E3 06: Nintendo Wii Controller Hands-On

We try out the latest iteration of Nintendo's unique controller.

LOS ANGELES--With Nintendo's Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference and the show itself looming, we had the opportunity to pop by the company's booth and try out the Wii. During our brief time, we tried out a variety of first-party titles to get a practical feel for just how the unique controller is going to work. Though you'll find our impressions of the five titles we played, Wii Sports: Tennis, Excite Truck, WarioWare: Smooth Moves, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess elsewhere, we wanted to offer a quick run through of just how the controller feels and how it's changed since we last saw it.

Before we start, we should note that during our play session Nintendo reps noted that the controller we were playing was still considered a prototype, as the possibility for some fine-tuning still existed. That said, the controller we got our hands on wasn't too radically different from what we tried last year at the Tokyo Game Show, though there have been some noticeable tweaks to the design. The most radical is the addition of a speaker that rests just below the three buttons that divide the controller in half. The small speaker came into play during the Legend of Zelda fishing sequence we played and complemented its built-in rumble during the parts of the demo where we reeled in our catch, as it emitted the sound of a reel turning. This addition has resulted in the controller being a bit longer to accommodate the new feature.

The other more subtle differences revolve around the names for the buttons. The main button on the face of the unit is still named A, and the trigger button on the underside is still named B. The vertical row of buttons has seen some tweaks that differ from the official controller images Nintendo released during TGS, though. The first button, seen in photos to be named "select," now has the image of an arrow on it that's curved counterclockwise, similar to those seen in the refresh icon on a web browser. The second button, labeled "home" in official images, now has the image of a house on it, similar to one you'd see in a Web browser. The third button, originally labeled "start," now has two horizontal bars on it that look like the "pause" icon on a music or movie player. Nintendo displayed an image of the controller with different button icons during its E3 2006 press conference, with a minus sign on the left button, the same house icon on the middle button, and a plus sign on the right button. Below these three buttons and past the speaker are the two buttons that have been alternately labeled lowercase a and b or 1 and 2 on the controller variants we've seen in the past. The controller we tried at E3 had the 1 and 2 buttons.

The second part of the controller, the analog attachment that goes by the "nunchaku" moniker, had a more streamlined shape and featured a tweaked button design. The two shoulder buttons, named Z1 and Z2 respectively, have also been reshaped and renamed since we last saw them at the Game Developers Conference a few months ago. The top shoulder button, now called C, is a good deal smaller than the lower shoulder button, now called Z. The C button was oval shaped, while the Z button was a more traditional square.

Though Nintendo still considered the units we were using to be prototypes, we reckon they gave a pretty good sense of the unit's heft. The controllers we had in our hands at the Tokyo Game Show were wired and weighed almost nothing. The wireless prototypes have a decent heft to them now, though. They use AA batteries, which will further add to the weight. At the moment, the main controller feels about as heavy as a Nintendo DS. The nunchaku weighs about as much as a cell phone. Holding both units in either hand feels fine, and the buttons are easy to reach.

We expect it will take time before our fingers get used to the controller's unique landscape and feel totally comfortable sliding around hitting buttons, but so far the controller feels good. The only thing we noticed was that you may find yourself gripping the main controller a little too tightly at first while playing. We reckon this will be an unconscious thing in much the same way most people playing a racing game will lean into turns without thinking or grip their controllers in a vicelike grip when walking around the sky stage in a Mario game. We have to hand it to Nintendo: despite the Wii controller's unorthodox appearance, the thing is dead easy to pick up and play.

So there you have it. Though we'll again note that Nintendo reps stated the controllers we played were prototypes, we expect that the final units will be pretty close to what we tried. Though we expect there will be tweaking, much like the DS underwent following our first look at E3 two years ago, we have to say that Nintendo has managed to create a controller that's poised to revolutionize how games are played.

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Discussion

222 comments
BAJennings
BAJennings

I can't wait for the Wii to come out. I love playing games with groups of people, and this Wii controller looks like it may enhance the experience and fun.

