November 28, 2011

Hori Classic Controller Review

*NOTE* I have repurposed this review from a now defunct website. If it looks familiar, you're not crazy.

I don't buy a lot of third party accessories for my gaming systems. Though cheaper, it's usually a better investment to go with the first party stuff because it's more likely to last. Regardless, there were a lot of choices back when controllers were wired. Nowadays, Microsoft has a monopoly on wireless controllers and Sony doesn't allow for Bluetooth compatible ones, meaning you need a USB dongle. Nintendo doesn't give a crap, which is why I've only bought third party stuff for Nintendo systems this generation. What I buy, mostly, are controllers. I had a few PS2, Xbox, and GameCube controllers back in the day that weren't very solid. I haven't bought a third-party controller since. Well, until recently.

I got two Nintendo classic controllers back when I bought my Wii in 2006. I hated them. Sure, the d-pad was large and comfortable, but everything else was just terrible for me. It had no handles, the analog sticks were close together, the face buttons were spaced too far apart, the z buttons were hard to reach. It was a mess. Unfortunately, it was also the only option at the time. There were a few third party offerings in the years following, but none of them really stood out to me. Last year, Nintendo finally brought their redesigned Classic Controller Plus to North America. At this point, I had already purchased a couple of Nyko grips for my old Classics (I payed only a few dollars for them at Circuit City) which was an adequate solution. I didn't want to shell out for, what was essentially, the same thing with larger grips. If only there was a way to replicate the excellent feeling of the GameCube pad, I though to myself. So I did a little research, and it turned out there was!

The Hori Classic is available in black, white, and blue.

Enter the Hori Classic Controller. Turns out this controller had actually been available for quite some time in Japan... and only in Japan. Yes, this controller is an import. Yes, it's totally worth it. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's the best third party controller I've ever used. It's by far the best I've ever owned.

The first thing I noticed about the controller, and something that caught me off guard, is how comfortable it is. Looking at pictures of the thing, the outward-angled handles look very awkward. This wasn't the case at all. In fact, they were extremely confortable and ergonomically shaped. The back of them has a curvature to it right where the middle finger sits, giving your lower three fingers the entire handle to hold on to. Thumbs and pointers automatically sit right where they should. The controller was just as comfortable to hold as a GameCube or 360 controller. 

The face buttons on the Hori Classic are arranged in today's standard diamond formation, making them instantly easy to navigate. They are larger, flatter, and closer then an Xbox controller, but I had no trouble using them when playing. They are, however, a bit of an oddity. They're not bad by any means, but they're unlike any controller buttons I've ever used before. When pressed, they produce a satisfying click, yet the buttons are not clicky. In fact, they're a bit squishy. Again, I must stress that they're not uncomfortable to use or inaccurate or anything like that. They just feel a bit strange until you get used to them. 

The analog sticks on the Hori Classic are superb! They both sit lower and feel tighter than the official Nintendo controller. They're a bit taller and looser than the sticks on the 'Cube, but they feel much closer to them. In case you're wondering, the sticks still have an octagon around them, but that's never bothered me anyway. They are, however, a different thickness and shape but it's unnoticeable when you're playing. The tops are slightly rubberized and have three rings to provide grip (just like the GameCube pad). I wish they sticks were a little more rubbery, though. The GameCube and Wii sticks provide superb grip, and while the Hori Classic sticks also provide a solid grip, they're harder to the touch.

The d-pad is slightly larger than the Gamecube's and is made of a slightly textured hard plastic. It doesn't feel quite as nice as Nintendo's but it works just as well. 

The middle of the controller has a lot going on. The plus, minus, and home buttons are here and are easy to reach. Unlike the face buttons, they're rounded and less clicky. You don't use these very often, so it doesn't matter too much what they feel like, but know that they work well. Above them is a series of switches. These are actually tubo controls for Virtual Console games. There's a switch for each of the face buttons as well as the right and left triggers. I tested these with Blazing Lazers, a Turbografx game, and can verify they do their job and made firing my gun a lot faster. Each turbo switch has two levels of control and an off position. They actually need to be pressed down before they're slid because they lock into place, ensuring that you don't accidentally flip them. 

On the top of the controller are four shoulder buttons. The two z buttons have the same shape (even retaining the little bump) as the GameCube's, but feel like the z buttons on the stock Classic Controller. They're very stiff and clicky. The two "triggers" function exactly like the GameCube ones and retain the same basic shape. They are taller, however, and don't feel quite as comfortable as a result. The indentations for your finger are nowhere near as deep. This actually results in you having to push them down further before they respond. It's not a huge deal, and it's like going from the 360 to the original Xbox controller. The triggers for the original are larger so it takes more force to press them down. You get used to it after a while, but switching between the 'Cube and the Hori, the 'Cube is obviously superior.

Overall, the size of the controller is comparable to the 'Cube or 360 controllers with perhaps a tad more width. Not needing a battery pack of any kind, it's also a bit lighter. Still, the weight is good and controller feels very solidly built in the hand. One drawback, perhaps, is that the controller is not wireless, so you need to plug it into the Wii remote. I'm not bothered by this, but I wish the cord was longer. It's probably 2.5-3" in length meaning you need some space close by to lay your remote. Luckily, the cord comes out of the top of the controller instead of the bottom as with the original Classic.


+Comfortable, solid feel
+Standard diamond face button layout 
+Superb analog sticks
+D-pad is solid and functions perfectly 
+Turbo switches that lock into place for classic games
+Shoulder buttons imitate the basic feel of the GameCube controller

-R/L shoulder buttons sit up higher and aren't quite as comfortable
-Not wireless 
-Short cord

Could go either way:
•Non typical face buttons feel squishy and clicky at the same time
•Analogs are less rubbery than on a typical Nintendo pad 
•D-pad is smaller than on the official Nintendo equivalent

Final Thoughts:
I said it before and I'll say it again: This is the best third party controller I've ever used. It's so good, in fact, Nintendo should slap their seal on it and make it the official one. I loved it so much I bought a second! If you play games on your Wii that require a classic controller, you need to pick one of these up. Like, right now. They're getting progressively harder to find. I must confess, I bought the last two black ones available at Play-Asia. Sorry! There's a few whites up on eBay a few blues here and there. If you're lucky, you'll be able to snag a one before they're gone for good. Sure, they can be a little pricy, but it's worth every penny in my opinion (and still cheaper than most first-party controllers of similar quality). 


No comments:

Post a Comment