Wii MotionPlus - Add-On Review

Wii MotionPlus
Nintendo

[Update: Sometime after Nintendo released the MotionPlus, they started selling a Wii remote that included MotionPlus technology. The MotionPlus still works fine, and probably cheap if you found one for sale, but A Wii Remote Plus is a better choice.]

The traditional Wii-mote had a fairly limited ability to broadcast where it was in space, so Nintendo has created the MotionPlus, an attachable add-on for the Wii remote that gives the Wii more information on the remote’s movements.

The Basics: What It Does

The MotionPlus contains a gyroscope that sends out rotational information, and this combined with the Wii remote’s accelerometer (which indicates direction and speed) tells the console almost exactly what the remote is doing.

The results can be seen most clearly in Wii Sports Resort, a mini-game collection which Nintendo designed specifically to show off the capabilities of the MotionPlus. Resort can tell the exact angle of a virtual ping pong paddle and can use the remote to accurately aim an arrow from a virtual bow. This means the small, somewhat random movements that will work in other Wii games aren’t good enough; the need to move realistically has finally forced me to use the remote’s wrist strap.

A few non-Nintendo games are also MotionPlus compatible. The most notable is Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10. Since you can play that game with or without the MotionPlus, it allows for a direct comparison of the two, and the difference is striking. With the MotionPlus, the game registers every small movement, sees exactly how far you move your virtual club and takes into account the exact angle of that club.

Some Reservations

Accuracy doesn’t necessarily make games more fun - swinging your remote to hit the ball was already fun - but it does something just as important: it makes the game less frustrating. You no longer feel that you are battling the remote for supremacy over your game.

Unfortunately, you will still have to battle with the remote for games that aren’t MotionPlus enabled; Tenchu: Shadow Assassins refusal to recognize a forward thrust will never change, because the game was made before the advent of this new technology. Most games will make no use of the MotionPlus since there are plenty of Wii owners who don’t have one.

MotionPlus cannot be used with some third-party add-ons. Wireless nunchucks, for example, communicate with the remote via a device that plugs into the Nunchuk port. The MotionPlus plugs into that port as well. While the device has a port of its own into which you can plug the Nunchuk, that port is positioned differently than on the remote, which makes it incompatible with some devices. It might be possible to plug some dongles into the MotionPlus anyway if not for these weird, seemingly extraneous plastic knobs on its bottom.

Conclusion: Yes, You Really Do Need This

At its best, the MotionPlus can be seen as the thing that completes the Wii revolution, allowing players the level of control they erroneously expected from the beginning.

Should you buy the MotionPlus? That depends on what you think of the current MotionPlus games. If you like sports mini-games then Wii Sports Resort is well worth buying, and if you’re a golf fan you’ll want the latest Tiger Woods game bundled with the MotionPlus. If neither of these appeals to you, then there is no need to rush out and get a MotionPlus.

[Update: that turned out to be wishful thinking since it was only used for a handful of games before Nintendo stopped making Wiis. Still, those games were quite good.]