It’s tricky to review a static piece of hardware but that will not stop me from trying. Let’s start at the beginning; Wii MotionPlus is a small extension to the Wii Remote which connects and fixes to the Nunchuck port. Inside is a tiny electro gyroscope and if you’re not up on what a gyroscope is I suggest you think of it as a suspended but fixed sensor which can rotate freely in three dimensions. If that isn’t clear enough then just pretend there is a magic ball inside and that will make both our lives easier.
Whilst the Wii Remote on its own had an accelerometer which could detect if you tipped it from side to side it wasn’t very accurate and only worked in straight lines. Adding the gyroscope to the already semi sensitive accelerometer allows for much greater precision and sensitivity because every possible movement and angle you move at will be detectable. All this really means is that the Wii Remote can now be used in 1 to 1 accuracy scenarios and in real time meaning no horrid lag when you move and half a second later the onscreen image catches up.
Many people believed falsely that this was how the Wii Remote would originally work, whilst I wasn’t one of them I do feel their advertising was a little misleading and the actors did portray movements as if they were 1 to 1 when they were not. I don’t believe this was a deliberate deception by Nintendo rather than bad judgment when it came to over promoting their new ‘get off the couch and move’ style of gaming, to put it another way I would say the motions performed in the advertisements were over acted. The funny thing is that with MotionPlus the actions performed previously would now be quite accurate to the actual performance of the hardware but it will be a struggle to show the genuine difference in commercials, but that’s their fault.
So back to the MotionPlus itself – the Wii MotionPlus comes pre-squeezed into a new larger Wii Remote Jacket which not only helps keep the MotionPlus attached but does help limit the damage you can do when you wave your arms about. People have already gone to the effort of cutting it away from the jacket to be able to use it without the added layer of protection; I don’t personally recommend doing so because more strain can be put on the device which may lead to it coming off and breaking. As it happens there are reports of MotionPlus being too loose but Nintendo have stated that it has purposefully been designed to not be tight to the Wii Remote and some movement is normal. If you’ve correctly fitted the device it should not detach under any normal usage. People have been quite worried about calibration and reports of the MotionPlus movement being totally misaligned to what’s happening onscreen. Now whilst calibration can be an issue, if used normally and if the game software has been designed correctly you shouldn’t notice wild variations in performance. Most of the cases of decalibration are caused when the unit is thrashed about insanely whilst playing; the MotionPlus technology allows smooth and accurate tracking, if you wave it about in every direction and don’t allow it to rest or work itself out then it’s going to go wrong. If you play normally and allow it to naturally calibrate itself using the sensor bar (by pointing directly at the screen occasionally) then you will be fine.
I’m not going to go into the specifics of Wii MotionPlus performance here because the technology and performance are fine. How this relates to gameplay is down to the actual game design, all I’ll say is that MotionPlus works and I’m looking forward to a new exciting range of Motion Games for Wii in the future.
Whilst this new tech is cool there are some downsides to such a thing being released as an additional addon to the controller rather than it being part of the original design. Firstly as soon as the MotionPlus is attached and the WiiRemote is powered on then the Gyroscope is draining power from your batteries. If most of your time is currently spent playing non motion plus games then keeping it attached could require you to change batteries more often which will result in you having to fiddle with the controller a little more. Secondly the MotionPlus makes the Wii Remote too big to fit into any of Nintendo’s official (and many unofficial) peripherals, if you want to use a Wii Zapper or the Wii Wheel then you’re forced to remove MotionPlus and place the standard WiiRemote into the shell. This isn’t too bad but once again is a little more hassle that other console owners don’t have to deal with. Not only that but I personally find the wrist strap is now a little too short for comfort and that games requiring you to hold the Wii Remote NES style (such as Excite Truck, Super Paper Mario and others) are no longer as easy to play with the Wii MotionPlus attached.
So to sum up, Wii MotionPlus in an important next step in the Wii’s lifecycle. Most people are getting tired of the overuse of excessive and quite pointless waggle in games and I believe that this could solve the problem. If I’m honest about it then I will say that I believe the actual implementation isn’t perfect. It would have been much better to release a new WiiRemote with the MotionPlus tech physically inside the controller requiring less human handling with on a day to day basis, however the unit works really well and in the end that’s the fundamental thing. Now all we need are some new and brilliant games to use it with. If I had to award MotionPlus a score I’d give it 8 out of 10. Roll on Red Steel 2 and Legend of Zelda Wii please.
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Related: Wii MotionPlus release date, Wii MotionPlus