Feature | Tech Up! – InterWORKS Wii U Controller Pro U Review

By Shane Jury 23.05.2014 1

As a California-based distributor of electronic accessories since 2008, InterWORKS has acted as a waypoint for many oddball gadgets and gizmos, including electric lighters, waterproof phone cases, and even pro-energy towels for use in extreme climates. Gaming-wise, the options are a little more limited, with only headphones, a PlayStation 3 Racing-orientated controller, and the Wii U Controller Pro U Pad to its name. For this instalment of Tech Up!, the team puts the Nintendo accessory through its paces. How does it compare to the Big N's acclaimed assortment of pads, though?
Image for Feature | Tech Up! - InterWORKS Wii U Controller Pro U Review

First of all, a disclaimer: the glossy fingerprint-magnet of the front and the relatively comfortable matte feel of the back, plus the button and stick layout, as well as the deceptive packaging, may shout out one particular thing to Wii U owners. For clarification purposes, however, this is NOT a Third Party Wii U Pro Controller, of which this very site reviewed favourably. Nope, what is here instead is a unique hybrid of a Wii Remote Plus and a Wii Classic Controller all in one pad. 

As such, the InterWORKS pad can only be recognised as a Wii Remote Plus or a Wii Classic Controller at any one time, negating its use for any Wii U software that only supports the official Wii U Pro Controller as a GamePad alternative. Whilst that is initially a major bummer for future-proofing in anything beyond Virtual Console releases, the past six years of Wii Software is laid wide open with the Wii U's backwards compatibility feature.

Image for Feature | Tech Up! - InterWORKS Wii U Controller Pro U Review

Since the introduction of the GameCube's Wavebird Controller, Nintendo fans have been able to enjoy wireless gaming on their consoles - with a slight exception. The Wii Remote is indeed wireless, until having to connect a Nunchuk for expanded options or a Classic Controller for more conventional play, that is. The InterWORKS Pad negates pesky wires and provides a nifty solution to getting Wii Mode games up and running as quickly as possible. For games that support solo sideways Wii Remote control, this pad is also vastly more comfortable and easier to handle. Donkey Kong Country Returns is a particular highlight (though shaking to roll is still required, unfortunately). The button assignments do take time to adjust to when using it this way, though.

Whether to complement the Super Nintendo Controller-themed layout of the D-Pad and buttons or merely there as backups, the eagle-eyed among readers will spot the duplicate Select and Start at the bottom that serve the same purpose and function of the main Minus and Plus variants. The analogue sticks follow the Wii U standard positioning in what is quickly becoming a fan favourite mapping scheme, and the twin speaker holes give more force (but not more quality) to the Wii Remote sounds. Dual shoulder buttons and triggers line up nicely, sticking with a digital click and not an analogue one, and the Power and Home buttons sit ready for use in the middle of the controller. The window on the top houses the pointer control, a feature many will appreciate from the days of the Wii Channels interface.

Image for Feature | Tech Up! - InterWORKS Wii U Controller Pro U Review

On the back there are two toggles - the left one switches between sideways Remote control, and a forward-facing method with button assignments adjusted accordingly for each. The right one toggles either a Wii Remote function or a Wii Classic Controller connected to a Wii Remote, depending on the need. The sync button is self-explanatory and the reset button will come in handy as the controller annoyingly tends to lose connection when switching to Wii Mode. Using either toggle switch is relatively quick and without hassle and gives the Pad a great deal of flexibility on either side of the Wii U's library. Actually using the pad, however, is a different story...

As a menu navigator, the InterWORKS Pro U rivals the Wii Remote for sheer simplicity, with its matching pointer function, and brings to mind the missed potential of including such a feature on any of the current-generation console controllers. For the nitty-gritty of actual gameplay, however, there is a stark difference.

Be it from crooked calibration or an onboard conflict with the pointer function, the InterWORKS controller's main analogue stick is a fiddly beast. Moving left and right work fine, but up and down seems to create an almost-magnetic effect when letting go of the stick; not too bad for something like Mario Kart 64's drifting, but spelling potential havoc when in games that demand movement accuracy, as in Super Mario 64. The D-Pad fares only slightly better, keeping in line with the best of Nintendo's controllers, but requiring a little more force to push in and sometimes veering off diagonally with a slight twitch. These oddities can be adjusted to with practice but are unfortunate to witness.

Image for Feature | Tech Up! - InterWORKS Wii U Controller Pro U Review

The diamond buttons, like their originators on the Super Nintendo's controller, are spaced further apart than the GamePad or the Pro Pad ones. Unlike the original, though, the X and A keys are harder to push together because of the right analogue stick. Again, with practice, this can be overcome. What can't be excused, though, is the cheap and flimsy feel of the shoulder buttons and triggers, each leaving so little force feedback as to be akin to digital buttons on a smartphone. They generally do work as demanded, but the reaction on screen will be the only sign of it.

The InterWORKS pad houses one more oddity and this is yet another hint that the controller was to have more functionality at one point - clickable sticks. Due to the defined controller support, this feature is essentially useless, but for Classic Controller-supported games they have been given the same functions as the A and B buttons, making for a very interesting challenge in playing through basic games without ever pressing a button. [p]The pad charges up in the exact same way as a Pro Controller does, via rechargeable USB, making for a cost-effective alternative to the Wii Remote in both purchase price and battery savings. Unlike the insane battery life of its design inspiration, though, this unit reaches approximately six or so hours, beating out the GamePad's default charge, but not by much.

Image for Feature | Tech Up! - InterWORKS Wii U Controller Pro U Review

[score=6]Although the InterWORKS controller is far from the best choice for a Wii Classic Controller variant, it does win out for versatility and convenience, and presents a welcome change in Third Party options that implement not-so-standard functions. It has a great many quirks and a shameful number of anomalies, but a cheap entry price and a vast amount of supporting software from Nintendo's history makes a strong case for it. Hopefully a later revision will set right this controller's wrongs, or Nintendo will allow the Pro Controller to be used in Wii Mode; whichever comes first.

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Hmm, I wonder if many people would still feel there's a need for this...?

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
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