Power A Pro Pack Mini Plus Controller
UPDATE: Upon publishing my initial review, I was contacted by Power A re concerns with my findings using the Pro Pack Mini Plus product. Power A was genuinely concerned with the experience that I had with their product and believed that the results may have stemmed from a defective product; after additional research including testing of another product sample, I can say that the original unit which I reviewed appears to have been defective / faulty. In good faith, I have decided to update my review with my findings based on my experience(s) with a product sample that has been tested to ensure that it was not faulty prior to my usage. The resulting experience was much more positive than my original one. Please check out my additional comments and edits to the review below which reflect my findings with the working product.
Just because a device looks smaller and sleeker than the standard offering, it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily better.
That is the hard lesson that I learned with Power A’s Pro Pack Mini Plus controller and nunchuk for the Nintendo Wii.
The device looks and feels great,
but it fails to perform when actually playing games. and it performs quite well too.
Ergonomic-ally speaking, the Pro Pack Mini Plus is a gem, especially for those in your household with smaller hands. The smaller design fits more comfortably in the palm of your hand when it comes to the Wiimote and the general material used in the design is soft and comfortable on both devices. Nearly all of the buttons are tight and responsive with the exception of the clickable analog stick on the nunchuk. That is really a shame considering how tight the analog stick itself is which is a welcome change to most Wii nunchuks.
The nunchuk is about the same size as the official option from Nintendo. The Wiimote on the other hand is about half an inch shorter than the standard offering and features enlarged A, 1, and 2 buttons. The increased button is nice and makes it easier to find and press the various buttons during gameplay. Each of these buttons also features an adjustable backlighting option which can be triggered using a small button adjacent to the power button on the controller. While the lighting option looks cool when in use, it is ultimately not very effective as only 3 buttons are lit and it is rather easy to distinguish between them given their spacing and vertical layout.
Unfortunately, the effective design of the controller doesn’t lend to its overall performance. The design works well when combined with the solid and reliable performance of the product.
The Wiimote portion also featured an extremely well designed directional pad that is a true joy when being used in the various Virtual Console and platforming titles. Using the controller for games that utilize the pad and the 1 and 2 buttons is a true charm. The buttons are super effective and feel incredibly comfortable compared to the standard offering. Overall, these design decisions come together to form a great package visually.
The problem is we don’t just want a controller that looks good; it needs to play well too.
Sadly, the little device doesn’t perform nearly as well as it looks when the Wiimote functions come into play. First off, the IR function of the Wiimote isn’t nearly as reliable as it needs to be to ensure quality gameplay sessions. The cursor detection appears to be lost repeatedly and it often jumps around on you. It always needs to reconnect itself which will cause you headaches in the midst of intense battles.
My experience with a working product sample proved to be almost the exact opposite of my initial findings. The Pro Pack Mini Plus is actually quite responsive. There were very few times when I experienced an apparent loss of connection with the sensor bar, including tests with both my original setup using the official sensor bar and a different, third-party one. The range holds just as well as the first party offerings do with the standard Nintendo sensor bar, which is something that I usually find lacking in third-party products. There was a rare occasion of “jumpiness” in the cursor on the screen, but no more than I was used to experiencing with my original Wiimotes. Combining the solid performance with the improved ergonomic design of Power A’s offering proved to be a very pleasant experience.
Sadly, being smaller in size, the Wiimote portion isn’t 100% compatible with the various Wiimote-accessories that most Wii owners have surely accumulated. Don’t expect this thing to fit into your steering wheels or gun attachments as your standard offerings do; you may get it into some, but it won’t be nearly as stable or responsive as the official offering, especially considering its basic technical shortcomings in the IR department.
Just as the controller won’t fit into any accessory offerings due to its decreased size, it also won’t be friendly with the various rechargeable offerings that you likely already own. You will likely have to go back to using standard AA batteries (possibly rechargeable) if you are going to make use of the Pro Pack Mini Plus.
It is also very important to note that the package itself is a little misleading as well as the product is labeled as the Pro Pack Mini “Plus” and it is advertised as featuring built-in Motion Technology; however, the device is, as the official specifications from Power A state, offers “the same functionality as the original Remote and Nunchuk”. Don’t be fooled by the clever wording of the name and the promise of native Motion Tech, there is no Wii Motion Plus technology present in this device. This proved to be a huge let down in my household as we were happy to finally have another Wii Motion Plus driven controller in the midst but eventually found out that wasn’t the case.
The Pro Pack Mini Plus does in fact feature full Wii-Motion Plus support. While I do take some issue with the working used on the product packaging and the official website, I cannot argue with its performance. The second controller that I tested worked fine with Wii-Motion Plus titles such as Wii Sports Resort and Red Steel 2. This is one aspect that I feel that Power A should push harder in their advertising of the product as it is very nice to have access to the Motion Plus feature in a much smaller package, especially considering that it works just as well as the official offering.
The Power A Power Pack Mini Plus is a great looking controller, but that is ultimately where its “greatness” stops. The quality design and feel of the device is only skin deep and the parts that matter just don’t perform the way they need to. It is truly a shame too as I really prefer the visual appearance and design of this set over the official first party offerings, but it just doesn’t get the job done when it counts. You would be better off paying just a few more dollars at the store and buying the official version than throwing your money away on this controller.
The truth is, the controller performs as well as it looks. The Pro Pack Mini is one of the best third-party Wiimate available on the market, but there are still issues to be had with its compatability with the various accessories available for the console. Personally, I do not have issue with it as I never use those attachments and shells, but numerous other members of my gaming family do, and they were less pleased with the Pro Pack Mini than I was for that lone reasoning.
The Power Pack Mini is a great alternative to the official Nintendo Wiimote. For a slightly cheaper price, you get a more comfortable controller with all of the bells and whistles of Nintendo’s official offering(s) and add-ons. The smaller design though does create and issue with the various accessories such as driving Wii’s and Wiimote skins, so be warned if you have a lot of those as they will not play nicely with this product.
Rating: 8.9 Class Leading
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
If you have been here before, you know the basics: lifelong gamer, father, and of course, certified news monkey. I have been blogging on the industry for close to a decade now, in some form or another. It wasn't until I landed here at Gaming Nexus that I really dove in head first. Now, writing about games has become what I do for fun (and sometimes work) and something I intend on doing until the day I die.
I'm a huge fan of just about everything you can interact with using a controller, no matter how old or new, good or bad. If you put it in front of me, I will play it... end of story.