A Wii Remote with attached strap.
|Type||Video game controller|
|First available||November 19, 2006|
|System storage||16 KiB EEPROM chip (16.3 kilobytes)|
|This article is written
from the Real Life
point of view
The Wii Remote (also known as the Wiimote) is the primary controller for Nintendo's Wii. A main feature of the Wii Remote is its motion sensing capability, which allows the player to interact with and manipulate items on screen via movement and pointing through the use of accelerometer and optical sensor technology. Another feature is its expandability through the use of attachments.
The Wii Remote was announced at the Tokyo Game Show on September 16, 2005. It has since received much attention due to its unique features and the contrast between it and typical gaming controllers. It has also gained significant attention from hackers reprogramming it to control non Wii-related devices through Wii homebrew.
Sources indicate that development of the Wii Remote began in or around 2001, coinciding with development of the Wii console. In that year, Nintendo licensed a number of motion-sensing patents from Gyration Inc., a company that produces wireless motion-sensing computer mice. Nintendo then commissioned Gyration Inc. to create a one-handed controller for them, which eventually developed the "'Gyropod' concept", a more traditional gamepad which allowed its right half to break away for motion-control. At this point, Gyration Inc. brought in separate design firm Bridge Design to help pitch their concept to Nintendo. Under requirement to "roughly preserve the existing Game Cube [sic] button layout", they experimented with different forms "through sketches, models and interviewing various hardcore gamers". By "late 2004, early 2005", however, Nintendo had come up with the Wii Remote's less traditional "wand shape", and the design of the Nunchuk attachment. Nintendo had also decided upon using a motion sensor, infrared pointer, and the layout of the buttons, and by the end of 2005 the controller was ready for mass production.
During development of the Wii Remote, video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto brought in mobile phones and controllers for automotive navigation systems for inspiration, eventually producing a prototype that resembled a cell phone. Another design featured both an analog stick and a touchscreen, but Nintendo rejected the idea of a touchscreen on the controller, "since the portable console and living-room console would have been exactly the same".
Sources also indicate that the Wii Remote was originally in development as a controller for the Nintendo GameCube, rather than the Wii. Video game developer Factor 5 stated that during development of launch title Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, they had an early prototype of a motion-sensing controller. Video game journalist Matt Casamassina of IGN stated that he believed that Nintendo had planned to release the Wii Remote for the GameCube, noting that "Nintendo said that it hoped that GCN could enjoy a longer life cycle with the addition of top-secret peripherals that would forever enhance the gameplay experience." He suggested that Nintendo may have wanted to release the Wii Remote with a new system, instead of onto the GameCube, as "[the] Revolution addresses one of the GameCube's biggest drawbacks, which is that it was/is perceived as a toy."
The Wii Remote assumes a one-handed remote control-based design instead of the traditional gamepad controllers of previous gaming consoles. This was done to make motion sensitivity more intuitive, as a remote design is fitted perfectly for pointing, and in part to help the console appeal to a broader audience that includes non-gamers. The body of the Wii Remote measures 148mm (5.83in) long, 36.2mm (1.43in) wide, and 30.8mm (1.21in) thick. The Wii Remote model number is RVL-003, a reference to the project codename "Revolution". The controller communicates wirelessly with the console via short-range Bluetooth radio, with which it is possible to operate up to four controllers as far as 10 meters (approx. 30ft) away from the console. However, to utilize pointer functionality, the Wii Remote must be used within five meters (approx. 16ft) of the Sensor Bar. The controller's symmetrical design allows it to be used in either hand. The Wii Remote can also be turned horizontally and used like a NES controller, or in some cases a steering wheel. It is also possible to play a single player game with a Wii Remote in each hand, as in the 'Shooting Range' game contained in Wii Play.
At E3 2006, a few minor changes were made to the controller from the design presented at the Game Developer's Conference. The controller was made slightly longer, and a speaker was added to the face beneath the center row of buttons. The "B" button became more curved resembling a trigger. The "Start" and "Select" buttons were changed to plus "+" and minus "–", and the "b" and "a" buttons were changed to 1 and 2 to differentiate them from the "A" and "B" buttons. Also, the symbol on the "Home" button was changed from a blue dot to a shape resembling a home/house, the shape of the power button was circular rather than rectangular, and the blue LEDs indicating player number are now labelled using small Braille-like raised dots instead of Arabic numerals, with "1" being "•", "2" being "••", "3" being "•••", and "4" being "••••". The Nintendo logo at the bottom of the controller face was replaced with the Wii logo. Also, the expansion port was redesigned, with expansion plugs featuring a smaller snap-on design.
The blue LEDs also show how much battery power remains on the Wii Remote. By pressing any button, besides the power button while the controller is not being used to play games, a certain number of the four blue LEDs will light up, showing the battery life: four of the LEDs flash when it is at, or near, full power. Three lights flash when it is at 75%, two lights when at 50%, and one light flashes when there is 25% or less power remaining.
