Impressions: PDP Wired Fight Pad

We put the GameCube controller alternative to the test!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 04/09/2015 13:00 1 Comment     ShareThis

Fight pads are nothing new for grizzled fighting game fans. From special controllers to entire arcade sticks, veterans of Street Fighter, Tekken, Marvel vs. Capcom, and many other similar series have been hammering away at various alternative controllers for years now in order to maximize their performance. Though fight pads aren’t all that common on Nintendo systems, anyone who’s been playing Super Smash Bros. since Melee on GameCube can testify to that system’s beloved controller as being the only way to battle. When Nintendo transitioned to Wii U, fans were thrilled to learn that an adapter would be released in order for players to experience the latest Smash Bros. using those very controllers, but it wasn’t an entirely perfect solution. Nabbing the adapter hasn’t been the easiest, and it’s not free either; combined with having to buy one of Nintendo’s new Smash-branded GameCube controllers for those who don’t own an original anymore, and it can get expensive real quick.

PDP, no stranger to the world of fighting games and the needs of its players, has stepped in with a handy, and slightly more economical, alternative. PDP’s Wired Fight Pads plug into a Wii remote and function ostensibly like a Classic Controller Pro. The controllers are modeled to look very much like a traditional GameCube pad, but there are several key differences that distinguish the two. The PDP pads have longer hand grips and analogue sticks, with the sticks also having a different level of resistance than a GameCube controller’s. For those who have been playing with any of the big three console makers’ controllers for the past two system generations, the sticks will feel completely natural. For diehard Smash players who’ve only ever relied on GameCube controllers, however, there might be a period of acclimation, especially with the C-Stick.

Another element of PDP’s Wired Fight Pads that differs from the original GameCube design can be found with the shoulder buttons. There are four buttons (L, R, ZL, ZR) that rest at the top of these controllers, though the layout is much the same as before, save for the addition of the shoulder button on the front top left. The buttons for ZL and ZR, however, don’t compress with the same trigger-like effect of a GameCube pad. These buttons have a single level of input with no trigger effect. Beyond the addition of +, -, and Home buttons, (and the omission of any rumble feedback, sadly) the L and R buttons are the biggest change, and to repeat, ones that will have varying impact on ease of use based on a player’s own preferences. My adjustment time to everything that I’ve listed above was virtually nothing; I noted the changes and played on as though I’d been using the PDP pad my entire life. That said, everyone is different, and I think it’s only fair to point out that it’s not an exact replica of a GameCube controller.

While a lack of rumble and the need to plug into a Wii Remote to be used are slight disappointments, PDP has done an otherwise incredible job with these controllers. They can be used with any Wii or Wii U games that are compatible with a Classic Controller or Classic Controller Pro, for one, which expands their functionality quite a bit beyond Smash Bros. PDP’s Wired Fight Pads also come in a killer range of character-themed designs. As of this writing, the controllers are offered in Mario, Luigi, Peach, Donkey Kong, Wario, Yoshi, Link, and Samus designs, and they’re gorgeous. Clocking in at $24.99 each, which is nothing to sneeze at of course, I nevertheless anticipated middling quality. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that these fight pads are very sturdy, with responsive analogue sticks and buttons that don’t stick. The designs are flashy, certainly, but they really capture the spirit of each character. The Samus controller is a true standout, though, with metallic orange paint and a glossy yellow underside that make the thing look just like a chunk of the bounty hunter’s armor.

Playing with the controllers has been smooth and problem free. I can’t even number how many dozens of matches I’ve clocked in with the handful of the Wired Fight Pads that I currently own. Each one has withstood the whirlwind marathon Smash sessions I’ve subjected them to with nary a scratch, tweak, loose stick, stuck button, or any other malady that can often afflict a typical third-party controller. The things make quite an impression on other people, to be honest; I used my Donkey Kong PDP pad this past Easter while playing with my cousin, and he and his siblings all seemed to be impressed with it. As I mentioned earlier, if there’s one significant drawback to the PDP Wired Fight Pad, it’s the need for a Wii Remote to function, but with the proliferation of Wii Remotes amongst Wii and Wii U owners, I think that’s a dilemma which can be surmounted easily enough.

I generally am wary of third-party controllers. From rigid buttons to frequent malfunctions, it can be hit or miss buying a controller from a company that isn’t Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft. PDP, however, seems to have gotten its faux GameCube controllers right, as far as I’m concerned. As someone who owns the GameCube controller adapter and several GameCube controllers, I’ve still found myself using these PDP pads almost exclusively. They’re the sort of fan service, frankly, that I wish Nintendo would do itself. PDP’s Wired Fight Pads are fun to look at, fun to use, and aren’t a bank breaker. I highly recommend anyone who’s been looking to play Smash Bros. with a GameCube controller but has been prohibited by money or stock availability to give these a look. I also recommend these controllers for collectors, as they’re so wonderful to just stare at– if nothing else they deserve a spot in anyone’s collection.

One Response to “Impressions: PDP Wired Fight Pad”

  • 9 points
    tribalturtle says...

    I had to register just to put my two cents in here. I have found the pdp pads to be terrible. Overall shape is off from the gc original, the analog sticks do not have the same gc feel, and the worst offense is the L and R triggers. Still analog press with a digital click, but with no analog input whatsoever as to make you push those triggers in all the way every time, which is exhausting and increases input lag on the physical side of things. I had to mod the triggers to a single click input to make the controller remotely usable for Smash.

    With all that and a logo that was coming off in a month, please check out the Hori pads instead. Same gc shape and analog feel, larger d pad (SNES comparable), and most importantly digital single click L and R.

    Go Hori, smash fans. Forget about these things.

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