully, it comes with a fairly lengthy USB-C cable, giving you roughly eight feet of wire to reach your home entertainment setup.

The controller also sports a nice white light that flares up behind the controller when it's on, which also highlights some of the blue iconography inside. It's pretty bright, so it might be a bit blinding for those late night gaming sessions, but otherwise, it's a fairly nice detail.

Fortunately, the controller also feels very tactile. All of the standard buttons have some good feedback to them, and while the weird design of the bumpers takes some getting used to, they both feel great. The triggers are a bit soft to push, but they're not terrible compared to some third-party controllers that I've used in the past. Considering the kid-friendly focus of the REALMz perphierals, the Sonic Speed controller is a surprisingly strong Xbox controller alone, especially with the customisable back buttons too.

Back buttons and the behind of the REALMz Sonic Speed controller
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Credit: StealthOptional

Unfortunately, the vibration is fairly weak and feels like the cheapest part of the controller. I wasn't expecting great haptics, but I'd much rather there be none at all. In fact, with most games, I simply turned it off, which I strongly recommend you do yourself. It's a shame in what is otherwise an excellent controller overall.

As for the design and the overall look, it's definitely a great controller for any Sonic fans. My son, as an avid and sudden Sonic fan, adores it, taking it wherever we go, no matter if an Xbox or PC is in sight. In fact, it went missing during my review period as he had taken it to go to bed one night, leaving it on his bedside. Considering how little he cares about stuffed toys or the like going to bed with him, a Sonic controller is a weird, but happy surprise, and goes to show how well PDP has handled the design.

The PDP REALMz Sonic Speed controller's main appeal may be the fact that SEGA's beloved mascot resides in almost every inch of this Xbox peripheral, which it does excellently may I add, but the fact its a great controller in general definitely makes it a great investment. While a lack of wireless compatibility and middling haptics keep it from reaching a perfect score, it's certainly a must-have for any fans of the blue blur, and an excellent third-party controller.

PDP REALMz Sonic Speed controller
SEGA's beloved mascot has always been found on various products, but the PDP REALMz Sonic Speed controller is arguably one of the best ways to handle a licenced product. It's an excellent controller that is only let down by some weak haptics and being wired-only, but it's still a must-have for any Sonic fans.
8 out of 10
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