The Wii has had its fair share of accessories since its launch. If you browse the virtual shelves on the Internet you’ll most likely come across tennis rackets, baseball bats, zappers and steering wheels; but surprisingly there are hardly any third-party Classic controllers available to the Wii gamer.
As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, and it is Snakebyte who plans to add some diversity with their Wireless Retro Controller for Nintendo’s Wii console. It’s clear that the main competition for Snakebyte’s Wireless Retro Controller is Nintendo’s official offering. The problem facing the official pad is with its oversized Super Nintendo form factor. Unless you have hands like ET, it just isn’t comfortable for the average gamer, who are today used to the comfort of an Xbox or PlayStation controller. Thankfully this has been addressed with the Wireless Retro Controller, which has more thickness to it and thus making the pad a pleasure to grasp. Ironically the pad resembles a similar form factor to Super Nintendo’s rival at the time – the SEGA Mega Drive. The pad’s edges are much thicker than the 80’s console controller which makes holding it around the edges much more comfortable.
The buttons on the controller features the same layout found on the official pad, though it’s a disappointment that the materials used feel and look slightly on the cheap side. The materials used on the controller is a mix of matt and shiny white plastic, while the face buttons feature slightly smaller solid plastic buttons, which is poor when compared to the larger, more solid, and aesthetically pleasing clear plastic buttons that are present on the official pad.
If you have not realised from the title, this controller is wireless. There are no cables to get in the way here, you just simply plug in the receiver into the base of the Wiimote and insert two AA batteries into the bottom of the controller. At first I had difficulty in connecting the controller to the receiver, and with no instructions or manuals at all in the box I had to use my initiative. After trying many batteries (which were not included), mashing and holding down buttons (including its own sync button) I thought the device was faulty. The flashing LED on both the receiver and controller continued to flash, which (without a manual) I could only interpret that they were still undetected. A few minutes later, it wasn’t until I removed and replaced the receiver back into the Wiimote (while the controller was trying to sync) was I then able to make a connection and the LED on both devices stayed lit. YAY!
With the controller now connected, I could place the Wiimote anywhere in the room and leave the 2.4GHz wireless technology to do its thing, without any worry about interference or signal loss over long distances. Like the official controller, there are slots underneath to attach the Wiimote to the underside of the controller. Sadly though the device to attach the Wiimote does not come in the box, but why you’d want to do this anyway with a wireless controller I have no idea.
Connected and powered up you’ll find the Snakebyte Wireless Retro Controller to be responsive as you would expect it to be, both in navigating the menus and during fierce Virtual Console gaming. I fired up my test title of choice – StreetFighter 2 Turbo on Virtual Console to test out its speed. A game like SF2 Turbo needs responsive buttons and the Wireless Retro Controller delivered in this aspect very well, while also being a pleasure to hold. Each button is easy to reach, while the D-Pad sits itself high enough to pull off any challenging dragon punch.
Overall, the Snakebyte Wireless Retro Controller is worth looking into if you’re after a wireless alternative to Nintendo’s Official Classic controller. The pad is solidly built and is much more comfortable to hold than the official pad. Sadly this controller is let down by its cheap looking materials, its lack of included batteries and no connection guide/instructions. Also, retailing at a RRP of £29.99 it is a cost that you seriously need to think twice about before purchasing. Costing £10 more than the wired version you need to ask yourself – are you playing Wii titles that regularly to require such a controller, and a wireless one at that? Not having the controller physically attached to the pad is certainly a bonus to me, and is probably worth the extra investment. With competitive prices online you may find the Wireless Retro Controller at a price matching its rival, and if that is the case then the Snakebyte Wireless Retro Controller is worth your consideration over the wired alternative.