News Article

First Impressions: Classic Controller Pro

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

We go thumbs-on to determine whether it's for pros or schmoes

Launched in Japan alongside Monster Hunter 3 Tri and the Dark World Wii, the Classic Controller Pro is Nintendo's attempt at righting the wrongs of its original old-school pad. The good news is, it largely does. The bad news? It's got a few quirks of its own.

We snagged a shiny black one: so shiny, in fact, that our first thought went from "ooh, pretty" to "ooh, fingerprints" as soon as we liberated it from its box. The back of the controller is matted, but the glossy front is prone to visible smudges; a small price to pay for pretty gadgets. Another nice touch is the new placement of the cord that connects to the Wiimote; now that it’s on the top of the pad, strange wire placement in your lap is no longer an issue. Wireless would've been ideal, but alas, Nintendo is big on tethering their accessories this gen.

Also notable on the back is the new lack of expandable hook slots. Originally intended to allow things like handles or a Wiimote to be attached, that functionality has been rendered moot now that handles are part of the actual unit. The slots were never put to much good use anyway, so no real loss there. Gone also is the little button in the center on top that would open the slots, which turned out to be one of the most useless buttons in game controller history.

Once in hand, it's hard to imagine the reason why handles were omitted in the first incarnation since grip comfort is so greatly improved with them. Yes, the original controller was intended primarily for Virtual Console games, made apparent by it's design similarities to the SNES pad. It seems almost silly that ergonomics were sacrificed for aesthetics, especially since games that benefit the most from using the Classic (like Muramasa or many Virtual Console titles) can cause hand cramps during prolonged sessions. Well, not any more. The Pro is infinitely more pleasing to hold, which is the single best reason to upgrade.

The thumbsticks have been spaced out a bit too, making them more comfortable to use than the cramped original. Titles heavy on analog control, like Geometry Wars Galaxies, benefit the most as now your thumbs won't collide during particularly twiddly sessions. The handles also lower your grip on the controller, so the sticks feel more conveniently placed despite being in essentially the same spot as before.

Shoulder buttons L and R have gone from squishy to clicky, now feeling much more responsive. On the original model these buttons were large and in charge, cramming the two Z buttons into two nubbins that were awkward to use. The Pro solves this problem by adding a second layer of shoulder buttons, giving LZ and RZ much more breathing room; they're actually larger than L and R, similar to Sony's Sixaxis controller.

Now this may be a small quibble based on personal preference, but L and R seem to be harder to reach based on how I hold the pad: I typically have my trigger fingers on the shoulders, with my three other digits gripping the handles. Since the buttons have been resized, the Zs have gotten so large as to make it trickier to comfortably rest my fingers on the more often used L and R buttons. This problem isn't so big if keep my pointer on the top row and my middle finger on the bottom one, but then the controller doesn't feel as comfortable to me this way. Obviously if a game doesn't rely heavily on the shoulder buttons then there's no issue, but ones like Super Metroid can get awkward. As I said, this is more of a personal complaint, but it's one that may be a potential problem for a certain subset of people.

Likewise, the sticks still just don't feel as good as the Gamecube pad's. There are no noticeable changes to them since the vanilla Classic, but for some reason they don't feel as sturdy. If you have no qualms with the quality of the sticks on the old model then you'll have no problems here, but it's worth thinking about if you're weighing Wavebird retirement.

There's certainly plenty of improvement here to warrant an upgrade if you bust out a Classic regularly; with the addition of handles and a spacier layout, it's probably the best traditional pad designed for Wii. Of course, since there's no release date in sight for Western markets, you'll have to hunt it down at an import shop for the time being. There are plenty of options online that'll run you (including shipping) probably twice the amount of the non-pro model you can get down the street, and imported controllers work fine on a domestic Wii without a problem. If you play a lot of VC games and think the Pro is totally bad, importing could be a good choice.

The Pro will certainly make its way overseas at some point, so keep those peepers on Nintendo Life for any updates.

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User Comments (82)



Corbs said:

Just doesn't appeal to me. I have the Super Famicom classic controller and the white Gamecube controller so I think I'll stick with those.



MetalMario said:

I think I'll get one. The current one IS kind of small, and I want to try this one out.



warioswoods said:

Huh. I've never had a problem with the current Classic Controller, so I doubt I'll pick this up, but it's an interesting option.



JonWahlgren said:

Sorry about the picture quality folks, my camera is terrible. I found it at an IHOP actually. Hooray!

