What Game Controllers Do I Need for the Wii U?

Wii Remote, Nunchuk, Wii U Pro Controller and More

Nintendo WiiU
Splatoon Single Player Game Mode for 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

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.

While, in theory, the Wii U will support two gamepads, so far no game has come out that uses two. You can’t even buy a second gamepad right now.

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 for the most part. 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 demand it, a couple of Nintendo Land mini-games require it, and there are likely to be other games in the future that will assume you have one.

Wii Nunchuk
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It’s also a good idea to have a nunchuk—the device that attaches to the Wii remote and is used for two-handed play.

The remote/nunchuk combo is used for some Wii U games (it will be the recommended way to play Pikmin 3) and is a common control system for Wii games.

Wii U Pro Controller

The Pro Controller is for people who want a more conventional controller similar to those for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It is smaller and lighter than the gamepad and the battery lasts far longer (80hours as opposed to five).

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 bother buying one.

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 conventional 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.

Wii GameCube
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For many hardcore Super Smash Bros. Melee fans, the GameCube controller is considered the SSB controller. So when Nintendo released the game, they also released an adapter that would let you play the game with a GameCube controller.

It is the only game you can use that controller for, but if you play enough SSB, and you're that fond of the old controller layout, you can use this device.


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