Stalingrad44
Stalingrad44

Those that say "the PS3 has everything the other consoles have plus more!" are wrong. Those that say "the PS3 controler is far better than the Wii controler" are wrong too. The PS3 controler has nowhere near the capabilities of the Wii controler. The PS3 controler has 6 degrees of motion...The guy even says it at E3. The Wii-mote has 360 degrees of motion. Also, you can't say the PS3 will be amazing because al of their footage for games is CGI. The PS3 is not worth 100$ - 200$ more than a 360 for the possiblity of slightly shiner graphics. Wii is somethinng new, something different, something everyone should want because it'll be cheap and offers a much more exciting and different alternative to 360 and PS3. I have a 360, great console....Wii will be incredible too and come out on top this time...

coaten
coaten

it is going to be great! Can't wate for metroid prime 3, i am buying a Wii. Wish the name was revilution but i still going to buy it!

mgsseries4life
mgsseries4life

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

shasty963
shasty963

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

i_love_my_ds
i_love_my_ds

this controller is, at least, 100 times better than any other controller releases in the next-generation. there's no question about it.

waytoomuch
waytoomuch

heI just realized something, nintendo really have to release an sequel to mario paint (snes), to be able to use the laser pointer on the screen as a paint brush...I cant wait:)

mgsseries4life
mgsseries4life

who cares who copied who, just move on and buy the console that can offer what all the copititors can plus better things like the PS3...

coleorionjordan
coleorionjordan

I forgot to mention, Sony had been using the same controller over and over. Seems that Microsoft is going for the same thing.

coleorionjordan
coleorionjordan

Sony and Microsoft have been copying Nintendo since they started (except Sony's first controller, the one without the analog sticks). Both Microsoft and Sony copied the analog sticks, rumble features, and now Sony even copied Nintendo's motion sensor. The only difference is that they only make the graphics for their console better. About the Wii name. I personally find it is better than naming a console Playstation, Playstation 2, and finally Playstation 3. Then there is Xbox, Xbox 360. To the contrary of common belief, naming big things isn't easy, for usually, you want something that stands out. PS 1-3 gets boring. Can't say as much for Microsoft, since they only made 2 consoles. Nintendo has been carving the gaming market since the beginning, and Sony and Microsoft have been chugging on that road. If they want to really succeed, then they should carve their own path, but that'll prove to be difficult, since Nintendo has pretty much used up every idea. Then there is the graphics thing. Sony and Microsoft have a bigger budget for the graphic capabilities, since they don't only sell gaming systems. If they completely fail in the gaming industry (it's coming Cows and Lemmings), then they can still survive with their other products. I think that pretty much sums it up.

mgsseries4life
mgsseries4life

PS3 OWNS man!! Look at the graphics, look at the games, look at the features!! now with Sony's new controler, there's no need to buy a Wii, i think u Sonyf or giving us all what the other consoles have and more in one console, the PS3!!!

elementfx
elementfx

This excites me, and Nintendo had the best conference. It would sure show some of my friends if nintendo comes out on top this year.

lancetimes9
lancetimes9

Wow, the blatant stupidity of 'Legend_Maker' hurts my brain. Anyway, I wonder if you'll be able to turn up or down the volume of the speaker on the remote?

Dextress
Dextress

Does anyone know how long the AA batteries will last?

legend_maker
legend_maker

wow nintendo sucks... ps3!! all the way!! nintendo is stupid fo naming their system Wii, i laugh so much everytime i hear it, because it is too stupid. Wii will loose to ps3, why because of games, ps3 already have too many amazing games in development.. Wii has like 3 or 4 decent games.. but wow Wii sounds so dumb

bxgt
bxgt

wii is gonna own

GamerJimE
GamerJimE

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

GamerJimE
GamerJimE

Nintendo has lots of 3rd party support this time around baby!!!!!!!!!!

