CES: Nyko Breathes Life into Wii U’s Controllers
Editor’s Note: Some of you have noticed the button placement in Nyko’s stock photo appears to be incorrect. Our hands-on video shows those buttons have since shifted – and we distinctly remember B being in its typical Nintendo controller position when we were playing Black Ops II.
Third party gaming accessories are almost a taboo topic amongst some gamers. Play with a controller that’s not made by a console publisher? How absurd. Yet in the case of Nintendo’s Wii U and its GamePad and Pro controllers, key flaws have left openings for third parties – in this case, Nyko.
COMMANDING THE PRO
The most prominent (though perhaps not most popular – see below) peripheral Nyko will begin offering next month is the Pro Commander controller, an angular version of what Nintendo has offered since the Wii U launch.
The biggest difference, of course, is that the Commander’s analog sticks are staggered, making the controller even more like its Xbox 360 cousin. During a brief hands-on, the controller and its buttons felt great, including the D-pad, which truth be told was a bit surprising. Another interesting change is Nyko’s ZL/ZR buttons have more range of motion (again, more like the Xbox 360’s triggers), though that doesn’t mean developers will suddenly start supporting that greater range, since Nintendo’s official Pro triggers are digital. The result is a bit of a wash – the Commander’s ZL/ZR have a more intuitive, familiar feel to them, but that tactile advantage doesn’t really matter, since it won’t apply to actual in-game action.
The Pro Commander is wireless, supports force feedback and carries a matte finish (no more fingerprints!). Despite its more rigid appearance, the controller feels quite comfortable in the hands. Nyko is pricing the Commander a full $15 less than the Pro, with a MSRP of $34.99, though that comes with one drawback – an estimated 25 hours of life for the Commander versus 80 hours for Nintendo’s Pro.
A LONGER LASTING GAMEPAD
Perhaps the biggest complaint about Nintendo’s new, innovative GamePad controller is this – it has a relatively short battery life, particularly when taking longer, more involved games into account. With only a 3-4 hours of gameplay between charges, many players have complained that they need a solution. Good news – Nyko doesn’t just have one, it has two.
The first of these options is an external battery, one that simply clips onto the GamePad. Called the “U Boost,” this device will actually stick out a bit from the bottom of the tablet controller, yet will still rest in a cradle and comes with an adjustable built-in stand. This added battery will double the GamePad’s life to an approximated 6-8 hours. Nyko’s MSRP for the U Boost is $24.99.
The second option requires a little work on the part of the GamePad owner. You might recall that Nintendo’s provided battery didn’t even fill the entire cavity within the GamePad. Nyko decided to do just that, and this new Power Pak battery will triple the tablet’s life to an estimated 9-12 hours. Like its U Boost counterpart, the Wii U Power Pak will cost $24.99.
Nyko’s planning on shipping a variety of other Wii U accessories next month, ranging from basic GamePad cradles (called Power Stands) to Pro controller charging stations (called Charge Base Pros, which can charge up to two Pros simultaneously) to the Charge Base U, which not only refills the battery of a GamePad, but two Wii remotes as well.
Most of Nyko’s Wii U accessories, with the exception of the Pro Commander, will come in white or black, though it will be up to retailers to stock both colors. Nyko did note that since more the Deluxe (black) Wii U bundle is proving more popular, stores are ordering accessories of that color. In other words, white might be tougher to find.
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Rich is an Executive Editor of IGN.com and the leader of IGN’s Nintendo team. He also watches over all things WWE, Resident Evil, Assassin’s Creed and much more. Follow him on Twitter, if you dare!