Wii MotionPlus: Fact, Fiction, Fraud or Hoax
Ten days ago Nintendo's Wii MotionPlus came into my life. I plugged it into my Wii Remote, clicked the LOCK button, then applied the new, extend-o version of the rubber grip casing (which resembles a very poorly made condom. I'm just saying). Voil?: my once modest-sized Wii Remote had grown an entire inch. Suddenly, the Wii Remote had more heft in my hand; it had substance. Instead of feeling like a toy or a videogame controller, it felt like a tool, or maybe a weapon. It had an adult-like seriousness about it. Or maybe I was simply hoping for some adult-sized seriousness. Let's face it: The Wii doesn't have to grow up; it's still selling like cold drinks on a hot day. But as a gamer, I'd sure like it to grow up.
What exactly is this thing that Nintendo is trying to foist on us for the low, low price of only $19.99? (I can hear Reggie Fils-Aime saying, "And if you call now, we'll include this vintage copy of Geist absolutely free.") Does it make a dramatic difference in the way you game? In short: Do you need one?
I hid my antipsychotics from myself for the day and let my schizophrenia take over. Here's what my two selves had to say about the Wii MotionPlus.
Nintendo finally delivers on the it's-not-just-waggle-anymore promise. There are two Wii MotionPlus-compatible games kicking around the office: Grand Slam Tennis and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 (both from EA Sports). Of the two, Tiger fares a bit better. Putting is still an exercise in trial and error, but making 15-yard chip shots from the rough actually feels like you're making 15-yard chip shots from the rough. There's still a bit of lag involved -- more than I would like, frankly -- but it's very close to a one-one, you-to-Wii ratio. Grand Slam Tennis, by comparison relies more on timing than accuracy. Still, when it comes together, it has the feeling of a key sliding into a lock. It just feels right -- you feel connnected to what's happening on-screen in a way you don't in traditional button-centric games. And staring down the barrel of Roger Federer's rocket-like serve? I actually felt the tiniest bit afraid for my well-being. Both games are a couple of clicks closer to approximating a truer experience in their respective sports.
That said, both games are still a couple of clicks away from being truly compelling gaming experiences. Neither game makes the Wii MotionPlus feel like the wunderbar/veil-lifted moment that Nintendo promised us we would have. Instead, the attachment seems to improve both games only marginally. The difference is borderline neglible at times. Worst of all, the best way to win or survive a match in Grand Slam Tennis -- look out, because it's going to get ugly in here -- is to revert back to your waggling ways. Instead of making big, smooth forehands ? la the instructions, I'd shake the Wii Remote at the ball; and more often than not, this would result in a decent shot. And when things go haywire in both games -- trust me, they will go very, very haywire at times, with drives/backhands flying off in some unfortunate directions -- it's hard not to resent the Wii MotionPlus. It's hard not to think, Wasn't this thing supposed to result in fewer of these bullsh*t Wii moments? Is the technology better? It is. But we're still a few months or possibly years away from motion-based technology that empowers instead of handicaps. (Project Natal: That's your cue.)
Verdict: Wii Sports Resort should be the grade-A showcase for the Wii MotionPlus. Save your cash until the game ships in late July.
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