AnGeLiz0r
AnGeLiz0r

Also, one more thing, about porting a game from the Wii to the PS3, how easy do you really think that would be, its not a simple matter, it is like porting a DS game to the PSP, there is so many different factors involved, including the graphics, controls, hardware it is run on etc.

LordBrittish
LordBrittish

"nintendo is still for kids and MS and Sony are still for serious gamers." I'm a big manly man that needs manly blood and gore with loads of **** and **** and **** and stuff! Look how big kingrepublican's penis is!!

AnGeLiz0r
AnGeLiz0r

As for this thing about the PS3 coping the best part of the Wii so there will be no need to buy one is just crap, yes the PS3 has (of course, its what they do,even with the ps1 they copied ninty's anolgue stick) stolen a part of the controller, but all they have got is the tilt sensitivity, in that when you turn/tilt the controller it is like a steering wheel (like warioware on the gba). Now the Wii STILL have the actual full 360 degree pointer, that is used e.g. for the moving the gun in a FPS, now tilt sensitivity just cannot do anything like that at all, peope using the ps3 would still need to use the anologue stick, So people who think that sony have stolen the best bit of the Wii think again, the Wii still has the tilt sensor, but it also has a whole lot more than that going for it, including the pointer. This also proves that sony are god dam useless! and they cant dam well do anything by themselves and its just so crap, i mean really! Also some people have been saying that the controller wont work after a while, when have you heard of a nintendo console/controller having a serious problem, sony on the other hand....god dam it, there playstations 1 & 2 are riddled with problems (mains plug adapters not working, disc read errors, lasers packing in, playstation 1's only working on there side, then not at all etc.)

kingrepublican
kingrepublican

Nintendo will still finish last. Mario is not enough to carry them. With GTA and Halo Nintendo can't compete. The controller is more of a novelty. Nintendo is tring to cover up for their weak graphics. Reggie himself yesterday said it was about the feel not the look. I may buy a wii for my kids as I already have a 360. With GTA and smackdown on 360 there is no need to buy a PS3 plus sony is going to continue to release ps2 games. nintendo is still for kids and MS and Sony are still for serious gamers.

LordBrittish
LordBrittish

I am very VERY excited about E3 this Year. I have to admit, I'm a damn sheep and I love my nintendo. I really want to see another NES-type revolution and I have sooo much respect for the company. Nintendo always has solid-high quality products. They never skimp on the good stuff. Nintendo is known for having their systems work forever and their hardware is built rugged and Tough. They are innovative and have a strong passion for the gaming world. NINTENDO IS GAMING AND ONLY GAMING. They don't sell Tv's and computers and Mp3 players and Laptops and all that crap you see on the market these days. They sell video games and only video games. You can see that their passion is there and always has been. Isn't it amazing that They are on Sony and MS's level yet they don't sell even 1/32 of the variety of products that they sell? Isn't great that these huge giants like Sony and MS are in hear of Nintendo and their 100% gaming empire? Another thing that just makes me feel closer and more reliative to Nintendo and their efforts to better the gaming world is Myamato(sp?). He's so damn goofy and funny and Excited all the time. If I could meet anyone in the world it would be him. He has a passion and a god givin talent that nobody else has. That's why everyone fears Nintendo's top franchises. Another thing is the fact that nintendo has morals and for some reason everyone hates them for that. I hate the fact that you have to have Blood and violence. Sex and bad language to make sales these day. You've got to respect nintendo for their HARDCORE stance on not conforming and standing up for their morals and not giving in for Money. It's all about the respect. What are you going to respect MS for? Their zillions of dollars and trying to stomp out little nintendo in the gaming market they created? Are you going to Respect Sony for trying to take over every aspect of the digital world while at the same time changing gaming for the worst? It used to be all about Solving puzzels and high punch low punch, finishing moves, and finding the master sword. Now it's about storage capacities, format Mediums, Mp3 playing, HD support and, worst of all, Money. It's all about some cash isn't it? I read something sad earlier. Somebody trying to justify Sony's blatent rip off with their "Six-degree" controller crap. They said " Quit whining, Sony did what was smart. They took out nintendo by creating their own motion sensitive controller. Now they make loads more money and are on top of the gaming market. " What a grand display of a typical Human lack of compassion. " It's all about the money, who cares who we rip off in the long run. " Long live Nintendo. Sony and MS, keep your penis envy over in the TV and Computers. Stay out of games and leave it to the people who know how to do it.

