Best Wii U Controllers

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

20 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
350 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best Wii U controllers

Last Updated November 2019

There are tons of excellent video games on Nintendo’s Wii U console, ranging from a relaxed Animal Crossing experience to white-knuckle Pokémon battles, and so much more to enjoy online or with your pals in the living room. But with so many controllers compatible with the Wii U, how do you select the best one for your gaming setup, or which controller you’ll absolutely need to purchase to enjoy your favorite games?

We at BestReviews have put all of the above Wii U controllers to the test, and after many hours we can safely tell you what you need to know when it comes to buying the best Wii U controllers available. When you’re ready to buy, take a look at our top recommendations, too.

Some Wii U games require the extra precision that the Wii Remote Plus provides, meaning you’ll have to upgrade your old Wii Remotes to play certain titles.

Key considerations

Responsiveness

When it comes to playing Wii U games that rely on motion controls, you can’t beat the accuracy of the Wii Remote Plus controller, but the original Wii Remote will certainly do in a pinch. For action-packed Wii U titles, the delay-free input of a Pro controller is the go-to control scheme of many dedicated players. With that said, some third-party Wii Pro controllers may have loud, “clacky” buttons, more sensitive control sticks, or a complete lack of gyroscopic controls, so read the online reviews before you buy.

Comfort

Nintendo’s controllers are known for their comfortable and ergonomic designs, and the extensive family of Wii U controllers is no different. Third-party controller manufacturers tend to lean toward mimicking the shape of Nintendo’s official controllers where it counts, so only a really cheap controller will leave your wrists, hands, and fingers aching after a marathon gaming session.

Durability

Nintendo knows that kids will get their hands on their video game consoles, and the Wii U’s controllers are just as durable as you’d expect them to be. On the other hand, the sturdiness of third-party Wii U controllers can vary by the hardware and brand producing the device, so, once again, do yourself a favor by reading through the online reviews.

Note that if you or someone in your household is especially rough on the controllers, there’s an assortment of hard plastic, silicone, and padded Wii U controller covers available for purchase online that can protect your gaming investment.

Immersive action

Nintendo’s official Wii Remote Plus controller is compatible with every Wii U and original Wii game, features precise motion controls, and is available in an array of stylish colors. Not only can the Wii Remote Plus be used to play a massive range of games but its increased level of sensitivity to a player’s movement also does wonders for immersing you into their games.

Wii U controller features

Naturally, the most important feature of any Wii U controller is whether the device can effectively and comfortably help you to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser’s castle and onward through every adventure that you take with your Wii U. Official Wii U controllers are designed to work perfectly with the console, and third-party controllers were made to emulate Nintendo’s design as closely as possible, so there aren’t many features that are exclusive to different controllers. With that said, two worthwhile features to look for are compatibility and color.

Compatibility: Unless you’re on a mission to get the most out of one or two especially exciting games, you’ll want to invest in controllers that are compatible with most of the Wii U library.

Color: Why settle for the commonly offered black and white accessories when Wii U controllers are available in so many fun styles and vivid colors? Some of the Wii Remotes are even designed around famous Nintendo superstars like Yoshi, Luigi, Bowser, Mario, Peach, and Toad!

EXPERT TIP

Since the Wii U GamePad is included with the console, expect to find that most Wii U games are compatible with this innovative controller. Replacement GamePads are fairly expensive, but you’ll never need more than one. There isn’t a single game in the entire Wii U library that uses more than one GamePad at a time.


Staff  | BestReviews

Wii U controller prices

The average price for Wii U controllers is relatively high if you want to stock up on official controllers from Nintendo. If you don’t mind settling for third-party Pro controllers and controller accessories, the cost drops significantly.

Many Wii Remote Plus controllers are sold online for around $40 to $45 each, and it’s sad to see that the official Wii U Pro controller has become so rare that sellers are asking for obscenely high prices for the ergonomic, old-school device. On the other hand, you can snag a decent third-party Pro controller that works almost as well for around $20, so don’t feel like you have to pay big bucks to get your hands on the original Wii U Pro controller.

