The Wii U Pro Controller is an interesting beast. It gets a lot of things right, but it also misses the mark in a few key areas too.
I bought one almost immediately after purchasing a Wii U back in October of 2013. Like many other owners, I was feeling rather paranoid about the GamePad breaking, so I wanted the Pro Controller to use for anything that supported it. I’ve used it for most of the games I’ve played on the console, including Super Mario 3D World, New Super Mario Bros. U, and Mario Kart 8.
Due to the fact that I did buy it almost a year ago and am only reviewing it now, I don’t have the packaging to show you. It does, however, come wrapped in protective padding inside a box, and is not simply sealed in a blister pack.
Most notable is the fact that unlike the DualShock 4 and Xbox One Wireless Controllers, the Wii U Pro Controller includes a mini USB charging cable. It might seem silly to call this out because of how cheap USB cables are, but it’s thoughtful of Nintendo to include one.
Finally, this controller streets for about $5-10 less than its competitors, so that’s another nice benefit.
That lower price is good, because if you are thinking of using this controller as a PC gamepad — which is what this review focuses on — you’ll want to spend about $15 to get the Mayflash Wireless Wii U Pro Controller to PC USB Adapter from a retailer like Amazon.
It’s a handy little adapter that only takes a minute or two to set up. Just install the drivers from the included 3″ CD-ROM (or download them from HERE), plug in the adapter, sync your controller, and you’re ready to rock and roll.
The adapter supports both DirectInput and XInput, so select whichever one is best suited for the game or application you want to use.
For most games — especially modern titles — XInput will be what you want, but there may be older applications that work better with DirectInput, so try the latter if you run into any compatibility issues.
One important thing to note is that in XInput mode (pictured above-left), the Mayflash device maps the buttons to match the Nintendo layout, so instead of XY/AB on an Xbox controller, it’s YX/BA.
I realize that this is more “Nintendo authentic”, but it’s an added hassle for those who just want to use one of these instead of standard 360 pad on a PC. DirectInput (pictured above-right) also has different mappings, so pay attention to your button assignments in your game or application in either mode. Remapping will likely be required via an additional app such as Durazno.
Getting back to the controller itself, it’s nicely shaped and fits comfortably in your hands. Size-wise, it’s similar to the Xbox One and DualShock 4 controllers. It does feel slightly lighter in terms of weight, but not as dramatically so as some outlets have reported.
I really don’t like the glossy finish, though, which is something Nintendo started implementing last generation on their Wii Remotes. Yes, they look nice, but they’re fingerprint magnets.
Impressively, however, mine hasn’t shown any signs of scuffs or scratches. The finish itself seems to be very durable, as opposed to the smooth d-pad and face button bases on the DualShock 4, which after only a week, already has light scratches.
The d-pad, analog sticks, and face buttons are all excellent and responsive. They are more or less identical to those found on the GamePad, so transitioning between the two controllers is easy. Nintendo has had a great track record when it comes to producing controllers with terrific d-pads and buttons, and the Pro Controller is no exception.
The Power and Home buttons sit slightly recessed in the center of the controller so as not to get accidentally pressed during play. The Select and Start buttons are easy to locate, similar to the Xbox One controller.
The L/R and ZL/ZR triggers also feel great, and I prefer the Z trigger placement more on this controller than the GamePad, although it is a slight bummer that Nintendo didn’t design the Z triggers as analog ones.
On the underside of the controller is the Sync button, which is located in such a way that it would be pretty difficult to accidentally press it.
Regarding the Pro Controller’s layout, I don’t really care for it. While I totally get that they did it to mirror the one found on the GamePad, they are unfortunately placed in such a way that your thumbs don’t land naturally.
On the GamePad, my thumbs land right on the analog sticks and can be easily moved to reach the d-pad and face buttons. The angles are perfect and they feel great. Honestly, I didn’t think the GamePad would be as comfortable to use as it is.
On the Pro Controller, however, while analog stick placement is perfect, my thumbs — especially my right one — have to strain to get them in optimal position to reach the d-pad and face buttons. I think the problem is that they are spread too far apart.
If Nintendo revises this controller, I’d recommend moving them in closer together and adjusting the spacing on the face button cluster. As of now, the layout feels a bit rushed.
It’s interesting comparing the Wii U Pro Controller to the one for the Wii. While the Wii version feels like a toy and annoyed me with the fact that it had to be plugged into a Wii Remote to function, it just felt more natural to use.
Again, I know Nintendo had to be consistent between the GamePad and Pro Controller, but as of now, the layout doesn’t translate that well.
In closing, I like the Wii U Pro Controller in terms of overall comfort, build quality, responsiveness, and feel, but I’m not a fan of its “different from everyone else” configuration. While this is not Nintendo’s fault, I also wish Mayflash’s default Windows button mappings were identical to those of a 360 controller. Having them flipped introduces an additional remapping step that makes this controller a solid choice for retro gamers, but not for those looking for a seamless 360 controller replacement.
And even for oldschool gaming, there are other excellent and cheaper controllers and adapters out there. While I can’t recommend this for PC gaming, I do think it’s a good controller for the Wii U that reduces wear and tear on the more expensive GamePad.
For the Wii U: B+
For the PC: C