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Nintendo Wii Classic Controller

Complete Score: 27.5 / 42 = 65.5%

When the Wii was released originally in September of 2006, all of the attention from media and fans was focused on the much hyped Remote/Nun chuck setup. The wireless motion sensing setup overshadowed the Wii Classic Controller released on the same day as launch.

When I first picked up the Wii Classic Controller, I felt a rush of nostalgia that made me feel like I was 10 years old again. It feels almost exactly like the classic SNES controller where I busted many a friend with my Ryu skills in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, put in marathon sessions of arguably the greatest RPG ever made in Chrono Trigger, and uncovered every square inch of Zebes in Super Metroid.

But is nostalgia enough? Does the Wii Classic Controller stand up in the face of over a decade of controller innovation from other game hardware manufacturers? Well, yes and no.

Value

At $20, the Classic Controller is far cheaper than the $40 and $50 you will be spending for a Xbox 360 and PS3 controller respectively. The controller plugs into the Wii Remote to make it wireless. Because it doesn’t run off of the power of the Wii, expect to go through many sets of AA batteries or spend a little more for rechargeable batteries.

The Classic Controller is meant to be played with the hundreds of titles on the Wii’s Virtual Console and with select Wii games like Super Smash Bros. Since it can’t be used with all Wii games and the fact that you will have to spend money for AA batteries, the value of the controller is simply average.

Score: 3 / 5

Quality

The Classic Controller is a well made controller, simply put. It has a smooth white finish that matches the look and style of the Wii system. It has eight game play buttons, d-pad, and dual analog sticks. Also, it has start, select, and home buttons that mimic the style of the Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers. The number of buttons is perfect for the Virtual Console because of the range of titles available for the service. The titles range from the early days of the NES and Turbografx-16 up to the N64, which the Classic Controller handles almost to perfection.

The front of the controller
The front of the controller

The controller is durable as well. The controller worked like a charm after playing multiple sessions of Contra and Ninja Gaiden II, two games which have caused the destruction of thousand of controllers over the years. I threw the controller against a carpeted ground five times and against a sheet rock wall twice with no ill effects to the controller. Also, I used the controller with Super Smash Bros. The Classic Controller makes it easier to pull off combos than the Wii Remote/Nun chuck setup, which forces players to move the controller in the air a certain way to perform moves. The fighting style of the game is much more conducive to inputting commands with the multiple face buttons of the Classic Controller.

The major problem that holds back the Classic Controller is the actual design itself. After about an hour, the palms of my hands began to ache and my thumbs were cramping up. The dual analog sticks are too close together on the controller, causing the user to put their thumbs in an awkward position. The evolution of ergonomic controllers for other systems has left much to be desired with the Classic Controller.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Innovation

There really isn’t much innovation with the Classic Controller. It borrows heavily from the design of the SNES controller, as previously stated. Also, the addition of dual analog sticks and wireless play borrow from the evolution of controllers instituted by all three major console hardware manufacturers. While it might not be innovative, it gives owners of the Wii a great alternative for playing classic games without the use of the limited buttons on the Wii Remote. Because of the fact that it helps players enjoy classic games with a better controller than previously available at the time, the Classic Controller receives an average score in the Innovation category.

Score: 2.5 / 5

Social Benefit

In terms of the world of video games, the Classic Controller, in conjunction with Virtual Console, gives the average gamer access to a world of games that many of them have never played before. In order to understand the current state of the video game industry, one must look at the evolution of games and game play over the years. Playing classic games such as Super Mario Bros., Super Metroid, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Super Mario 64 can help gamers and designers see what made games so fun to play in the first place. If we can learn from the game design of all these classic video games, maybe someone will be able to make a game that stands out from the slew of yearly minimally updated sports games and the multitude of sequels that plague the current industry.

When thinking about the grand scheme of things, the fact that this controller, in conjunction with the Wii Remote, goes through so many batteries is a bad thing for the environment. I know that most people, including myself, usually toss batteries into the trash without a second thought about the hazardous material that we are contributing to trash dumps all over the world.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Freestyle!

As a serious player of classic and retro games, the Classic Controller is the best option currently available for the Wii. It is much better suited for the Virtual Console than any other controller setup for the Wii. However, I can’t give it a higher score only because the use of the controller is limited. Once more Wii games become compatible with the Classic Controller, then maybe the true potential of this small controller can be fully unlocked.

Score: 15 / 22

The Nintendo Wii Classic Controller is available at Amazon.com. (Note, Amazon.com is our affiliate).

Complete Score: 27.5 / 42 = 65.5%