E3 2012: Nintendo Wii U Game Pad and Game Pad Pro Hands On Impressions

Hey everyone! Sorry for the late updates, but better late than never! E3 just closed a few weeks back and the dust has finally settled with all the news being announced. I was there all three days and got to play lots of games, many of the impressions are coming soon so stay tuned but right now lets focus on what was one of the most talked about topics at the show: the Wii U. We finally have confirmation on what the final form factor of the new controller will be like, with the rumored analog sticks confirmed and some of the buttons rearranged. Newly added to the controller is the TV button near the bottom next to the power light, which uses the infrared port at the top of the controller to turn your controller into a universal remote for your television. Also the left picture  of the boxes is now confirmed to be the Near Field Communication read/write area. The battery life has been confirmed to be between 3-5 hours long on a single charge, but can be played with while charging so the battery life should not be a problem. Lastly, its hard to see it from pictures but the controller is a bit wider than last years prototype model. But the big question is, how does it feel? Read on and find out!

So from the looks of it, the controller seems massive and to be frank it kinda is as we are all used to our Xbox 360 controllers and DualShocks but it is not an issue at all. The controller feels great in the hands, being not too heavy and offering a great fit for the analog sticks, face buttons and access to the triggers on the back. The controller now supports hand ridges that provide a better grip on the controller as well. The buttons are about the same size as traditional face buttons on the PS3 and Xbox and offer the same semi-squishy press as opposed to the clicky button presses on a 3DS or Vita for example. The analog sticks now depress to offer an L3 or R3 button, a first for Nintendo. The triggers are now curved which helps controller stability and are confirmed to be digital and give a nice click feeling. However, I wish they were more like the Xbox 360’s analog triggers which offer more of a spring feedback and varying degrees of intensity that can be used in games for analog feedback. Overall the controller feels great, and its a fantastic upgrade from last year’s prototype model which felt weird with its dual circle pads although the controller might not be best suited to be played for long periods of time. That’s where the Wii U Game Pad Pro comes in.

Wii U Game Pad Pro Controller

The first thing you might notice right away is how similar the design is to the Xbox 360 controller, which is not a bad thing at all considering how comfortable that controller is. The big glaring difference is the right analog stick and face buttons have been switched. I got to play a couple of games with the controller, Rayman Legends and ZombiU, and the controller holds up really well, especially on ZombiU. The controller is lightweight but still offers a little bit of heft much like the Xbox controller, and your thumbs instinctively rest on the two analog sticks with ease. One of the issues I was having was to wrap my brain around the buttons placement such as reaching down to press the face buttons when I needed them. Playing the Xbox 360 for almost 7 years messed me up a little bit as there were times when playing the games that I went to reach my thumb for the right analog stick only for it to not be there. Of course this be a non-issue after playing with controller for a little while. I am glad they came out with this controller as it gives players the option to play with a traditional controller for multi platform games and of course it feels great in the hands too.

Side angle to show triggers.

Both feel great in the hands but time will tell if long periods of time with the Wii U Game Pad will be an uncomfortable experience or not. t3chniq will have many impressions on Wii U games very shortly, so keep checking back for games like Pikmin 3, Scribblenauts Unlimited and ZombiU.