If for some reason the GamePad included with your Wii U breaks, expect to pay over $100 for a replacement. 

DID YOU KNOW?

Dedicated old-school fighting game fans can buy a Nintendo GameCube controller adapter to enjoy Super Smash Bros. using classic Super Smash Bros. Melee controls with up to four players. Unfortunately, Super Smash Bros. is the only Wii U game compatible with the GameCube controller!

Tips

  • Learn how each Wii U controller is powered before you make a purchase. Some controllers include a power cable or an internal rechargeable battery, but others require AA batteries right out of the box.
  • Keep some spares handy. Many popular Wii U games that place a heavy emphasis on multiplayer are compatible with the Wii Remote or Wii Remote Plus, so it’s worth keeping a few extra lying around just in case anyone wants to join in!
  • Read the game box. Always read the back of a Wii U game’s box to learn which Wii U controllers are necessary to play it before you buy. A Wii U game might require any combination of the GamePad, Wii Remote Plus, Pro controller, and other controllers.
  • Upgrade if you can. Although the original Wii Remote works just fine with most of your Wii U games, the vastly improved level of precision built into the newer Wii Remote Plus is well worth the upgrade. If you play motion-based Wii or Wii U games with both controllers, you can definitely feel a huge difference between the two.

Blast from the past

If the official Wii U Pro controller is out of your price range, the Afterglow Pro controller will certainly get the job done. Since this device requires a pair of AA batteries, a Wii U Pro controller charger would be a sound investment after buying this controller. As an added bonus, the see-through aesthetic and blue LED lights might remind players of Nintendo’s own “PLAY IT LOUD!” campaign from the mid 1990’s!

Other products we considered

If you combine a Wii Remote or Wii Remote Plus with a Nunchuk Controller, you’ll have a special controller combination that can handle 3D gameplay and motion controls at the same time. Official Nintendo Wii Nunchuks are an affordable and widely available add-on, and it’s easy to find the device in a color that matches the Wii Remotes in your collection. Note that only certain Wii U games support the Nunchuk accessory. Wii U owners who like to download classic games from the Nintendo 64, NES, Game Boy Advance, and Super Nintendo Entertainment System via the Virtual Console should consider giving the NEXiLUX Wireless 3 Pro Controller Gamepad a chance. The NEXiLUX sports a long-lasting rechargeable internal battery, tight and responsive control sticks, and a charming SNES-themed design that is sure to please retro gamers.

Of course, you’ll need at least one Wii Remote to play original Wii games on the Wii U, but you might also need additional accessories like the Wii Nunchuk or Wii Classic controller to enjoy certain original Wii titles.

FAQ

Q. Can I use any Wii U controller to play any Wii U game?
A.
No. There are many types of Wii U controllers, and different genres of gameplay require different kinds of controllers. For instance, if you want to play Super Mario 3D World, you’ll need a Wii U GamePad, Wii Remote and Classic controller combo, Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuk controller combo, or a Pro controller. A list of compatible controllers is clearly listed on the back of every Wii U game case.

Q. Which types of controllers should I buy for my Wii U?
A.
The good news is that a GamePad is included with every new Wii U, but outside of that, it depends on the kinds of games that you enjoy. If you play more action-oriented titles, like Donkey Kong, Mario, and Smash Bros., a Pro controller might be a great idea, but if you enjoy motion-based gaming and original Wii titles, we highly recommend the Wii Remote Plus.

Don’t forget to buy additional controllers so you’ll be prepared when friends, family, and guests come over to play!

Q. Do I need a Wii U Pro controller?
A.
No, but a Wii U Pro controller is the best way to get that “traditional” controller sensation while you’re playing, and many players prefer its smaller and lighter feel as opposed to the chunkier Wii U GamePad. Note that the Pro controller isn’t compatible with every Wii U game, especially those that place a heavy emphasis on motion controls.

Keep in mind that a third-party controller modeled after the official Wii U Pro controller will not be compatible with original Wii software. This includes Wii game discs and downloadable Wii software.

The team that worked on this review
  • Arnold
    Arnold
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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