When Nintendo announced Wii MotionPlus at last year's E3 2008 press conference, it certainly raised a few eyebrows. First off, we wondered why this technology wasn't included in the original Wii remote to begin with. With the device debuting so late in the console's lifespan, would every game be able to take advantage of MotionPlus?
Wii MotionPlus was released back in June, but Nintendo did not have any first-party games available at the time to show off the new technology. Instead, we were left with third-party titles that did. Now that we're able to get our hands on Wii Sports Resort — the title Nintendo is launching MotionPlus with — we have a much better idea of what it's like playing with the attachment. It's tough to make a final judgement on MotionPlus, as you'll have no choice but to use it if you want to play certain games. Instead, all we can do is talk about how it feels and whether or not it does a better motion sensing job.
All you'll find in the packaging is the plastic piece and a new rubber sleeve to accommodate the Wii remote's new length. Wii MotionPlus itself is only about 2.5cm square and easily hooks on to your Wii remote using two prongs. When inserted, you'll slide the rear lock switch so it won't fall out during gameplay. A plastic trap door sits at the base of the device so that you can also hook in your nunchuk controller.
Using the MotionPlus attachment occasionally felt a bit clunky. It does add a noticeable length to the Wii remote. If you turn it horizontally, it makes hitting the "1" and "2" buttons very difficult. Let's just hope there are no MotionPlus games out there that will require you to play in horizontal mode.
As far as we can tell, MotionPlus does not noticeably affect battery life on the Wii remote. Unfortunately, most older Wii rechargeable docking stations won't accommodate the remote's new shape — you'll most likely have to remove MotionPlus before you recharge. That said, we really liked the Energizer 2x Induction Charge Station, which is able to charge a Wii remote with MotionPlus attached.
For the most part, it does offer an impressive 1:1 representation of your movements on-screen. We tested the game out with two early games that can use it: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 and Grand Slam Tennis. We'll get to our testing with Wii Sports Resort later.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 seems to only use MotionPlus for performing draw and fade shots. During your back swing, you need to twist your wrist left or right in order to make the ball slice. A meter appears on-screen (unique to those with the accessory) that measures the slight movements in your grip of the Wii remote.
We couldn't tell the difference between actual swinging, however. It seemed the Wii remote was just as accurate in detecting our pullback regardless of whether or not MotionPlus was attached.
During our testing with Grand Slam Tennis, the MotionPlus control was even less impressive. Sure, our player's racket was moving perfectly with our Wii remote before a serve, but that control didn't translate well during actual gameplay. In fact, we found that MotionPlus made the game even harder to play. When we took off the device, we had a much easier time keeping the ball in play.
When it was time to try out Wii Sports Resort, we instantly realised what Nintendo had in mind for the new technology. For example, the opening scene of the game lets you control your skydiving Mii character with the Wii remote. We turned and twisted the remote, with our Mii mimicking our movements on-screen.
Table Tennis is surprisingly accurate — the game interprets top and back spin impressively and even allows you to fade the ball. Archery is another sport where MotionPlus shines; you'll be awed by the realistic feeling of pulling back on the bow.
It's perhaps the Frisbee game that displays MotionPlus' true potential. You'll have fun watching your Mii character with the 1:1 replication before you toss the disc. While it does take some getting used to, the simulation does a very accurate job of allowing you to aim and toss a Frisbee into a bull's-eyed area.
Not everything in Sports Resort shows off the capabilities of MotionPlus. The rehashed bowling game appears to have nothing more than a cosmetic overhaul.
As we touched on earlier, it is difficult to give Wii MotionPlus a buy/do-not-buy recommendation. While you may not love the way it feels in your hand, you'll be forced to use it if you want to play games like Wii Sports Resort and the upcoming Ubisoft sequel Red Steel 2.
At the end of the day, the value and innovation MotionPlus can potentially provide will lie in the hands of the developers who program for it. It appears the technology will open up a wide range of uses, so we'll just have to see how it is eventually applied.
Priced at AU$34.95, you'll most likely only feel the monetary burden should you choose to purchase additional units, since games like Wii Sports Resort come with the accessory bundled inside. However there is no denying, it does tack some cash onto the cost of owning a Wii, the console that is generally regarded as the most affordable to own.
Sure we'd like to see MotionPlus built-in to a new Wii remote, but Nintendo has yet to mention anything like that is in development.