blackjack89
blackjack89

NINTENDO simple the best game achievers in this world. they come up with new original ideas and dont slide off of other ones. this trully will be the best!

kingrepublican
kingrepublican

Yet the graphics still look worse than GC. other than Zelda all the games look like they were made for the n64.

Marcofig
Marcofig

Yeahhh baby The Big N is back...

divb
divb

Wow! What a controller. I just noticed this: I see pictures of the system all the time but there was never a controller!

markshell
markshell

Everybody wants to put their hands on a wii wand now. Including me. GIVE ME!

jswaim
jswaim

must play let me have give me your wii

PiMacleod_basic
PiMacleod_basic

Hmm...it seems to me that the 360 is going to be the struggling system this time around. Sony (although I hate what they did) played it smart. They KNEW that Nintendo was in for TONS of exclusive titles with their new system, so they went and put a motion-sensor in the controller. Now, if the price is right, ports can be made to Sony as well. MS don't have that. And I haven't seen graphics like the PS3s on the 360 yet (even though I own one!). If MS doesn't do something, quick, they might just get booted out! Halo can only do SO much...unless they start just pumping out titles with the Halo name on it, just to make money. :roll: I can't wait to get my Wii, though. Half price of PS3, TWO motion sensors (not one), speaker-in-controller, more types of controllers....more options all around! I can buy a Wii, another controller, and 2 games, yet still not have paid as much as I would for just a PS3. Nintendo's got 1st place, in my book.

Tsuchikage
Tsuchikage

The controller looks great. Nintendo made a believer out of me at their pre-E3 conference.

OriginalSenn
OriginalSenn

I'll never understand what people see in that internet connection crap for PS3. I already shelled out 600 bucks for a computer to do that stuff. Why do I need my video game system to do it too? It's nice to see that Nintendo is actually ahead of the curve. It's been awhile.

Chebwa
Chebwa

SuCuBuS_04: "wow this sounds soo cwl, im goin 2 use my Uni grant money 2 buy 1" I pray, pray pray to God that was a joke.

joedvb
joedvb

I hope the controller will come will re-chargeable batteries. can you imagine it cutting out in the middle of a boss fight with bowser only to find you've run out of the AAs?!?

Retman
Retman

Sweet i can't wait for the Nintendo Wii it has had so much talk because of its controller and Games.

BlazeDragon132
BlazeDragon132

Agreed. Today's game dont cut it for me. What it needs is innovation. That is what got me into the DS, innovation! I am not going for PS3 (Prices, I can wait till it drops) and 360 (It sucks, period). Wii is going to be my next system!

Lippy
Lippy

The mouse is what gives PC games so much finer control. The mouse is only control on a two dimensional plane. With the wii remotes it's three dimensional control with pitch, yaw, and roll as well. And that's one multibutton 3d controller in each hand. That's some serious control. Now we just need to see some more games that really push them to the limit.

anamnawshad
anamnawshad

Go Nintendo! Own teh $ony copycats........ :lol:

ElmntEarth4Life
ElmntEarth4Life

Yeah, everything sounds good here!! I'm just hoping for a rechargable battery pack, and maybe shave a couple inches off

scootergomoo
scootergomoo

Seeing "We have to hand it to Nintendo: despite the Wii controller's unorthodox appearance, the thing is dead easy to pick up and play" from GameSpot really made my day. It feels good to hear some confirmation about the controller. I can't wait!