Hands-on with Datel's Wireless Retro Controller

Going wireless

The Classic Controller is a great peripheral, modelled on the humble SNES controller of yesteryear with two analogue sticks and a few extra buttons thrown in for good measure to support N64 games - it is all you need to enjoy most of the retro games on the Virtual Console.

The only downside is that it isn’t completely wireless. Sure it is wireless in the sense you don’t have to plug it directly into the Wii, but having to plug it into a Wii Remote and having all the cable hanging around is far from ideal.

Nyko sell a controller grip which tethers together the Wii Remote with the Classic Controller and allows you to wrap the cord neatly too, but let’s face it this looks ridiculous!

If you want to go truly wireless then you are going to want something like Datel’s Wireless Retro Controller which can be bought at Argos for £14.99 in the UK. It acts like a Wii Remote and a Classic Controller rolled into one so you don’t have any cords or restrictions.

Datel have copied the design of the Classic Controller almost completely. It is practically identical and has surprisingly good build quality. The only differences are the addition of a power button placed neatly underneath the ‘home’ button and some black moulded grips stuck onto the back on the controller.

The controller takes 2 AAA batteries. At the time of writing we haven’t used it extensively so we cannot say how long they will last. You sync the controller to your Wii with a little button on the back on the controller, just like you would a Wii Remote. That’s it, now you’re ready to go!

For those who are familiar with the Classic Controller you will know that you can use the analogue stick to move the cursor on the Wii menu if you are too lazy to point with the Wii Remote. That’s a big help because you won’t be using a Wii Remote with this right? Well not quite, while you can select a VC game using the analogue stick it seems that many of the games simply do not show the cursor when the menu screen pops up upon starting a game (assuming you have a suspension point save).

Most of the VC games released in the first year of the service have this problem such as Super Mario Bros, Super Mario World, Contra III, F-Zero, Soldier Blade and a few others which we tried.

Games released more recently such as Mega Man II, DoReMi Fantasy, Gate of Thunder, Super Mario Bros 3, Shinobi III, Super Metroid and Toki Tori (WiiWare) do work OK though, the cursor appears as it should on the home menu and can be controlled with the analogue stick.

It kinds of defeats the point of the controller as the only way to close the menu is to power up a Wii Remote! Who knows why this problem occurs with certain games and not others, but it is a bit of a disappointment.

As stated previously, the Retro Wireless does have surprisingly good build quality. It is slightly bigger than the Classic Controller but you probably won’t be able to tell the difference in practice. It is amazing how Datel were able to copy the looks of the Classic Controller with no fear of copyright violations. The black rubbery grips on the back of the controller do seem a bit unnecessary however and will make your fingers smell of rubber after using it for a while. We never found the Classic Controller uncomfortable or particularly slippery, but if you did then these grips might be a welcome addition for you.

In the different games we playtested this with we can report that it does the job just as well as the Classic Controller. The buttons are just as responsive and there is no sense of lag. The D-pad however is not raised quite as high as in the Classic Controller, this did cause some problems when trying to quickly double-tap to dash in Shinobi III as the second press did not always register. When playing a frantic shoot-em-up such as Soldier Blade this wasn’t a problem however.

If this sounds like your cup of tea then you can head on down to Argos and pick one up for the princely sum of £14.99 (order code: 568/8379). After all if you don’t like it you can return it for a quibble-free refund within 30 days, just go easy on that blister packaging! We have no idea if this controller will be sold outside the UK, but Datel’s website might be a good place to ask that question if you are dying to get your hands on one of these.