You do not understand anything in the plethora of controllers and other controllers offered by Nintendo for the Wii U – even more numerous than on the Wii where it was already becoming complicated? Here is an attempt at clarification.
Of the three next-gen consoles, the Wii U is indeed the one that offers the widest choice of controllers. On the one hand, it leaves freedom of choice to the players, who can choose what they prefer (according to what the games allow).
But it also means more confusion, more risk of not having the right equipment to play this or that game, and overall a better chance of it getting a little expensive, these stories – especially if we start to wonder question of multiplayer – crucial for family video games. On PS3/PS4 and Xbox 360/One, it’s simple: you buy one controller per player, end of discussion. But on Wii U?
Wii U gamepad, Pro Wii U controller, Pro Wii controller, Classic Wii gamepad, Wiimote and Nunchuk, Gamecube controller and finally 3DS… Super Smash Bros. will be playable with all this. Other Wii U games are compatible with multiple controllers. It offers flexibility, of course, but you can get lost. Most current Wii U packs are sold without a controller, apart from the famous GamePad with its touch screen. What controllers should I buy to accompany the console and be able to play multiplayer?
Let’s first take a quick look at the different means of control offered.
The GamePad Wii U
It’s a big controller, equipped with a touch screen, and some functions of a Wiimote for motion detection. It allows you to play most single-player games. In multiplayer, it can either be used like any other controller, or offer the player who uses it a different gameplay and therefore a distinct role from that of other players
Accused of having sealed the sales of the Wii U (by increasing its selling price), the GamePad arouses varied reactions. The main criticism made of it is actually related to the games rather than the equipment: too few games use the very particular gameplay that the GamePad allows.
Nintendo uses it more or less depending on the game: Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros. hardly use it, but future big releases like Splatoon or Captain Toad should use it.
Perfect for letting one child play Mario while another watches a movie!
The Wiimote Plus and the Nunchuk
Wiimote Plus Vs. Wiimote: what’s the difference? Both versions of the Wiimote are interchangeable,
both are compatible with Wii and Wii U, and work with the same games. The difference is in the accuracy of motion detection, better with the Wiimote Plus. To simplify, I therefore speak in the following of Wiimote, period.
The Wiimote offers several possibilities of play. It detects the movements and the position of the player compared to the sensor posed close to the screen. Held horizontally with two hands, with the directional cross on the left and the 1 and 2 buttons on the right, it emulates a joypad. The other hand can then hold the Nunchuk, used by some games. The Nunchuk adds 2 buttons and an analog stick, absent from the Wiimote. The Nunchuk alone is unusable: it plugs into the Wiimote, which provides communication with the console.
Some games only use the Wiimote, others use the Wiimote + Nunchuk duo as an option, and finally some can only work with the Wiimote if it is accompanied by a Nunchuk…
Apart from the Wii U Basic + Wii Party U + Nintendoland pack, no Wii U pack contains a Wiimote ( Mario Kart 8 , Zelda , New Super Mario etc. packs only contain the Gamepad).
- Nunchuk price: between 15 and 20€ (available in white and black )
- Price of the Wiimote Plus: between 40 and 50€ (available in white , black , red , pink , blue , Mario red , Luigi green , Peach pink , Yoshi green and white , etc.)
- Price of the Wiimote Plus + Nunchuk pack: between €50 and €60 (this pack also contains a Sensor Bar, already included in all Wii U packs except the Basic Packs)
- Tip #1: a Wiimote Plus pack with the Wii Party U game is available at a very fluctuating price, which sometimes goes down to 35 to 40€ (especially on Amazon) – cheaper than the Wiimote alone, with an extra game!
- Good plan #2: given the huge quantities of Wii that have been sold, especially to compulsive buyers who are ultimately uninterested, it is easy to find used tons of Wiimotes and Nunchuks. Pay attention to the condition (it may be old equipment, the Wii was released in 2006), to the brand (prefer official Nintendo equipment, second-hand – copies are not expensive new so the risk of taking the ‘occaz is useless) and the presence or not of the Wii Motion Plus (not essential, but the value of a Wiimote is not that of a Wiimote Plus).
The Pro Wii U joystick
This is what comes closest to the controllers of the Playstation or the Xbox: a controller corresponding to current standards, quite imposing, with lots of buttons everywhere, two directional sticks and a cross.
But it is also, for players accustomed to classic controllers, the least disruptive and most effective controller for certain exclusive Nintendo games, such as Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros or Mario games. The GamePad can do everything a Pro Controller does, but is bigger and heavier, and drains faster.
- some Wii U games are not compatible with the Pro Controller.
- You can find a complete list here: List of Wii U games that use the Wii U Pro Controller (this list also indicates the games compatible with the Wii Pro Controller).
