In their Pre-E3 Nintendo Direct presentation, Nintendo not only revealed the final product design of the official Wii U controller, but they also unveiled a more traditional “Pro Controller” that will be compatible with the system.
The analog stick placement and button layout match that of the main tablet controller (minus the touchscreen, of course). The controller obviously has a similar look to that of the 360 controller, but there are some minor differences. For one thing, it has the traditional Nintendo d-pad as opposed to Microsoft’s disk-style d-pad, and the analog sticks don’t have the same indent as the 360 gamepad.
Obviously, the addition of a more traditional controller for the Wii U is an interesting move for Nintendo, and one worth analyzing a bit closer.
I’d say the best news is that this could solve any potential problems the Wii U could have with multiplatform titles. It’s no secret that the Wii left Nintendo in a bit of a bind when it came to third-party developers, and while the tablet controller is more accessible for multiplatform developers than the Wiimote was, there was certainly no guarantee that developers would want to work the tablet technology into games they’ve already designed. The Pro Controller gives those developers a more traditional and more direct design to work with, and Nintendo doesn’t necessarily have to compete with Sony and Microsoft with as much of a handicap.
The controller could also be a very good thing for players, as well, and not just because you can now have more than two people playing a game without having to turn to Wiimotes.
I’ve made it no secret in the past that I remain unconvinced by motion controls, which the Wii was certainly leading the charge for. Despite the system’s best efforts, I feel that if this generation of consoles have proven anything it’s that they’re functional at best, but nowhere near the most efficient way to play a game most of the time. I remain hopeful that the technology and the implementation of it will continue to improve, though, and I’m keeping an open mind about the Wii U tablet design.
But one of my biggest complaints with the Wii was that not every game actually needed motion controls at all, and not every Wii U game is going to need that touchscreen. Now you won’t necessarily have to pick up the whole tablet or navigate some motion control interface when you’re playing something that only should require a familiar controller. Once again, developers can use what type of controller works with the type of game they’re making, and, ideally, that will mean less games that have features that feel tacked on just to justify the platform.
With that being said, the controller is only as good of an idea as how Nintendo chooses to use it, and there are a couple of questions in that area.
Primarily, I wonder if Nintendo is even the best judge for which features will feel tacked on and which won’t. While it was the first party titles that carried the Wii over the years, almost all of them demonstrated some sort of stubborn use of motion control that, as I said before, seemed to only be present to justify the hardware rather than provide an actually superior experience.
If Nintendo’s focus on hardware innovation distracts them from demonstrating to other developers that the Pro Controller is just as viable of an option to make quality games on the console as the other inputs available, then the controller could potentially end up being just another launch accessory that players won’t really feel the need for, which the Wii already had plenty of.
I don’t think that will be the case, though. This controller is more thought out and serves a stronger function than the common accessory but, like I said, it really all depends on the execution of it. You also have to consider factors like what the Wii U has under the hood, what Sony and Microsoft are working on for the next machines, and what games in the near future will require of a system.
As things stand now, though, I can’t help but be a little more optimistic for the Wii U with this news. Controller versatility is just a small step, but it is starting to seem like Nintendo is trying to cover all their bases with the Wii U. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects the launch as well as the lifespan of the console.Posted in Game News by Ben Matlock on June 4, 2012