The lights are on
Custom faceplates may have gone out of style immediately after the Xbox 360 launched, but custom controllers are a whole different story.
Microsoft experimented with customization and hardware with the original Xbox, releasing a translucent green console with a translucent green controller packaged with Halo. With the release of Halo 3, however, Microsoft didn't hold back. Along with releasing a special console with the game included, Microsoft got comic book artist Todd McFarlane to design art to emblazon a pair of individually sold Xbox 360 controllers.
It must have been a success, because Microsoft has released a handful of other game-themed custom controllers over the years. Here they all are in photographic form.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 - Despite Call of Duty's massive success, only one game has been worthy of its own controller, and for some reason that was Modern Warfare 3. Everyone's favorite Call of Duty?
Fable 3 - It looks like it's supposed to be a crown, an important thematic element of Fable 3, but it could just be swirled caramel.
Gears of War 3 - The Gears of War franchise may be one of the Xbox 360's most successful properties, but only the third game in the series was worthy of its own controller. It was also included in the special edition Gears of War 3 console. The skull is placed in such a way that it will be obscured by your hand while playing the game. That way it won't scare you.
Halo - Every Halo game that has released on Xbox 360 has received its own dedicated special controller, sometimes more than one. Halo 3 got two and a half controllers (see my reasoning in the honorable mention section below), ODST got one, Reach got one, and Halo 4 got two. So, if you really love Halo, then you probably own six and half controllers for a game that only allows up to four local players.
Star Wars Kinect - There are two ways to get your hands on the only controller C-3PO would ever use. One requires that you buy the Star Wars Kinect bundle. The other is to pay much more than you probably should from someone online.
Tomb Raider - The most recently released custom controller, Lara Croft gets her own special edition controller in honor of her rebirth. It's all beat up, has a bandage on it, and is covered in thumbprints. It looks like the controller you force your younger cousin to play with, but the joke's on you, because it's all aesthetic. It works fine, I promise.
Honorable mention - The controllers below aren't very fancy. The one on the left was included with the Halo 3 Xbox 360 console bundle, and isn't sold outside of its inclusion with that bundle, but it doesn't bear any Halo logos or art. The red controller on the right is available to buy separately, but for a time, it was only available with the Resident Evil 5 Xbox 360 console bundle.
Which controller is your favorite? Or do you break them all eventually anyway by shattering them against a wall after a heated round of multiplayer and choose not to invest?
Email the author Kyle Hilliard, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.