Published on June 10th, 2011 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor
E3 2011: Wii U Controller Impressions
Nintendo has received mixed feedback for their latest console announcement. While some are cheering on the company that has no doubt shaped the industry that we know today, they are however coming under fire for their choice in controllers. Phrases like, “It’s going to have a 6″ screen? Good luck with that”,”It looks like a Gamegear.” The most commonly heard response on the E3 2011 show floor was, “How much is this thing going to cost?” This is especially important for this day and age, where gamers are looking to stretch their dollar, but some gaming on with frugality.
Wielding the Wii U controller gave a little insight as to what developers might be capable of with these new control scheme. The controller itself was comfortable to hold. If you were thinking that it might be too big for comfort, then you will be glad to know that the grasp and sizing were up to par for comfort levels. The swivel pads on each side were also something different, but showed many similarities to the Nintendo 3DS’s swivel pad. They are responsive and have a slight indent to house the shape of your thumbs. It was weird to see that they didn’t keep the same design, as these were really responsive in the games that have been played on my 3DS.
Something that you might not find comfortable are things like the buttons themselves. While the face of the controller hosts the many familiar buttons that we have come to see in gaming, the back is becoming more of a mystery. The upper left hand corner houses a stylus for easy access, and holds a clipped down cover for the AC charging port. There were also noticeable slots that we can infer will be used for incorporation with Wii accessories, like the zapper. While the product is still in development, we were not allowed shots of the backside of the controller.
Other comparable differences could be found in things like the shoulder buttons. They strike similarities with the buttons used for the Wii Classic Controller, but seem overly sensitive. They feel like they need more pop to them. This was the case with the ZL/ZR and the RT/LT. These buttons were housed above the would be battery bay, which looked rechargeable. It would be tough to think how the device will be running the 6.2” screen display on the front for long periods of time without such a feature.
Nintendo Official Specifications: Approximately 1.8 inches tall, 6.8 inches wide and 10.5 inches long.
The quality of the screen was surprising. Looking at an inexpensive screen from the side or at various angles may lead to the discovery in its weak design. These might be things like lines showing through the backlit display, or grainy pixels. In the case of the WiiU screen, it was hard to really see the lines from the backlit screen. It was also surprisingly light, feeling about 1 ½ lbs. and not that much heavier than an Xbox 360 controller. The picture was clean, sharp, and didn’t showcase any concerns regarding display quality.
One thing that might worry some about the display in the controller is that thus far, we only know that one controller can be used at a time. This may limit the quality that it can display, or the ability for others to jump in and play. While it is great to see the return of the Wii remote for use on this console, the sizing of the Wii remote could’ve use some tweaking. Reaching for the directional pad for some options in FPS’s always leaves room for fumbling around trying to slide the remote back its original spot. This is important especially for games like Metro Last Light which is expected to release on the console.
The controller does seem durable and able to withstand daily gameplay. The big question will be for those looking to get into a more hardcore atmosphere with its available control scheme. The weight was pleasing in that, it wasn’t too heavy for hours of play. The expected life span of the battery would probably have to be around 10 hours and looks to be rechargeable. The gyroscope and mic will only add to features that will drive developers to create new and innovative ways to play. While the product is still new, there are improvements to the button design that should prove to make it more hardcore gamer friendly, but still appease the newly introduced, moderate user. U might have to just find out for yourself.