LOS ANGELES – Nintendo had one surprise in store for us at E3 that we weren’t expecting: A new, screenless controller compatible with their upcoming console. Called the Pro Controller, Nintendo let us try it out with a few games and give our impressions. Ready? Here they come.

Wii-U-Pro-Controller1
How you’ll feel about the Wii U Pro Controller depends entirely on how you feel about the Xbox 360 controller. Even with just a quick look you can tell that the Pro controller was inspired by the 360 pad and that’s exactly what it feels like, too. The Pro Controller features an almost identical shape and even a very similar weight. There are only two main differences: the triggers (ZL and ZR) are not analog (as far as we know) and the right stick is placed above the four face buttons rather than below. The build quality is fine and the controller feels solid in the hands, with thumbs and fingers exactly where they need to be to access all the buttons. The analog sticks feel very similar to the stick currently featured on the Wii Nunchuck and provides a similar amount of grip.

Our only gripe with the controller is that the button is going to take some getting used to. After years of playing with the 360 pad, the placement of the A, B, X, Y buttons was awkward. This button placement isn’t exacly neccesary but is probably present so that Nintendo can have its own spin on the controller and, after several generations of odd controller layouts, it feels nice to have something more traditional on a Nintendo console.

The game that got the most playtime with the Pro Controller was the Wii U version of Ninja Gaiden 3. The Pro Controller feels so similar to the 360 controller that – if the display didn’t have a Wii U logo on it – Ninja Gaiden would be completely indistinguishable from the Xbox 360 version.