Analysis: Nintendo Changing Wii U’s Analog “Circle Pad” Sticks?

Nintendo announced its newest home console, the Wii U, at E3 2011 and was met with positive (albeit confused) reception. But one of the more “unpopular” attributes of the Wii U was the fact it was going to utilize the new “Circle Pads” introduced by the Nintendo 3DS. While the circle pads work well for a portable, due to their responsive yet flat nature of the input it provides, it still isn’t the most practical of solutions as one may find on either a Classic Controller Pro or an Xbox 360 controller. Having played the Wii U at E3 last year, I was surprised at how light and comfortable the controller was to hold and how noticeably different the “analog sticks” were. I wouldn’t say they felt bad per say, but they wouldn’t be my first option either. Here’s a comparison of the 3DS and Wii U tablet controller:

It's a nice gesture but…

As you can see both circle pads are pretty similar sharing that same “flush/flat” design with the Wii U controller adding a little more height. Seasoned console players have scoffed at this design claiming it’s a step backwards adding less resistant analog sticks without “clickable” buttons underneath, ideal for games like first-person shooters.

We know that Nintendo has said that they are going to cater to the “core” crowd and want to win back those that have left Nintendo consoles long ago, but will core gamers be turned off by this different approach Nintendo is taking or will Nintendo actually cater to the core crowd and change their design? The good thing is that Nintendo has said the final design of the Wii U will be unveiled at E3 2012 and things can still change. To further the notion of change, Nintendo recently filed this patent featuring the Wii U controller:

You’ll notice right away that the images feature a new analog stick that is raised and not “flush” with the base. Also to note that the backside ridge that ran along the entire backside of the controller is all but gone, with the exception of its presence underneath the L and R shoulder buttons. Now take a look at the “old” patent design:


Although this is just a patent, and nothing is ever final with patents, it’s interesting to note these key yet subtle change ups can give us an idea what we may see at this E3 this year. What do you think? Do you like the circle pads on the controller or would you prefer to have more traditional analog sticks found on current HD consoles? Let us know in the comments section.