Hands on with PDP’s REALMz at PAX West

We recently reported on the announcement of a brand new line of products from PDP that might be targeted towards a younger set of players. Despite the less discerning demographic, REALMz pairs affordability, reliability and aesthetics in a single package. I can see parents who don’t want to replace pricey 1st party controllers. So when offered an opportunity to get hands on at this year’s PAX West it was a no-brainer to travel to the show floor at the Seattle Convention Center’s Arch Building to check out a new realm of accessories.

Paired with Mike from PDP I was given a rundown of the line. Out on display were primarily the Sonic the Hedgehog line of REALMz controllers and headsets and the first thing that caught my focus was the figurine that is encased  As the company who facilitated the manufacturing of the figurines of the highly underrated Toys-to-life line Disney Infinity, I wasn’t shocked by the quality and the level of detail seen in the figurine . Slightly over an inch tall, Sonic was fully recognizable and the paint application was quite clean. Details such as the treads on the bottom of Sonic’s shoes were present. The shell and the circuit boards of the controller are also decorated with decals in keeping with the item’s theme.

The controllers and headsets incorporate various advancements that PDP has pioneered such as controller based volume controls and durable, lightweight polypropylene headband. While I prefer to test controllers using fighting games (The booth had a Street Fighter VI setup, but those were set to demonstrate Victrix’s Pro FS line of Fight Sticks.), I opted to take a brisk run in Sonic Frontier’s Starfall Island. With vast swaths of rolling plains, navigating the terrain was a breeze, stopping and turning was an afterthought. I even took on some of the roaming enemies in the open zone taking on a Bubble in an encounter that left the robot victorious (How was I supposed to know it emits an electric aura…someone else on the site covered the game!). Overall no complaints on the controller as a whole.

Returning the figurines, PDP secured licenses from Hasbro and Nintendo and promised other licensees in the near future. REALMz’s only Nintendo based offering consisted of Pikmin, but with its rich library of IPs it will be interesting to see what the PDP design team will cook up for properties such as Mario, Legend of Zelda. Its Transformers controller was interesting as the figurine consisted of the decapitated head of the autobot leader Optimus Prime, however given Transformers did have a line where tinier robots formed the head of larger transformers (Headmasters…look it up!) I guess it’s only slightly jarring. In a subsequent conversation with another PDP rep, given that there’s a new GI Joe game that got announced during PAX West and PDP having already an existing relationship with Hasbro, perhaps a line of GI Joe REALMz accessories that illuminate red and blue like the lasers fired the Joes and Cobra respectively.

All the fantasy product development aside, REALMz will definitely be a hit with the younger set and I can see it being quite a stocking stuffer for younger gamers at the end of the year. It will be interesting to see what other licensees PDP can snag, let’s hope REALMz will be expansive and long lasting!