Embrace the Wiimote: the genre-breaking Nintendo Wii Controller that defined a generation

How often have you heard a game critic or industry insider say that as a company, Nintendo “marches to the beat of their own drum”? Never has this statement been more true than in November of 2006, when amidst tumultuous time and waning sales, Nintendo swiftly revitalized itself by launching one of the best-selling consoles in history—the Nintendo Wii. At the very heart of the console was its revolutionary new controller design that would attract a huge new generation of gamers across all ages. Abandoning traditional gamepad design almost entirely, Nintendo instead introduced the one-handed, remote control-like motion wand known as the Wii Remote, or “Wiimote” for short.

What is a Wiimote?

The Wiimote is a motion-sensing game controller that connects wirelessly to Nintendo Wii and Wii U consoles. While the Wiimote does feature traditional inputs such as a directional pad and A/B buttons, it is generally intended to be held vertically in one hand. Games that utilize the Wiimote’s motion sensing technology are designed to play specifically with this configuration. For other games that do not rely on motion controls (or that give players the option whether or not to use motion controls), the Wiimote can also be held horizontally in two hands in the manner of a traditional game pad. By utilizing an accelerometer and a motion sensor bar in tandem, the player’s physical movement of the controller becomes its primary mode of input

Other features of the Wiimote include a dedicated speaker for additional audio and sound cues, as well as rumble (vibration) functionality that enables force feedback. Every Wiimote also comes with a detachable wrist strap, which is intended to be worn when playing motion games in order to prevent the controller from slipping out of the player’s hand.

Since they are wireless, Wiimotes are powered by two AA batteries. There are also a number of kits and rechargeable battery packs that can be purchased used in conjunction with the Wiimote in place of disposable batteries.

Wiimote attachments and accessories

The Wiimote features an expansion port at the base of the controller, through which a number of accessories can be connected. The most common is the Wii Nunchuk controller. This accessory expands the functionality of the Wiimote by adding a directional joystick as well as additional trigger buttons. The Wii Nunchuk attachment is necessary in order to play some of the most popular games on the Wii, including Super Mario Galaxy and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

Another popular accessory is the Wii MotionPlus, an expansion device that greatly improves the Wii’s accelerometer and motion sensing capabilities. The WiiMotion Plus also has another expansion port located at the base, so adding one does not render the Wiimote’s port inaccessible for accessories such as the Wii Nunchuk. Furthermore, newer models of the Wiimote have the MotionPlus technology built in without the need for an expansion device.

Other accessories do not require use of the expansion port, but instead often serve as a stylized prop to house the Wiimote. These include a steering wheel (perfect for racing games such as Mario Kart Wii), a zapper-style gun, and a number of sports-related accessories such as a tennis racket, baseball bat, and hockey stick.

Other types of Wii controllers

The expansion port at the bottom of the Wiimote also allows for other types of controllers to be connected, with the Wiimote acting as a wireless hub. Additional controller options include the throwback Nintendo Gamecube controller, which is especially popular among players of the Wii classic Super Smash Bros. Brawl. There is also the Wii Classic Controller, which mimics the design of Nintendo’s earliest consoles and is perfect for playing classic titles via the Virtual Console, as well as the Wii Classic Controller Pro, which resembles the modern dual-stick design today’s gamers are most familiar with.<

Wiimotes and other Nintendo Wii controllers also come in a huge variety of colours and designs. They are available in first party models manufactured by Nintendo directly, as well as a number of third party options from other manufacturers. Third party products are often more economical, but frequently at the cost of the level of quality inherent to a genuine Nintendo product.

Wii controller compatibility

The Wiimote accessories, and other Wii controllers are compatible across both the Nintendo Wii platform as well as Nintendo’s follow-up console, the Nintendo Wii U. However, Nintendo Wii controllers and accessories are not compatible with Nintendo’s newest home console, the Nintendo Switch.