Well, boo for the person that lost it, but yay me!



irken004 said:

This is looking great, but what will we do with the old CC's

And I prefer white



Odnetnin said:

Lol, Panda, and thanks for the review of sorts. I don't have a Classic Controller yet; now I definitely won't get one until the Pro launches.



JonWahlgren said:

Yeah, there's a white one, but I had to go for black. Of course, now it's the only thing that doesn't fit my gaming color scheme for this gen.



dizzy_boy said:

there is a white pro availalable too. but i think that the black one looks better.
also, if you go to, they have those white official gamecube controllers, and they are deffinitly worth the extra few pennies to get imported, as there`s no way you`ll get to see those released outside of japan, ever.



orlick said:

The CC is junk, a dual shock wannabe - the worst controller Nintendo has ever made - why are tha analogs put on the bootom of the controller? - they could just as well be on the underside of it then - out of harms way?



Noire said:

I love my old-school Classic Controller to death. I grew up on Super Nintendo, so it just feels right without the handles, so no upgrades for me.



Toddr said:

Where it says "Another nice touch is the new placement of the cord that connects to the Wiimote; not that it’s on the top of the pad", shouldn't it be now, instead of not?



BL_Donth said:

Just fix the shoulder button/triggers and I'm importing it. I had to buy one to play Super Mario World because the GC controller sucks for SMW.
EDIT: @Panda the quality of the pic is fine. No worries



SwerdMurd said:

Nintendo pulled a Sony.....on Sony....I guess that's fitting, but still, nothing will ever come within a mile of the PS3s untouchable perfection. TBH the Nyko controller/Classic Controller pack still has a nicer pad imo.

Also, am I the only one seeing a clear centimeter-plus increase in distance between the two analog sticks, despite the article stating they're in "essentially the same place"? In controller-analog-distance, they couldn't be in much different a location (compared to prior model) unless they were set on different tiers a-la Gamecube controller (biggest design flaw of it imo).



JonWahlgren said:

@Swerd_Murd: I mention how the sticks are further apart, and when I said they were essentially in the same place I was referring to where they are on the controller's Y axis, if you know what I mean. They haven't been raised or lowered, just pushed apart.



BulbasaurusRex said:

I'm never getting a Classic Controller until they can play GameCube games. Until then (probably never), I'll stick with my GameCube Controllers.



grenworthshero said:

I agree. I love the SNES controller, and the CC feels right, too. I use the Gamecube controller for N64 VC games, and all the games that don't feel right with the CC.



motang said:

Ah I will be first in line to get me one of these, when it is released here in the states!



jbrodack said:

Looks nice but I already quite like the original classic controller. Only thing missing is rumble but that also seems to be missing from this one too.



Tails said:

i'll love this controller if it ever comes out it will be mine ^^!



Chungii_V said:

Looks better than the one out now. Hmmmmm another Wii add-on controller = more dollars out of my pocket: Nintendo you will bleed me dry.



Omega said:

I bought the Classic Controller because it so closely resembles the SNES pad. It just feels right to me, especially for those SNES games on the VC. I'm not sure if I want a PS2-Controller for the VC, I think not.



Reala said:

Looks good, but why does Nintendo continue with the same old D-pad design, its terrible for SF type games, Sega had it sorted with the Megadrive and Saturn, so why can't Nintendo and Sony get it right now.



Sean_Aaron said:

I'm curious as to whether the d-pad is as usable -- looks like it should be, but I'm used to grip-less play when playing digital-interface games.

The main reason I want this is the shoulder buttons, but making the Z buttons the big ones makes absolutely no sense to me at all -- surely any games which use shoulder buttons are primarily using the L and R buttons and therefore they should be the bigger ones? Not to mention the fact that when Z buttons do get used in Virtual Console Arcade it's only for insert coin -- ah well at least in Namco games like Assault (which uses R for fire) you can freely remap all the buttons.

The analogue buttons on the Gamecube and Classic I just hate so at least those will be gone. I'm happy to wait for an eventual EU release; otherwise I'll pick one up when I'm in Japan next year.



Guybrush_Threepwood said:

The controller looks nice but is rather pointless for me. I don't understand why Nintendo not included rumble again (especially concerning VC Nintendo 64 games)!



Metang said:

Will definitely pick this up when it hits the US. (Yes, WHEN it comes to the US. I'm pretty sure it will once Classic Controller sales start slumping.)



