Iíve never doubted Nintendo as a maker of quality hardware. All my original Wiimotes still work great, and the Wii MotionPlus I have works fine as well. Whatís become annoying to me, however, is all the extra stuff I have to take off or plug in to play whatever game I feel like playing. First, there are the afterthought silicon sleeves that I really dislike and are atrocious for playing games with the controller turned sideways. Then comes the MotionPlus, confined in yet a separate rubber sleeve that just looks terrible if you free the dongle from its polymer prison. Nykoís Wand+ tries to make the situation more streamlined by sticking the entire MotionPlus addition into a Wiimote-sized controller. Minimizing the form factor is certainly attractive, but was Nyko able to replicate the same level of precision as the first party controller?
Included in the purchase price are a Wand+, Wrist Strap, 2 AA batteries, and a rubber sleeve. While including batteries is great to get players started, these batteries ran out of juice after about four hours of playtime. Thatís not really an issue for me, as I use rechargeable batteries anyway and the controller gets plenty of life from those. (I didnít actually time the battery life, but it was comparable to what I typically see with the same batteries in other Wii Controllers.) The silicon sleeve included is very similar to the official Nintendo sleeve. For me, itís meant to be set aside and never used. I really donít see the need for these sleeves, especially since the Wand+ already has a great exterior finish. The controller is entirely coated in a matte rubber material that provides nice grip and isnít as hard or glossy as the original Wiimote.
Looking at the controller, I was worried that the square buttons would be weird becauseÖ well, square buttons are weird. Turns out, once I started playing with them, I really didnít notice the shape. Since the corners of the buttons are rounded, they feel similar to circular buttons, but offer up more thumb real estate than the tiny buttons found on the original Wiimotes. Depressing the buttons feels very similar to the original controller, although the + and Ė buttons are slightly more mushy. The D-Padís unconventional design also proved not to be an issue as I played through some of Metroid: Other M and Bit.Trip Runner without any problems in control. In fact, I think I prefer this D-Pad to Nintendoís, as it doesnít extend out of the controller quite as much and I like the larger surface area it offers.
As far as motion-controls go, I couldnít discern a difference between the Wand+ and an official Wiimote. That concept held true for whether I was using it in standard Wii games like Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Guilty Party or in a MotionPlus game like Wii Sports Resort. I also tried inserting it into the array of plastic accessories I had, and it fit into a Wii Zapper and a Nyko Perfect Shot without a hitch. Really, the only negatives Iíve found after using the Wand+ for two weeks is that the buttons arenít as visually appealing as an official Wii Controller. What Iíve also found though, is that besides plugging in a Nunchuk or Classic Controller, I havenít had to wrangle with any rubber when replacing batteries or alternating between games with varying controller orientations.
At $40, the Wand+ comes in at the same price as a standard Wiimote, but offers all the benefits that the $20 Wii MotionPlus add-on provides without all the extra bulk. The matte finish feels high quality and I just canít say enough about it eliminating the cumbersome switching of accessories. If youíre in the market for another Wii Controller and find the all-in-one, minimal form factor as appealing as I do, Iíd definitely give this controller a look. I know when I go to play a Wii game Ė no matter the control scheme - the Wand+ is now the controller I reach for.
Outstanding | Very Good | Fair | Poor | Awful
Recommended Buy Price: $35.00
Current MSRP: $39.99
The Wand+ was provided for review by Nyko. Iíve played the following games with it over the course of two weeks and about fifteen hours of playtime: Bit.Trip Runner, Disney Guilty Party, The Lord of the Rings: Aragornís Quest, Metroid: Other M, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Wii Sports Resort. Nyko's Wand+ is also available in solid gray and white & black two-toned varieties.