Wii U Pro, making the GamePad optional since 2012.
Nintendo confused gamers worldwide when it announced that the Wii U would support three controllers upon release. Choosing between the Wii-mote and Wii U Pro controller has been a decision nearly every Wii U owner has faced, especially given the console’s—and Nintendo’s—commitment to exciting local multiplayer experiences.
To save you time and money figuring out whether or not the Wii U Pro’s $50 pricetag is worth it, we decided to get one for ourselves. So, was it worth the purchase?
At first inspection the Wii U Pro’s design resembles Microsoft’s fan-favorite Xbox 360 controller, and for good reason. It’s been shaped with ergonomics in mind, and it pleasantly falls into your grasp when you hold it for your first time. Long play sessions are even more comfortable than with the Wii U GamePad since its size and palm grips are traditional.
As with the GamePad, the analog stick placement takes a little getting used to. You’ve played video games for years with the right analog stick on the bottom, but Nintendo boldly placed both sticks above the D-pad and face buttons respectively for Wii U’s controllers. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself jumping instead of reloading or kicking instead of punching. When all is said and done, the placement works well and actually enhances the comfort level since you can lay both palms on the flat surface of the controller.
The analog sticks smoothly glide around their housing, and each stick has a ring around its convex surface. Unlike the DualShock family of controllers, finger slippage requires a lot of torque to produce and the placement of each input provides a sense of balance. The face buttons and D-pad are very similar to the GamePad with a smooth texture and dependable action. The D-pad in particular is fantastic and fighting game fans without an arcade stick may find it to be their new weapon of choice.
Unfortunately, the ZL and ZR trigger buttons, which will get a ton of use in shooters, have some issues. The most glaring is the fact that they’re digital instead of analog. Because of this, they will be next to useless for racing games and other titles that require input sensitivity. The other problem is how the buttons are shaped. They have a low profile and don’t protrude enough, so you’ll find yourself occasionally not pressing hard enough or accidently letting go during firefights. Needless to say, this can cause some frustrating moments.
One area where the Wii U Pro excels is in battery life. Not only does it hold a charge for around 80 hours, but it can be recharged via USB on the Wii U, PC, or any other device with a USB port and a source of power. It’s almost surprising once it runs out of battery after you go weeks or even months without having to plug it in. Although there’s currently no driver support on Windows, soon there should be a solution for making the Wii U Pro a go-to controller for PC games as well.
Apart from the lack of a headphone jack, the worst thing that can be said about the Wii U Pro has nothing to do with the controller itself, but rather its support from developers—or lack thereof. Presently, very few games can be played with it, and it doesn’t work at all with Wii games. Additionally, the Wii U’s most innovative feature is its GamePad, so using the Wii U Pro controller can feel a bit counter-active. But if you’re playing competitive games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops II, then precision and comfort may be your first priority.
The Wii U Pro controller is arguably the most well-rounded controller the world has ever seen. Your friends will love you for letting them use it instead of the Wii-mote during local multiplayer; well, assuming the game you’re playing supports it, anyway. It’s not a must-have since so few games currently allow it to be used, but if you’re into shooters, fighting games, or have friends over often, then it’s worth the investment. If you still feel insecure about purchasing it then just wait a few more months to see if developers take it more seriously, and then you can buy it with confidence.