Feature: A Look at Nyko’s Wand+

If you’re like me, you could care less what third party controller companies are coming out with, particularly on the Wii, due to the shoddy nature of how a number of them perform. Sure, they are usually cheaper in price, but I’ve gotten burned on them before to the point where I’d actually lose money because I had to replace the one that broke. It’s not just controllers either, I’ve cut corners on memory cards too and regretted it ever since. So imagine my skepticism when it came time to try out Nyko’s new Wand+. After all, since it’s an offbrand product, it can’t possibly match the quality of the official product, can it? I sought to find out.

Now the first task with any wireless device (besides wrestling with the packaging) is getting it synced up. This is the part that made me the most nervous, since if I couldn’t even get this working this would be a really short write up. Fortunately, the Wand+ and the Wii linked up without a hitch and it was time to get my game on.

One of the distinct features of the product besides having the Motion Plus technology built right into the remote (which I’ll get to later) is the use of rubber grips and the size of the buttons. The back side of the remote has a rubber backing, which makes it a little easier to grip the controller. Remember all the horror stories about Wiimotes slipping out of people’s hands and busting up their TV’s? Well, I didn’t want to try it myself to see if it was more difficult to make that happen, but the rubber backing does have a noticeable impact if your hands start to sweat. However, you should probably have the strap and jacket on (both included) if you’re going to playing a game like Wii Sports anyway, just so that particular scenario doesn’t happen.

Another thing you’ll notice is that the B button on the back seems to have this rubber material on it. I don’t play a lot of shooters on my Wii in the first place, but it is a more effective trigger than the official one since it is less likely that your finger will slip off of it amidst the chaos. Not to mention it’s comfortable too.

Some of the face buttons, besides being squared, are a little bit bigger in size. The A button as well as the 1 and 2 buttons are noticeably bigger and when you compare the two side by side, you begin to wonder why it wasn’t always like that. And in games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, they feel comfortable too, so the size doesn’t come at the cost of clunkiness. One thing that baffled me was the decision to also increase the size of the Home button on the middle of the remote. There was a reason that one was so small and hard to hit, and it was because you didn’t want people bringing up the menu on accident. The way it sits now, it seems more prone for that to happen, especially being nestled in between the much more utlized + and – buttons.

I took the Nyko Wand+ on a test run with several games, particularly Wii Sports Resort which utilizes the Wii Motion Plus technology the most. Whenever you begin the game, you are always asked to lay the device on a flat surface so it can sync properly, which this device is capable of doing without any sort of noticeable delay. The most impressive thing by far though is how well it works in comparison to Nintendo’s officially licensed controllers. The Wand+ was able to track my movements 1:1 as advertised and didn’t seem to have any issues losing calibration or anything like that. I even used the Wand+ and the official controller at the same time and they appeared to operate equally as well. For a third party controller, I was quite impressed.

I also gave the game a test run with titles such as ATV Fever and Mario Kart Wii just to see how the standard motion detection held up. Again, it behaved just like any other Wii controller both with and without the nunchuk attachment. My cynicism led me to believe I would go veering wildly out of control at the drop of a hat and this didn’t happen. Even the speaker quality on the controller was about the same, so they were even able to mimic the scratchiness of that.

So, with all my testing, the product seems to operate nearly the same as the real deal. The question now becomes, is it worth it? That depends. When the Wii Motion Plus first came out, the only way to utilize the technology was to buy the $20 peripheral for every controller you owned. And since the controllers were about $40 a pop, that came to a whopping $60. The Nyko Wand+ goes for about half that, which if you needed some extra controllers, is an insane price considering the quality of the product.

The thing is, Nintendo now has Wii remotes of their own which have the Motion Plus technology built in, which retail for the $40 price point that the old ones used to. Considering I’m not sure how well the product will perform in the long term, it’s hard to say if the small difference in price is still going to be worth it for most people. If you already have four controllers without the technology, then obviously you are going to buy the $20 attachment for each one that you want to use it with. If you are looking for an extra controller, particularly if you are looking for more than one, then the Nyko Wand+ is a viable option. You can currently purchase Nyko’s product for $29.99 versus Nintendo’s brand for $39.99 so you could buy four of the Wand+ to Nintendo’s three. If it were me buying that many remotes, I would probably go for the Wand+. If it were just one, I might hesitate a bit due to my lack of knowledge about the longevity of the product, but I might still pull the trigger on it. The bottom line is, I could recommend Nyko’s Wand+ as a less expensive alternative to Nintendo’s licensed Wii remote and feel good about it.



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