In the Red Steel trailer shown at E3 2006, the Wii Remote featured a smaller circular shaped image sensor, as opposed to the larger opaque IR filters shown on other versions. In the initial teaser video that revealed the controller at TGS 2005, the 1 and 2 buttons were labelled X and Y, respectively.
At E3 2006, Nintendo displayed white, black, and blue controllers. At a Wii event held on August 15, 2006 held by THQ, where the publisher's launch titles were demonstrated to press and children, all the controllers were in a two-toned scheme, black on the face, gunmetal on the reverse side. The controllers were glossy on the front, matte on the back, similar to the controllers Nintendo showed after the 2005 Tokyo Game Show. IGN published numerous photos of the event featuring the black controllers, but have since taken them down, as well as requesting their removal at other sites that had republished the photos. The Wii console launched with only the white model, with Shigeru Miyamoto commenting that new hues will be provided after the relief of supply limitations which are expected to continue "until Spring ". Wii Remotes packaged with Wii Motion Plus are black, and come with black jackets.
The Wii Remote comes with a wrist strap attached to the bottom to ensure the safety of the device. Every Wii game displays a caution screen upon loading to warn you to use the strap in order to avoid the remote slipping from the grip during erratic movements.
IGN reported that the strap tends to break under heavy use, which would potentially send the Wii Remote flying in various directions at speed. WarioWare: Smooth Moves also sometimes requires the Wii Remote to be dropped, which would cause problems in the event of a strap failure. In response, Nintendo has posted guidelines on proper use of the strap and the Wii Remote. On December 8, 2006, units with thicker straps began to appear in some areas of the world. On December 15, 2006, Nintendo denied reports of a Wii wrist strap recall. While Nintendo refuted claims that three million straps had been recalled, it will be providing replacement wrist straps free of charge for users who have broken theirs. However, the U.S. CPSC has become involved in the "replacement program". The old 0.6mm (0.024in) diameter strap is replaced by a larger, 1.0mm (0.039in) diameter version. Nintendo's online "Wrist Strap Replacement Request Form" allows owners to receive up to four free straps when a Wii serial number and shipping details are provided.
On August 3, 2007, a new wrist strap was discovered to be in circulation. The strap featured a lock clip instead of a slide to ensure that the clip would not slide away from one's wrist during fervent play.
Nintendo announced a free new accessory for the Wii Remote, the Wii Remote Jacket, on October 1, 2007. The removable silicone sleeve wraps around the Wii Remote to provide users a better grip and cushioning. The cushioning intends to keep the Wii Remote protected in case it is accidentally dropped or thrown. Nintendo plans to ship hardware and separately packaged controllers with the jacket and expects products with the jacket will be available the week of October 15, 2007. Just as with the wrist strap replacements, Nintendo has put up a Wii Remote Jacket request form on its North American, British and Australian websites allowing current Wii owners to request up to four of the jackets free of charge.
Accessed with the Wii Remote's home button, the Home Menu displays information about the controller(s) currently being used, and allows the user to configure certain options. At the bottom of the menu screen, the battery life of all connected controllers is displayed. Below that is a bar labelled Wii Remote Settings. Selecting it brings you to an options screen where you can control the audio output volume, force feedback, and reconnect the controllers, for example to connect Wii Remotes through one-time synchronization. Depending on when the Home Menu is accessed, there will be a different amount of buttons displayed.
Wii Menu: No matter when the menu is accessed, the Wii Menu button will always be present. Selecting this will bring back the Wii Menu, where one can choose another channel.
Reset: In applications, the Reset button is available. This performs a soft reset of that particular application, for example returning a game to its title screen or returning to the loading screen of a Wii Menu channel.
Operations Guide: On Wii Menu channels, including the News Channel, Forecast Channel, Everybody Votes Channel and Virtual Console titles, the Operations Guide button will appear on the Home Menu. The guide accessed acts as an instruction manual.
The Home Menu may be accessed under most circumstances during Wii operation, which freezes the on-screen action. Otherwise a Home symbol with a strikethrough appears onscreen. It is also inaccessible during Nintendo GameCube play.
The Wii Remote has the ability to sense acceleration along three axes through the use of an Analog Devices ADXL330 accelerometer. The Wii Remote also features a PixArt optical sensor, allowing it to determine where the Wii Remote is pointing.
Unlike a light gun that senses light from a television screen, the Wii Remote senses light from the console's Sensor Bar, which allows consistent usage regardless of a television's type or size. The Sensor Bar is about 20 cm (8 in) in length and features ten infrared LEDs, with five LEDs being arranged at each end of the bar In each group of five LEDs, the LED farthest away from the center is pointed slightly away from the center, the LED closest to the center is pointed slightly toward the center, while the three LEDs between them are pointed straight forward and grouped together. The Sensor Bar's cable is 353cm (11ft 7in) in length. The bar may be placed above or below the television, and should be centered. If placed above, the sensor should be in line with the front of the television, and if placed below, should be in line with the front of the surface the television is placed on. It is not necessary to point directly at the Sensor Bar, but pointing significantly away from the bar will disrupt position-sensing ability due to the limited viewing angle of the Wii Remote.
