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Overview

Introduced by Nintendo as a unique method of controlling the Nintendo Wii, the Wii Remote was designed with ease-of-use and accessibility prominently in mind. Essentially, the Wii Remote is a remote control with buttons which the player uses to control games and navigate the Wii's operating system. Additionally, the Wii remote features motion-sensing technology can be used to simulate the precise movements of swinging a baseball bat or a tennis racket, pointing a gun, swinging a sword, or any other number actions associated with real-life activities.

Design

Shake it like a Polaroid picture.

The Wii Remote contains two important pieces of technology--an accelerometer and a high-resolution infrared sensor. Via the accelerometer, which can accurately measure fluctuations in gravity along three axes, the Wii Remote can effectively double as both a standard remote control and a motion-sensing game controller. Depending on how the player holds or positions the Wii Remote, the game (using pre-conditioning to recognize specific values on the three axes) will react accordingly. By making use of an infrared sensor bar included with the Wii console which emits infrared light that is in turn detected by the sensor within the Wii Remote, the controller is able to measure its distance from the television, the current direction it's pointed in, and its position in relation to the screen.

Limitations

Due to the device's reliance on infrared light, a typical player's living room could potentially be full of objects and surfaces that might interfere with the Wii sensor bar's output or the Wii Remote's input. Bright lights, large windows, reflective surfaces, metallic objects, and many other things have the potential of making the Wii Remote non-functional. The Wii motion sensing capabilities are also limited, making true "one-to-one" motion controls difficult.

Wii Remote Plus

Not just people come in different colors.

At their E3 2008 press conference, Nintendo unveiled plans for a Wii Remote attachment called the "Wii Motion Plus" that would improve responsiveness due to the built in gyroscope and ship with Wii Sports Resort in the Spring of 2009. Other than that, not a lot of titles went on to use the attachment as an optional enhancement, even fewer outright required it. Most notably among those titles that did require MotionPlus were Ubisoft's Red Steel 2 and Nintendo's own The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

In September 2010, Nintendo announced an updated Wii Remote that had a MotionPlus attachment already built in, called the Wii Remote Plus. The updated controller launched with the game FlingSmash as a bundle. Later, it also came bundled with Wii Play: Motion and a limited edition of Skyward Sword. It is now the standard controller, packed in with every Wii console. The Wii U will also support it.

Wii U branded Wii Remote Plus controllers started to feature the sync button the outside of the device, located on the lower backside. This is supposed to make syncing easier which is also the reason why the Wii U console's sync button is on the outside of the system in the front as well.

Safety Issues

Since people have sweaty hands, this accessory has quickly become a safety hazard not only for children but also for adults, electronics and furniture. Several reports of people losing grip of the Wii Remote and it smashing their TV, windows and favorite family members surfaced shortly after the system launched. Apparently, the wrist straps included with the system were especially fragile in the hands of your average North American raised on Football and, thus, an innocent input device for a gaming console turned into a deadly projectile. Hilarity and lawsuits ensued.

No glove, no love.

To ensure people "don't lose their grip" (and stop suing), Nintendo took initiative and made a silicone cover called the Wii Remote Jacket (playfully referred to as the Wii Condom by all the "cool" people) which were included with new shipments of the device and console units. Additionally, they created a thicker, more robust version of the wrist strap and included them with all new shipments containing a Wii Remote. Customers were able to order both safety upgrades completely free of charge from Nintendo's website by entering the serial number of their Wii console, showing Nintendo's commitment to not-getting-sued-anymore.

The soft, rubbery corners of the jacket along with the wrist strap are supposed to make people smarter (read: not throw their controllers around anymore) and thus prevent total destruction of everything that is good in the world, especially expensive High Definition Television devices. However, if you hit someone in the face with a Wii Remote wearing the rubber jacket, it still hurts like hell.

Trivia

  • The Wii Remote was initially thought up to be a peripheral for the Nintendo Gamecube before it became part of the core philosophy behind their next home console.
  • During official game demos, Nintendo infamously insists that everybody playing the game put the wrist strap on at all times.

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