Devil_Hunter_Dante said:

I might get it as a 2nd one. I got the original b/c the cube controller just does not work well with some older games (tiny D Pad). But I got the original classic controller this summer and slapped on the Nyko grip accessory and now I am fine.



tovare said:

Although I use the classic controller quite a bit,first on my wish-list is an arcade stick like the Hori fighting stick.



Kawaiipikachu said:

Great review nice looking product but there's one thing as you not going to swing this thing around why does it needs to be wireless.



HeikeKagero said:

Are they going to stop making the original controller for this? I like the original design much more



Klapaucius said:

"If you have no qualms with the quality of the sticks on the old model then you'll have no problems here, but it's worth thinking about if you're weighing Wavebird retirement."
I didn't think the Wavebird could be used on the Wii?



Pj1 said:

No way! leave e bay alone! buy from it's cheaper...

What a good review from the guys at Nintendo life, it's true you do get finger marks on it after about 5 minutes but it's nice to handle and the lead being where it is is much better. No need to say any thing else.



JonWahlgren said:

@Klapaucius: The Wavebird is just a Gamecube controller; most Wii games that support a CC also support the GC pad. You can't use the CC for GC games though.



King_Elemento said:

Always preferred handleless controllers myself, but I can definitely see the appeal of this controller. May get one if they ever appear in Europe.



The_Ink_Pit_Ox said:

I use the CC only for SNES/Genesis games, so I don't need this. The grips are a plus, but I prefer the nostalgic feel of a flatbottom controller.



laskecap said:

will get two of white version of this things later
going to save my money for ps3 slim lol



naut said:

I like the "sameness" that the original one has to the SNES controller. And I have a GCN controller for N64 games. So I really have no reason for this. Looks cool though.



anthonyb said:

Well, I suppose it's time to sell both of the old classic controllers on ebay. I never used them, unless I really had to (SNES VC games).



madgear said:

I'd get one if they worked with GameCube games. As it stands, I'd much rather use the same controller for both GameCube games and VC titles - I know the GameCube Controller isn't perfect for all VC games but I can get used to it. I'd love a classic controller that'd do both, though.



MarkyVigoroth said:

Two words for Sony fans: "Uh oh!"

...anyways, I feel sad that the back clips were not used for anything. (I would have looked forward to a Rumble Pack for some VC games...)



Spencer said:

I think I'll Buy a couple Retroport Adapters instead so I can hook up My
Genesis SNES and NES controllers to My Wii



Jolted85 said:

so if ninty decides to bring the pro overseas (havn't heard if they will yet); and they discontinue the old style controller, will that make them rare a few years down the road (if that ever happens)?



togovero said:

I'd prefer if the word "bad" was linked to a crappy game instead, like Nes' Volleyball



Ristar42 said:

It looks pretty cool, shiny! I much prefer the gamecube controller for N64 stuff at the moment, use a Hori SNES style Gamecube pad for 2D, or the current classic controller if the button layout doesnt fit. I also managed to pick up a SNES Wii controller the other day but now dont want to take it out of the box... Might get this one too!



Kid_A said:

I have a classic controller and several GC controllers. Never had any quibbles with any of them, so I don't see the need to upgrade. That being said the controller itself looks pretty sick (albeit a bit too similar to the PS3 controller)



The_Ink_Pit_Ox said:

As I've been saying before:

NES: remote
SMS: remote
TG16: remote
SNES: classic controller
Genesis: classic controller
N64: Gamecube controller

I'm good.



Ski_Deuce said:

This controller does not solve any problems that the original incarnation had with playing VC games.



Hoofbites said:

Ugh, I hate the "glossy casing" fad in product design nowadays. At least Apple was smart enough to ditch that for the newer iPod Classics (if only on the front side).



BlueFlameBat said:

I wish they'd get rid of the analog function of the Classic Controller's L and R buttons since I don't know of any games that actually utilize them and simply tapping them wasn't enough unless you were playing a Naruto game.



WaveGhoul said:

My only problem with the Original Classic Controller were the Squishy L and R buttons, which felt akward to use for Snes VC Games. The Classic Controller 'Pro' on the other hand has Clicky R and L buttons which i want. But it's too bad it has those PlayStation like handles...Since i prefer Retro styled Controllers(The Wii Remote on its side is my favorite!) BUT, since it has those handles, i wont be dropping the cash ;(

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