It’s nearly two weeks ago that we had the chance to experience the Wii U first-hand at E3 and since we’ve returned from the show we’ve been bombarded with questions as to how the controller feels in your hands and if it actually interacts well with the games that were on offer.
We’re sure that you would all have seen the new look Wii U controller by now. The two big changes comes in the form of analogue sticks replacing the analogue sliders (as used on the 3DS) and the bottom of the controller has an extended mould that fits snugly in the palm of your hands. There’s a few things we picked up right off the bat – no, not the cricket bat in Zombi U. The face buttons (X,Y,A,B) are situated below the right analogue stick. Though this might not seem like anything you should be concerned about it’s rather confusing. We found ourselves more often than not steering our thumbs in an upwards motion or to the right to press buttons like you would with a 360 or PS3 controller. Stretching your thumb downwards towards the face buttons and back up to its resting place on the analogue stick feels weird. It will definitely take time to get used to that element.
The D-Pad and Face buttons are exact replications of what you would have experienced if you’ve used the Classic controller for the Wii. The shoulders buttons on the back is exactly what it says – buttons. They’re not analogue triggers. Think of the shoulder buttons on the PS2 controller. Something else that will initially take some getting-used-to is that your hands are fairly far apart when holding the controller. This means that when your thumb needs to access the touch screen you really have to stretch your hand to reach certain areas. We found that we often held the controller with one hand while touching away on the screen. For those who would not like to smudge the screen there is a stylus attached which is exactly the same size of the stylus that came packaged with the DSi XL. What we found to be a complete joy is how the screen assists players when it comes to managing your inventory on the fly. Changing between a Cricket bat and a crossbow in Zombie U was achieved by a simple tap on the screen. Some might say that pressing left or right on the D-pad is quicker, but when you have a quick tap to select between ten different weapons we’d disagree.
The one surprising factor was the weight of the tablet controller. It’s much lighter than you’d imagine, being just a little heavier than the PS Vita. We experienced gyroscope support when playing Zombi U, which worked a charm when aiming the Wii U tablet controller towards the television set. Though it feels similar to the one used on both the PS Vita and 3DS the bigger screen allows for your initial lack of accuracy to be corrected.
We also had a go at the Wii U Pro Controller. It really does feel like the Xbox 360 controller in your hands, which by all accounts bodes well for hardcore gamers. It comes with the same concerns as the Wii U Tablet controller whereby the face buttons are featured below the right analogue stick, but again it’s just something you’ll have to adjust to over time. Like the PS3 controller the battery unit is built into the Pro controller and makes use of a USB charger. Unfortunately the shoulder buttons again come without any analogue triggers, which is a shame. It’s the one piece of hardware that needs more precision. The fact that there is a traditional controller available is definitely a fantastic move by the Big N. We needed something more substantial when playing online multiplayer games or titles that require extensive interaction.
So, Nintendo are entering a new era where they’re offering players three different means of controlling their games: Wii U Controller (Tablet), Wii Remote and Nunchuck controller (Motion) and Pro Controller (Traditional). If there’s one thing you can’t deny then it’s that Nintendo are trying their utmost to please gamers no matter how hardcore or casual you might be. We now just need them to announce an F-Zero here and a Legend of Zelda there and a few new hardcore IP’s and they might re-establish a seal of approval with their hardcore audience. For a change.