Supposedly leaked by a TT Games (the makers of the LEGO games including the upcoming LEGO City Stories exclusive for the Wii U) employee, the Internet now has what may well be the first image of the final retail version of the Wii U controller. As with the leaked 3DS dev kit board that we analyzed to great acclaim almost precisely two years ago, this single image has a ton of information that may be gleaned from it. Read on for an in-depth analysis of what’s changed and what that tells us if this image is indeed genuine.
Above you can see an image of how the Wii U controller appeared when it was first revealed at E3 2011.
What’s changed since E3 2011:
- The circle pads have been changed out for proper analog sticks and moved outward to be at an angle to the d-pad and ABXY buttons, conforming to the placement conventions of essentially every other video game controller in the past 10+ years.
- To fit the angular spatial relation between the analog sticks and buttons, it appears that the Wii U controller may likely have been widened even further.
- The Start and Select buttons have been moved from their essentially unreachable position at the bottom of the middle of the screen to a more convenient (but still fairly distant) spot beneath the ABXY buttons.
- The Power button and Battery light have let a button get between them which is likely to be the Sync button for pairing the Wii U controller to the system.
- The microphone has been moved to the other side of the Home button
- The Home button now has what appears to be a light-up ring around it reminiscent to the ring on Xbox 360 controllers.
- A new button (?) or rounded square-like-thing has appeared below the d-pad adding a layer of intrigue to the updated controller.
What we can learn from the image:
- The Wii U emblazoned on the controller suggests that the rumoured (and in many cases longed for) name change for the Wii U will not be taking place after all.
- The replacement of the circle pads with analog sticks gives credence to the rumours that the Wii U controller will feature clickable sticks in a similar vein to the PS3 and Xbox 360 controllers.
- The analog sticks on the new Wii U controller do not have the octagonal guides on them as featured in the Wii Nunchuk and Classic Controllers, but instead have a smooth enclosure like the ones on Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers.
- The likely lit ring around the Home button leaves room for hoping that the Wii U will be able to handle more than one new controller at once. It could also possibly be used as a notification light similar to the ones featured in the Wii and 3DS systems.
- The widening of the controller’s profile means that only about a third (if that) of the touchscreen will be within moderately easy thumb reach while clasping the controller with both hands.
- The mystery square below the d-pad could be any of a number of things. Some possibilities include: a guide area for the placement of NFC objects, a touch-sensitive “mouse” area to use as a pointing device for the screen to make up for the widened controller size, an extra button (as the square resembles the one on the Home button on iDevices), and a Vitality Sensor-like pulse oximeter like Nintendo ceased developing for the Wii.
- The AC plugin at the top of the controller looks the same as the ones used for the DSi and 3DS systems.
Things to ponder:
- Recent rumours have been talking about a green and white design for the final Wii U system. The plug at the top of the controller is both green and white, giving some credence to those rumours. It is more likely, though, that the white/green colour scheme will be exclusive to the Wii U dev kits, much like it was for the Wii.
- The Wii U controller design shown in the new image is essentially the same as the one depicted in newer Wii U patent filings from Nintendo.
- Not only does this mean that the leaked image is unlikely to be fake, it also serves to confirm a few other aspects of the redesigned Wii U controller including more curvaceous and ergonomic grips, a more squat and elongated profile, and stylus placement on the right instead of the left as shown below:
- Also, it is important to note that our mystery square on the leaked Wii U controller image does not appear in the patent images. This could mean a number of things, but the most likely in my opinion is that the mystery square is certainly not a button or Vitality Senor (as it would be shown on the patent images in that case), but is instead something more like the suggested NFC guide decal to show people where to best place their NFC-enabled items.
- On a side note, if you’re wondering why the Wii U controller camera has that big black bar around it, another couple Wii U patent images basically solve that mystery too:
- 55A and 55B in the patent are labelled as “one or more infrared LEDs”, essentially confirming that the Wii U controller can act as a sensor bar so that Wiimotes can be used to interact directly with it.
So, that’s a ton of new information to take in, brought on largely by the leaked image but also coming from Nintendo’s own freely available patents. With many of the complaints gamers potentially had about the Wii U and its controller(s) largely dealt with through this controller design finalization, it’s going to be a very interesting E3 indeed. We’ll have hands-on impressions of the Wii U and its new controller after our booth tour on June 6th, as well as any of the information Nintendo reveals live from their press conference on the 4th, so stick with us for the absolute latest Wii U news as it breaks.