After meeting up with our good friends over at Performance Designed Products (PDP) at EB Expo, the nice folk were kind enough to bestow NovaStream with a Legend of Zelda wired fight pad for us to play around with and write about. Fellow journalists and patrons of the event may or may not have been troubled by a crazy eyed Pat rubbing his face all over the controller box (despite not knowing if he would be the one to keep/review it). None the less, as fate would have it the controller would be mine and my Zelda shrine grew slightly larger. Let’s get on with the review.
The Wii-U Fight Pad is a sturdy new offering of controller from PDP following up on their popular (and shiny) afterglow range. The controllers definitely take inspiration from the gamecube era of controllers, made popular in circles for Nintendo competitive gaming such as Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart. Though modelled on the ancestral gamecube controller and having a gamecube adapter released for the console, the controllers are more closely related to the original wii pro controllers which would plug into the bottom of a Wiimote for power and connection to the console.
While the controllers are solidly built and beautifully coloured, I will admit I was a little sad that this controller was a wired controller, and that it required a Wiimote to function. As it is, it marries well to Nintendo’s character themed Wiimotes of recent days and ensures backwards compatibility to the original nintendo Wii (and not just the Wii-U to which it was branded). However in the modern day I have grown accustomed to a wireless controller and find comfort in the freedom it brings. And given that the Wii-U Pro Controller is wireless and one of my favourite controllers to use, not only does the technology exist to make this a wireless controller, it seems less likely for me to take the Zelda fight pad out of my display.
Also while modelled after the fan favourite gamecube controller, there are a lot of nuanced differences between the two that become more apparent with prolonged use. The most notable was the size of the controller, which is slightly larger than its gamecube alter-ego. This for me was great as it sat comfortably in my large hands but I could see those with younger or more feminine hands having issues with the size. Secondly, the secondary anologue stick has been made to be uniform with the primary one, meaning that competitive gamers used to the old yellow c-stick nub will have to learn to work with a raised stick (which I think would be more noticeable if you have spent a lot of time with a gamecube controller in your hand). Finally the shoulder buttons are definitely more clicky than the squishy one’s that it was based off.
While a lot of these are small issues, they are only really issues if you have spent a lot of time playing a gamecube, either in general or competitively. I may have fallen into a bit of a biased comparison between the two but if I take a step back and look at it as a controller with no ties to my nintendo past, It’s a great controller. It’s solid and sturdy and seems like it could take a bashing from children and after hours of Mario Kart and Smash Bros., the controller did not waver in it’s performance. The controller responded quite well, with only occassional split second hiccups (which is an issue in all original wii pro controllers and is caused by the Wiimote signal). And if you aren’t as crazy a Zelda fan as me, PDP have been kind enough to release a wide range of themed fight pads, drawing colour schemes from different Smash Bros. characters.
In summation, the Wii-U Fight Pad from PDP is a great controller and one of my favourite offerings from a third party developer to date. While I would have liked the controller to be wireless and gamecube players may take issues with the slight difference to their beloved controller, on the whole I think this is a controller that most players would be happy to own.