What Game Controllers Do I Need for the Wii U?

Wii Remote, Nunchuk, Wii U Pro Controller and More

Nintendo WiiU
Keri Wilmot

The Wii U supports a variety of game controllers, some of which are necessary in certain circumstances and some of which are just nice to have. To see what controllers a particular Wii U game supports, look on the back of the game’s jewel case; a black bar will contain icons representing each supported controller.

Wii U Gamepad

Wii U Gamepad
 Amazon

The primary Wii U controller is the gamepad, a unique controller with a touchscreen and a camera in it. It comes with the Wii U, and any single-player game you buy should be playable with it.

Wii Remote and Wii Remote Plus

Wii Remote Plus

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You can play most Wii U games with the gamepad, but sooner or later you’re going to want a Wii Remote, the wand-like device that was the primary controller for the Wii.

Wii Remotes are especially important for local multiplayer games. "Nintendo Land," for example, requires a remote for each friend you’re playing with. Games like "Just Dance 4" rely on the remote. You also need these to play Wii games on the backwards-compatible Wii U.

A standard Wii remote will work for the majority of games you play, and if you already have an old one it will be fine in most cases. But, if you’re going to buy a remote, you should purchase the Wii Remote Plus, the improved version of the remote Nintendo released in 2010.

There are a handful of Wii games that require the Wii Remote Plus. A couple of "Nintendo Land" mini-games require it, and newer games that came out after its release assume you have one.

Wii Nunchuk

Wii Nunchuk

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Having a Wii Nunchuk is needed for certain games—the device that attaches to the Wii remote and is used for two-handed play. The Wii Remote Plus and Wii Nunchuk combo is used for some Wii U games (it is the recommended way to play "Pikmin 3") and is a common control system for Wii games.

Wii U Pro Controller

Wii U Pro Controller
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The Wii U Pro Controller is for people who want a more conventional controller similar to those for the Xbox and PlayStation console systems. It is smaller and lighter than the gamepad, and the battery lasts far longer (80 hours as opposed to 5 hours).

Some games don't support the Pro Controller—some because the gamepad is essential to the gameplay, others because the developers just didn’t bother to build in support for it. Make sure you have a game that supports it before you go out and buy one.

Wii Classic Controller and Wii Classic Controller Pro

Wii Classic Controller

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As with the Wii U Pro Controller for the Wii U, Nintendo also offered a more conventional controller for the Wii, first the minimalist Wii Classic Controller and later the Wii Classic Controller Pro, which comes closer to a standard console style controller design. You’ll only need one of these if you want to use a conventional controller while playing Wii games. "Xenoblade Chronicles" uses it, for example, but it’s supported by a good number of games.

GameCube Controller

Wii GameCube

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For many hardcore "Super Smash Bros. Melee" fans, the GameCube controller is considered the best and only controller for playing "Super Smash Bros." So when Nintendo released SSB, they also released an adapter that would let you play the game with a GameCube controller. If you're fond of the old controller layout, you can use this device

SSB GameCube Controller Limits

"Super Smash Bros." is the only game for which you can use the GameCube controller.