Use of the Sensor Bar allows the Wii Remote to be used as an accurate pointing device up to 5 meters (approx. 16ft) away from the bar. The Wii Remote's image sensor is used to locate the Sensor Bar's points of light in the Wii Remote's field of view. The light emitted from each end of the Sensor Bar is focused onto the image sensor which sees the light as two bright dots separated by a distance "mi" on the image sensor. The second distance "m" between the two clusters of light emitters in the Sensor Bar is a fixed distance. From these two distances m and mi, the Wii CPU calculates the distance between the Wii Remote and the Sensor Bar using triangulation. In addition, rotation of the Wii Remote with respect to the ground can also be calculated from the relative angle of the two dots of light on the image sensor. Games can be programmed to sense whether the image sensor is covered, which is demonstrated in a Microgame of Smooth Moves, where if you do not uncover the sensor, the champagne bottle that the remote represents will not open.
The Sensor Bar is required when the Wii Remote is controlling up-down, left-right motion of a cursor or reticle on the TV screen to point to menu options or objects such as enemies in first person shooters. Because the Sensor Bar also allows the Wii Remote to calculate the distance between the Wii Remote and the Sensor Bar, the Wii Remote can also control slow forward-backward motion of an object in a 3-dimensional game. Rapid forward-backward motion, such as punching in a boxing game, is controlled by the acceleration sensors. Using these acceleration sensors (acting as tilt sensors), the Wii Remote can also control rotation of a cursor or other objects.
The use of an infrared sensor to detect position can cause some detection problems when other infrared sources are around, such as incandescent light bulbs or candles. This can be easily alleviated by using fluorescent lights around the Wii, which emit little to no infrared light. Innovative users have used other sources of IR light as Sensor Bar substitutes such as a pair of flashlights and a pair of candles. Such substitutes for the Sensor Bar illustrate the fact that a pair of non-moving lights provide continuous calibration of the direction that the Wii Remote is pointing and its physical location relative to the light sources. There is no way to calibrate the position of the cursor relative to where the user is pointing the controller without the two stable reference sources of light provided by the Sensor Bar or substitutes.
The position and motion tracking of the Wii Remote allows you to mimic actual game actions, such as swinging a sword or aiming a gun, instead of simply pushing buttons. An early marketing video showed actors miming actions such as fishing, cooking, drumming, conducting a string quartet, shooting a gun, sword fighting, and performing dental surgery.
The Wii Remote also features an expansion port at the bottom which allows various functional attachments to be added. This expandability is similar to that available with the port on the Nintendo 64 controller. The expansions are:
Overall reception to the Wii Remote has changed over time. The control styles provided by the controller were met with praise at its first public exhibition at E3. Since then, comments have been noted by the press on its functionality. Matt Wales of IGN UK highlighted the aiming and precision of Red Steel and stated, "Taking down swathes of enemies with nothing more than a twitch of the wrist proves immensely satisfying and, more importantly, incredibly involving."
Other publications have noted specific complaints regarding control. GameSpot expressed that some motions in Cooking Mama: Cook Off failed to transmit or meet expectation during gameplay. Similar observations were made on other titles made available during the Wii launch period. ComputerAndVideoGames.com reported, "Most prominent is the first batch of games, many of which do a better job at exposing the obstacles of full motion control, rather than the benefits...Red Steel is twitchy and occasionally clumsy, Need For Speed...is near unplayable, Far Cry got it all wrong, and the motion control in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance just feels tacked on."
The overall situation was described by Joystiq thusly: "Over the months since launch, the unpredictable Wii Remote has led to a maddening dichotomy. Some games are too easy, while others are too hard -- for all the wrong reasons...Gamers who crave a deeper challenge have to settle for battling incomprehensible controls." Critics felt that fault was largely attributed to the developer's lack of experience with the Wii Remote. Jeremy Parish of Electronic Gaming Monthly compared the initial phase of control implementation to that of the Nintendo DS. Matt Casamassina of IGN also presumed that the first generation of Wii games were of an experimental stage and that potential for refinement had yet to be exploited.
Later-released titles have seen mixed reactions in terms of control. Of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 from EA Games, Matthew Kato of Game Informer stated that the controller "has a hard time detecting your backswing. Thus, it’s harder to control. There were even times the game putted for me by accident." A GamePro review for Medal of Honor: Vanguard offers that the title "is an encouraging sign that developers are finally starting to work out the kinks and quirks of the Wii Remote."
First-party titles have produced more favorable utilization of the Wii Remote's unique capabilities. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption in particular was nearly universally lauded for its unique control scheme, which is seen as being unrivaled by any other console title and comparable if not superior to a keyboard and mouse setup. Corruption utilizes the Nunchuk for strafing and the infrared pointing capability of the Wii Remote for turning and special "gestures", which are used to select visors. Other Nintendo titles take a more minimalist approach, using mostly the pointer and buttons only, as with Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree, or use the controller in a sideways configuration to resemble an NES Controller while de-emphasizing more advanced capabilities, as seen in Super Paper Mario.
- The Wii Remote is featured in the set of toys offerred by Burger King that includes Metroid Challenge.
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