Let’s just face it: Nintendo has completely given up on the WiiU. From now until the end of the year, the only first party game that will be released on the system is Paper Mario: Color Splash, which many fans are disappointed in already. After that, all the WiiU has left is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which will also be released on Nintendo’s next console, codenamed the NX. Hopefully, this game drought is due to Nintendo focusing on bigger and better things with the NX, and while many fans are also focusing on the new console, with rumors regarding it running rampant all over the internet, there is still no concrete information to be found. Despite the console being less than seven months away, Nintendo has kept their mouths shut. Instead of dwelling on what we know nothing about, this is a good time to take a look back in memory of the WiiU, to remember what was good about it, particularly its controller. The WiiU gamepad receives a lot of undeserved hate when in reality, it is a very good device to play video games with. Here’s why:
1. Buttons. The WiiU gamepad, for the first time in Nintendo’s home console history since the N64, has every single button, trigger, d-pad, and analog stick that any other current-gen console has, allowing the player to manage at least the same amount of tasks as a PS4 or Xbox One player can. The Gamecube controller was missing a left bumper button, and the Wii remote, even with the nunchuck, didn’t nearly have enough accessible buttons to compete with the Xbox 360 or PS3’s controllers. The gamepad, on the other hand, has everything the player needs to shoot up some zombies in Black Ops 2, or to go on a killing spree in Assassin’s Creed 3 (Other examples of 3rd party titles for WiiU would be noted, but evidence of their existence are hard to come by). This renders the WiiU’s controller at least as good if not better than those of its competitors, since there is nothing that either the Dualshock 4 or Xbox One controller can do that the gamepad can’t.
2. The Gyroscope. The WiiU gamepad has multiple unique features that make it stand out over its competitors. One of these is a built-in gyroscope that allows the player to aim by moving the gamepad. While this may sound gimmicky at first, it’s actually put to good use. Nintendo’s own Splatoon, in addition to other games, uses the gyroscope to aim. It is both faster and more precise than the usual dual-analog stick setup, and it’s the method of aiming that most closely resembles the precision of a mouse. If you’re not convinced, try to find any S rank Splatoon player that doesn’t use the gyro controls. The gyroscope’s only other competitors are pointer controls, such as the Wii remote and nunchuck, however, these do not allow for the amount of accessible buttons required for most shooters. The Dualshock 4 also has a built-in gyroscope, but it isn’t utilized nearly as much as the gamepad’s is, and the Xbox One controller doesn’t have a gyroscope at all.
3. Touch Screen and Off-TV Play. The WiiU gamepad took a page from Nintendo’s line of handhelds by having a touch screen similar to those of the DS and 3DS. This 6.2-inch screen is perfect for maps in games such as The Wind Waker HD, Watch Dogs, and Hyrule Warriors. Gone are the hard to see maps that inconveniently take up part of your TV screen on other consoles. The touch screen also serves as a good place to manage inventory without having to go through the trouble of pausing and pulling up menus. It can even be used do things like teleport to a teammate in Splatoon with a simple tap of the finger, which is something that would be rather difficult to implement with a standard controller. The touch screen’s features aren’t always minor, though. Games such as Super Mario Maker and Wario’s Gamer exhibit brand new, very fun concepts that all but require a second screen. Super Mario Maker allows players to bring their dream Mario levels to life by dragging pieces on the touch screen, and Gamer requires the player to play minigames on the bottom screen while keeping an eye out for Mom on the top screen. Features like this are a part of what makes the WiiU gamepad a unique device adaptable to many different styles of play, and they are nowhere to be found on any other home console to date due to their inferior controllers. One other cool feature about the gamepad is that it allows players to play most games without a TV, solely by looking at the gamepad’s screen. While it isn’t optimal, it certainly comes in handy when someone else is using the TV or when you just want to lounge in bed and play Smash. Finally, the gamepad even has a built-in NFC reader, which is convenient when using toys such as Amiibo.
4. Comfort. One insult that the gamepad tends to receive is that it’s ugly. However, appearance is not what matters in a game controller. What certainly does matter is comfort. The gamepad is often called chunky by those who have never used it, but play with this bad boy for an hour or two and you will realize that it’s one of the most comfortable controllers ever created. Your hands lie the perfect distance apart from each other so that they don’t get cramped. Your arms rest perfectly on your thighs for the best long-term comfort. Your thumbs are placed on both analog sticks allowing your hands to be perfectly symmetrical. Here, the right thumb can quickly and easily jump down to the face buttons and then hop back up to the analog stick, and the left thumb can even creep down to the d-pad if it wants to. The pointer fingers sit oh-so-comfortably on the left and right triggers, where they will forever stay, until they need to hit one of the easy to press bumper buttons. The other fingers reside on the back of the gamepad, where the sleek curves act as the most perfect and natural resting place for them. All ten digits, in addition to the two hands, are as comfortable as possible, and the grip of it all feels as natural as can be. The fact that the WiiU gamepad is often called “clunky and uncomfortable” is ridiculous, and it is not something that should be believed without having tried the controller for one’s self.
Ultimately, the WiiU failed in many ways. Nobody’s going to deny that. It makes sense for Nintendo to leave their failure behind in order to pave the way for a new, hopefully, great console. But despite its many flaws, the WiiU was still a fun, invigorating video game console where lots of enjoyment was had and where many great games were played, and it should never be forgotten, especially not the fantastic controller, dubbed the WiiU gamepad, on which most of those games were played.