- Wii games (which all work on the Wii U) are not compatible with the Pro Wii U controller
Unlike the Pro Wii and Classic Wii controllers (see below), the Pro Wii U controller is a true standalone controller: there is no need to connect it to a Wiimote for it to work.
- Price of the Pro Wii U controller: between 40 and 50€
The Classic Pro Wii and Classic Wii controllers
These two gamepads date from the Wii. The first is a kind of light version of the Pro Wii U controller: we find the 2 analog sticks, the buttons… On the other hand, it connects to a Wiimote, and does not work without it. In other words, owning a Classic Pro Wii controller does not give you an additional player option. The Classic Wii controller, on the other hand, is an old-fashioned controller, quite compact, with however 2 analogue sticks; it is particularly suitable for retro-gaming (via the Wii U virtual console), but also for current games. Like the Classic Pro, it connects to a Wiimote and does not work alone.
- Price of the Classic Pro Wii controller: around €30
- Price of the Classic Wii controller: around 20€
The GameCube controller
You can quickly switch to this controller, since on Wii U, only one game is compatible: Super Smash Bros. This requires an adapter (sold with the game or separately). The adapter allows you to connect 4 GameCube controllers to the console.
After a misunderstanding, Nintendo has officially clarified that this adapter and GameCube controllers will only work with Super Smash Bros. A bit of a shame since these controllers are quite close (in number of buttons) to the Pro and Classic Pro controllers, so we don’t really see what would be a problem for using them in Mario Kart or other games.
All this is all the more surprising since Nintendo has relaunched the manufacture of GameCube controllers, 7 years after the end of production of the GameCube, and in particular with very nice Mario or Yoshi editions… All that for a single and unique game (including it will sell entire pallets, that’s obvious, but all the same…).
In some games, the Wii U exploits the connectivity of the 3DS, and allows it to be used as an additional controller. This is the case in Super Smash Bros. However, this is still quite rare at the moment.
How many controllers for how many players?
. But this may vary depending on the game, some not supporting Pro controllers, others not working with Wiimotes without Nunchuk.
Advice on the combination of controllers according to your game projects
- To play alone : the GamePad supplied with the console is sufficient for almost all solo games, even if it is not always the most suitable depending on the type of game. Be careful, in some games based on the specificities of the Wiimote , the GamePad cannot be used.
- To play three : the question that arises is to choose between a 2nd Wiimote and a Pro Wii U controller. If you mainly play motion detection games, the 2nd Wiimote is the best choice. If, on the other hand, you also plan to play games with classic gameplay and multi-console ports, having a Pro Wii U controller can be a good idea:
- it will allow a 3rd player in games like Mario Kart, Super Mario 3D World or Smash Bros Brawl, and can also be used solo for a player who prefers this type of controller closer to current standards on other consoles.
- To play with four : the question is a bit the same as to go from 2 to 3. Is it more for motion detection games (in this case: Wiimote) or classic games (in this case: Pro Wii controller U)?
What about unofficial Wii and Wii U controllers?
Many manufacturers sell Wiimotes, Nunchuks and other unofficial Wii U controllers. The cost price is much lower (from 2 to 10 times cheaper), but the quality is obviously not the same. Users generally report being happy with the hardware for its price, but report occasional console compatibility/recognition issues, buttons that are sometimes less comfortable to use, etc.
This option can be interesting for very occasional use of the console, or tight budgets, or the need for a lot of equipment to play many different types of games with a lot of people.
The quality depends on the manufacturers, so the only advice we can give is to read the opinions, for example on Amazon, on the copy offered by this or that manufacturer, before buying.
How many controllers for main games?
- Wii Party U: playable with 4, but requires 4 Wiimotes (in addition to the GamePad) because some mini-games do not use the GamePad
- NintendoLand: it’s all about the minigames; the number of players varies from 1 (GamePad only) to 5 (GamePad + 4 Wiimotes)
- Super Mario 3D World: playable at 4 with the GamePad + 3 Wiimotes
- Rayman Legends: playable alone (GamePad or Wiimote) or two (Gamepad + Wiimote)
- Mario Kart 8: playable with 4, with the GamePad, Wiimotes with or without Nunchuck, Pro and Classic controllers
- Super Smash Bros. : playable with 8, with almost all possible combinations of controllers
To find out the compatibility of each game with the different controllers, you can refer to the back of the game box, where pictograms represent the compatible controllers. Or, more simply, the game’s presentation page on the official Nintendo website , where these informative icons can also be found.
Here. Not sure it’s much easier to make choices, because it’s the situation itself that’s problematic: Wii U games don’t all work with all available controllers, so no combination (except owning everything in 4 copies …) will only allow all games to be played with their maximum number of players.
This is the limit of this overly diversified ecosystem that Nintendo has set up: paradoxically, while Nintendo is supposed to be in the niche of video games for everyone, its system is the most complex to understand because of the variety offered.
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