Nintendo Wii U Pro controller review: Hands-on

Will this give the Wii U hardcore gaming appeal?

What is a hands on review?
Image 1 of 11 Nintendo Wii U Pro controller
Nintendo Wii U Pro controller
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Nintendo Wii U Pro controller
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Nintendo Wii U Pro controller
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Nintendo Wii U Pro controller
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Nintendo Wii U Pro controller
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Nintendo Wii U Pro controller
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Nintendo Wii U Pro controller
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Nintendo Wii U Pro controller
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Nintendo Wii U Pro controller
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Nintendo Wii U Pro controller
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Nintendo Wii U Pro controller

Snuck into the announcement that the Wii U controller will be officially known as the Wii U GamePad, Nintendo has declared its intentions to win over gamers not interested in playing Wii Sports or more re-hashed Mario games, by unveilng the Wii U Pro controller at E3 2012.

Set to offer a more traditional gaming experience in contrast to the tablet-packing GamePad, we got some hands-on time with the Wii U peripheral that looks very familiar.

Nintendo Wii U Pro controller: Build and design

Instantly the Wii U Pro controller strikes up more than a passing resemblance to the Xbox 360 controller in terms of looks and the way it sits snug when held in two hands.

It also sports a similarly black finish but will be available in white as well. As you can see from our pictures, the extra gloss does mean it's a haven for fingerprints. The battery is hidden inside the controller, so lacks the bulky nature that the battery casing gives the Xbox 360 controller.

As with our time with the GamePad, the Pro is surprisingly very light which should make it ideal for prolonged gaming sessions.

Nintendo Wii U Pro controller: Features

We spent some time using the Wii U controller playing Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, one of the third party titles primed for the Wii U, a game Nintendo worked with TECMO KOEI to re-make the Ninja Gaiden 3 game that received criticism for being too easy and too much of a button-bashing fest.

In terms of layout, you'll notice that there are two analogue sticks with the right analogue below the X,B,Y,A. Opposite is the D-Pad while the power button sits between the D-Pad and face buttons. The Select, Home and Start buttons sit just below the Wii U logo and battery indicator.

There are shoulder buttons and trigger buttons that sit enclosed inside the controller's body while a mini-USB port can be found on the front edge of the device as your means of charging.

We also know that the Pro controller will be wireless, but with a set of screws protecting the battery we are unsure how much life we can expect to get from the controller on a single charge.

Nintendo Wii U Pro controller: Verdict

In terms of comfort, we can't fault the Wii U Pro controller. It essentially offers a similiar experience to Sony and Microsoft's official controllers, but doesn't feel as heavy, but it is marginal on that front. We love the ZL and ZR triggers which are more tucked away and makes the Pro ergonomic and combine nicely with the analogue sticks.

Our issues come with regards to the positioning of the face buttons which are extremely low in comparison to the PS3 and Xbox 360 controllers and in our time with a fighting game like Ninja Gaiden III Razor's Edge it felt difficult to perform button combinations without scrambling our fingers around the pad.

It's clear what Nintendo aims to do with the Pro controller and while it might feel like something of a minor adjustment to move the buttons and the right analogue stick, it is certainly going to take some getting used to. Will it convince owners of the current home consoles to defect to the Wii U? The controller will play some part, but it will surely be the console and the games that come with it that will be the decisive factors. We look forward to getting our mitts on a full review model.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.

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