E3 2012: Hands On: Wii U Pro Controller

E3 2012: Hands On: Wii U Pro Controller

On Sunday, Nintendo announced the existence of the Wii U Pro Controller. A paddle for gamers looking for a more “core” experience on the upcoming Wii U. While it certainly looks similar to other controllers we’ve become all too familiar with, it does feature quite a few differences as well.

The first thing that I immediately noticed was just how light it was. Although it was secured to one of the many game stations in Nintendo’s booth (which added some slight bulk and weight), it still managed to feel even lighter than Sony’s original SixAxis remote (remember those?). You still have to take into consideration that even though it may look like final product in the press shots you’re seeing this week, it’s still very much pre-launch hardware that we’re looking at here, but  when they eventually add in a battery to the picture, I can’t imagine it being that much heavier than it is.

Comfort is the second thing that came to mind. The backside of the Pro Controller has a contour and shape similar to the Xbox 360’s remote which, whether you’re a fan or not, you simply cannot deny that it’s a perfect shape for shooters, and marathon gaming in general. One thing it actually does better than the 360 remote is that it hugs your ring fingers as they grasp underneath the ZL and ZR triggers making it feel so ergonomic that you don’t want to put it down.

So how about the not-so-good? Look no further than the controller’s face buttons, analog sticks, and triggers to rain on this controller’s parade. I know that may sound weird considering how much I praised it for overall shape and feel, but comfort has nothing to do with what I’m talking about here

The controller’s face buttons don’t have anything particularly wrong with their “clicky-ness” or responsiveness, it’s more about the awkward placement and how far away that are from the analog sticks. The issue with the triggers is that they’re not in the shape of actual, you know… triggers. They’re simply longer buttons that happen to be located in a spot where you’d expect to find more curvature. And unfortunately the analog sticks are convex (like the PS3), instead of (the more comfortable) concave configuration (like the 360), found on the remote a year ago when it was still featuring the circle pads.

Keep in mind that this is still somewhat of an early look at the Wii U Pro Controller; so early that direct pictures of it weren’t allowed on the show floor. Nintendo now has the opportunity to take some of the feedback that they receive from this week and make changes accordingly. If the recent adjustments to the Wii U gamepad are an indication of anything, it’s that nothing is written in stone until it ships. With its comfortable shape and light-as-a-feather weight, Nintendo definitely has the chance to get this right, which will be to the delight of many “core” gamers, myself included.