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Wii U Pro Controller hands-on impressions

Since it was first revealed a few months ago, the Wii U Pro Controller has received its fair share of attention from both the media and fans alike. Its appearance is often compared to the Xbox 360 controller’s look, and people have been wondering how the peripheral feels. Already a few folks have expressed their disdain toward it, while others have stated that they like it. I had the chance to play a bit of Wii U using the Pro Controller at Nintendo's Wii U Experience event in Los Angeles. Is it comfortable? How exactly does it feel? Is the button placement functional? I took all of these questions into account as I tested it out for myself.

First and foremost, yes, the Pro Controller certainly feels comfortable. I played Rayman Legends with it and had absolutely no issues. Granted my demo session wasn’t terribly long, but the controller is light enough and has such a nice shape to it that I don’t imagine most gamers will experience much, if any, discomfort while playing for long periods of time. Every gamer has different tastes, but I personally thought the lightness of the Pro Controller helped make it feel even more comfortable.

Pro Controller - Wii U - 1

The Pro Controller's odd button placement is easy to get used to.

The ergonomic shape, which is definitely Xbox 360 controller-esque, is also really great. It’s a far improvement over the Wii’s original Classic Controller, and I dare say it even gives the Classic Controller Pro, which was quite comfortable in its own right, a run for its money. While the Pro Controller’s rear grips aren’t as defined as the Wii U GamePad’s, they protrude enough to provide a good grasp and some much-needed comfort. I don’t recall feeling any force feedback, which means it was either off or really minimal. If the latter’s the case, then it may be an issue for fans of rumble.

One of the design elements that has really stood out about the Pro Controller is its button and analog stick placement. While the Classic Controller and Classic Controller Pro offered conventional layouts for their buttons and analog sticks, the Wii U’s traditional controller places the dual analog sticks above the D-Pad and face buttons. As odd as it may seem to have two analog sticks placed higher on the controller, I quickly managed to get a good grasp of the design. The D-Pad feels great, as do the clickable analog sticks. The A, B, X, and Y buttons are also pleasant and smooth, though some individuals may not appreciate their slight lack of significant bounce-back. The Pro Controller also comes equipped with shoulder bumpers and triggers, all of which feel great.

Classic Controller - Wii - 1

The Pro Controller is a step above the Wii's Classic Controller.

One area worthy of some level of nitpicking is the controller’s glossy finish. While the Pro Controller may look really sexy in screenshots and videos, its shiny surface is a gathering zone for smudges and fingerprints. Sure, it’s okay if you’re just going to stare at the darn thing with a pervy look in your eyes, but ultimately, the Pro Controller is going to be used for gaming, so expect some greasy smears and plenty of wiping on your part. Remember, the original 3DS had a similar surface, and we all know how nasty those ugly fingerprints looked on that device. As nice as the glossy Pro Controller may look, maybe a matte finish would be better to ensure that it doesn’t look all gross after every play session.

Overall, I’m really digging the Wii U’s Pro Controller. It’s light and comfortable, and the analog stick and button placement, though odd at first, is highly functional. Some folks will find reasons to gripe about the controller’s face buttons, but it really is impressively designed. Unfortunately, that shiny surface is doomed to suffer from ugly smudges, and it’s hard to tell if the controller will have significantly strong vibration. Still, it’s great to see a competent, functional, and usable traditional input device already being showcased for the Wii U. The Pro Controller will be available in black and white for $49.99 when Nintendo launches the Wii U on November 18.

For a bunch of indie game and burrito talk, follow @thesanchezdavid on Twitter.

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David Sanchez David Sanchez is the most honest man on the internet. You can trust him because he speaks in the third person.
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