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An essential purchase, but slightly flawed
on 20 July 2013
The chances are that if you plan on using the Wii U's GamePad in 'only if necessary' situations, then you'll be looking to other controllers for a more traditional gaming experience. This isn't to say the the GamePad is lacklustre, but as of yet there have been few innovative ways to use the device aside from Off TV play (which itself is genius) and NintendoLand/Zombi U.
As for myself, I bought the Wii U Pro Controller with SNES Virtual Console titles in mind, and from there on I can use it when new games come along that benefit from it. I generally use a Wii Remote when playing New Super Mario Bros or NES Virtual Console titles as I prefer that minimalist feel of older controllers.
I can only echo the many positive sentiments about this Pro Controller - it is one of Nintendo's best. THE best? Probably not, but it's up there.
It is light enough to hold for long periods of time (which I've found is more comfortable than the Game Pad), but not so light that the product feels cheap or fragile. The 'D' pad is excellent as usual; I expected nothing less. Both the analogue sticks feel quite similar to those on the GamePad, while the action buttons feel solid. On the basis of Virtual Consoles games, I've found the A-B-X-Y buttons to be a little too small for my ageing thumb, but this is likely because I'm so used to the larger, flatter SNES buttons.
Contrary to others opinions, I think the gloss finish aids maintenance as you can wipe away grease very easily with a cloth, whereas stippled/textured moulds usually retain dirt. As such, grease can be swept away with real ease.
Charging is completed in around 4-hours, and since it uses a standard USB-to-mini cable, you can even plug it into a PC and give it a boost from there. It's a pity you can't just use the Game Pad's external power supply, because the Pro Controller requires any device it is plugged in to to be on (including the preferred Wii U!). The battery lasts an estimate of 80-hours, and suffice to say that I'm nowhere near even depleting mine yet.
The lack of analogue triggers is a tricky topic. The included digital versions register an On or Off signal, meaning that as soon as the trigger is pulled even minutely, the signal is On. In comparison, analogue will recognise how much the trigger is being pulled, which means that particular pressure can then be registered as a value within the game. While this effects existing games on the Wii U, it also puts plans for GameCube titles dead in the water, and somewhat alters the potential for further Wii U titles.
Never the less, a controller with this much versatility should be considered an essential part of any video game console set-up, and the ridiculously good battery life only highlights this. I'm quite suprised Nintendo chose not to include this with their 'Deluxe Pack', but the price creeping lower I believe it to be an essential purchase even for Virtual Console games. Bear in mind also that when N64 games are released, the Game Pad will be the only alternative.