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As well as acquiring a number of new games for Christmas, I also got my hands on a classic controller for the Wii. This handy little accessory is essentially the controller that went with Nintendo's last generation console, the Gamecube. For a better gaming experience, the classic controller can be used with any Gamecube disks you might have (as these are compatible with the Wii), as well as any titles you might download from the Wiiware service. Some new Wii games also support them, giving you the option of using the controller you feel most comfortable with.
If you buy the official controller from Nintendo, it is, inevitably, quite expensive - around £15. If, like me, you're a bit of a cheapskate, UK high street store Game also produce an unofficial one that retails for around half that. But, but is it a case of you get what you pay for?
For existing Gamecube enthusiasts, this unofficial alternative closely mimics the shape and layout of the official controller so you will feel comfortable with it immediately. If you're new to the device, it's still pretty easy to use, as the key buttons are different colours and so easy to identify, which helps you become familiar with the controls very quickly.
The main difference is that the Gameware controller is a lot chunkier than the official one. Made of white moulded plastic, it looks and feels a bit cheap and plasticky. It also doesn't sit in the hand quite as comfortably - the two hand grips at the base of the unit in particular feel awkward to hold and during longer sessions, you may find your wrists start to ache - a problem I never experienced on the Gamecube. It's not unusable, but it can take a little while to adjust to the slightly increased size.
It's a similar story in terms of responsiveness. The two joysticks are fine, with just the right amount of "travel" (how long it takes to move into position). This makes it very easy to move characters around on screen and react quickly to in-game threats. The D-Pad is another story and feels distinctly wobbly; the whole thing moving around alarmingly whenever you press a direction. For me, this is not an issue as I never use it, but if you prefer the D-Pad to the joysticks, it might be a concern.
The buttons are also a little stiff and unresponsive at first, requiring a little more force than you might expect, although you soon adapt to this. They also make some slightly alarming cracking noises (particularly the shoulder buttons), although they do seem quite robust.
The buttons are also slightly too close together when compared with the official version. This is only by a matter of millimetres, but it's surprising what a difference this makes. When you're in the midst of a frenzied gaming session, it's frustrating to hit what you think is one button and die, because you have accidentally pressed a different one. Any gamer will know this can be a matter of life and death!
As noted above, although the controller does look and feel a little cheap, it is actually fairly robust. On the old Gamecube, I managed to break the joystick on several controllers (both official and unofficial versions), but so far this has stood up to everything I've thrown at it to date (including several sessions on Super Smash Brothers - the game that was the Waterloo for many of the previous controllers). It's also already survived several visits to the floor when I have become frustrated with my lack of gaming prowess. I'm sure bits will break eventually, but when you consider you can buy two of these for the price of one official controller, I'm not too worried by this.
Unlike the Wii remote, this is a wired controller, so you will need to plug it into your console. The lead is also not that long, limiting where you can sit whilst you play games. On the plus side it doesn't need any batteries, so there's a slight saving there (although you do still need your normal Wiimote to access the standard Wii menu system).
If you're not familiar with your Wii are hidden, setting up this accessory might be a challenge, as the instructions are completely useless. All they say is "consult the game you want to use the controller with." Gee, thanks! If you don't know where the ports for the Gamecube controllers are on your Wii, then you will definitely need to consult your Wii manual.
Finally, there are a few compatibility issues. This controller should work with Gamecube games (whether physical or downloaded) as well as Wii games which support the classic controller. It's this last area where I have experienced problems with a number of games refusing to recognise it. A Boy and His Blob, , for example, should be compatible, but it resolutely refuses to recognise the existence of the controller, since it is expecting something plugged into the bottom of the Wiimote (which is how the official version operates), rather than something plugged directly into the console. In fact, at first, I thought my controller must be broken because I tried it with two supposedly compatible games that just didn't recognise it. When it comes to Wii games (rather than Gamecube ones) it seems to be a little hit and miss over when it will work, so if there's a game you're particularly keen to use it with, it might be worth checking out compatibility first.
Although there are a few compatibility issues and minor problems with the sensitivity and layout of the buttons, this is a nice sturdy controller that works fine on Gamecube games and many (but not all) supported Wii games. At around half the price of the official controller, this is a reasonable buy - providing it works with the games you want to use it for
© Copyright SWSt 2011