The Wiimote and Me: An Onerous Ode

Image by yum9me: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yum9me/2252122910/
Image by yum9me: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yum9me/2252122910/

I hate the Wiimote.

I know people have been saying it for several years, but now I’m saying it. I hate the Wiimote. I don’t hate the Wii, just the stupid remote and nunchuck controllers. I can’t stand them. And only just recently, I caved. Finally. I bought a Classic Controller. And it is good. Oh, so, very good. Now, I still have and will regularly use my favorite, purple Gamecube controller, but not all games accept it. Heck, not all games accept the Classic Controller, but many do, and it has drastically changed my feelings about our poor, neglected Wii.

I didn’t always feel this way, about the Wiimote that is.

When the Wii first came out, we were super skeptical about it. It was small and cute, with the funny “magic wand” that you waved at the screen to make stuff happen. It was novel. Though we weren’t early adopters, we were still very curious about its motion sensing technology and how that affected gameplay. I remember trying out the Wii every chance I got once it started appearing in stores. When the system worked, it was actually pretty great. I recall waiting with a small crowd at Circuit City to “hit” a few Wii Sports baseballs during the time when Wii was very scarce. And once our skepticism had eroded, we eventually bought one.

And it was fun. No, I mean it. Really fun!

We had a tiny apartment back then, with barely 3 feet between the TV and the couch. We didn’t think much about not having enough space. After hooking up the console, it took a bit for us to find just the right spot for the sensor bar. But once we did, it was like magic. We played lots of rounds of Wii bowling and tennis (my favorites of the Wii Sports games), only managing to whack each other occasionally as we flailed about. (It was only a matter of time, though, before we figured out that you didn’t have to flail in order to use the Wiimote). Still, a good time was had by all. I even remember showing it to my parents and playing a few futile games of boxing before they concluded the Wii was quite a “marvelous device.”

But then, we started using the system to play real games, namely Super Mario Galaxy and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. For the record, I never finished either of them. I blame the Wiimote. Okay, and I also blame the wonky set-up we did with the Wii after we moved into a different apartment. We just really didn’t have the proper space. The TV was up on a dresser, making the sensor bar very high compared to us players down on the ground, and it never properly detected the Wiimote. The set-up was made worse by outside glare and uncomfortable seating. Add to that my discovery of Mass Effect, and that was that. Our little Wii fell into disuse. And I didn’t think twice about those Wiimotes while I was off saving the galaxy.

It was couple years before I began using the Wii regularly with the release of Epic Mickey. And I was back in love…

…almost.

This time round, in yet a different apartment, our set-up was as good as it got. There was plenty of space between us and the TV, and the sensor bar was in a perfectly reasonable location. I really enjoyed using the Wiimote to paint the town green and blue, but at times, it was really inaccurate. I mean, like, I’d point at the right side of the screen and see the cursor on the screen, but for some reason the paint ended up everywhere except where the cursor appeared.  It was annoying and frustrating and just plain silly. Oh, I stuck with it through the whole game, but there was certainly more than one time that I wanted to fling that Wiimote and stupid nunchuck down the stairs. After Epic Mickey, the Wii sat, once again, for a long time unused.

We then moved once more, our last move for awhile assuredly. And in our new house we found the perfect spot for the Wii. A few tests proved that the set-up was the most perfect ever. So then the motion gaming happily commenced, right? Nope. Tainted by my prior experiences with the Wiimote, I instead purchased a bunch of old games through the Wii Shop. I pulled out my trusty, purple, Gamecube controller, and I was in heaven. Until one day I decided that it was about time to give the Wii and the Wiimote another chance, their final chance as far as I was concerned. So I rented The Last Story. Using the Wiimote with that game was not the worst thing in the world. The controls were pretty simple though they took some getting used to. In retrospect however, how I wish I had bought the Classic Controller earlier — it would have save me several button-related headaches throughout the game.

Then I moved onto other games; the two in my sites were Lego Batman 2 and Epic Mickey 2, both of which were (and still are) available on all systems. But I gave the Wii and its motes and its nunchucks the benefit of the doubt. Results? No and almost no. I found Lego Batman 2 to be my worst Wiimote experience yet, and I’m about the throw in the towel in Epic Mickey 2. “It can’t be that bad,” you say? Oh my friends, it is bad in the worse kind of way. Part of my extreme unhappiness is due to the game itself, its controls and mechanics; but a sizable amount of frowns can be chalked up to the Wiimote. It’s mainly due to the button layout, which never seemed to bother me before, but I now despise with Epic Mickey 2. I have to finish the game, I really do — but every time I pass the docile Wiimote sitting smugly in its charger, I just want to bury in deep in the backyard and hope it grows into something useful.

That didn’t make a lick of sense, I know, but that’s how mad the Wiimote makes me right now. In fact, now I’m so angry I need to take a nap.

Do you harbor ill feelings about a controller that are so strong it wears you out just thinking about it?

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Hatm0nster says:

    While I love most of the games I have for the Wii, I havent been able to bring myself to play any of them past the initial playthrough. All because of the forced inclusion of motion controls via the Wiimote.

    It just irks me that I have to control a game using an awkward, annoying method, when theres a much more intuitive and friendly method being ignored simply for the sake of being “innovative”. Vaguely miming actions does not make old gaming conventions like swinging a sword feel new, it just makes them more complicated, drawn out and annoying.

    If it werent for the wiimote and the motion controls it forces on us, I know I would have gotten more use out of my Wii.

    Like

    1. cary says:

      Absolutely. I don’t mind the idea of motion control, when it works. Silly us, we thought things might be better with the Kinect…it isn’t.

      Like

  2. Hmmm… As you may know, I am European and so Nintendo only really got big round these parts with the release of the Nintendo 64. Hilariously, before the 64, Sega was a bit of a market leader in the 8 and 16-bit era before oddly collapsing with the early release of the Sega Saturn at the start of the 32/64-bit console wars.

    It always confused me because playing on my friend’s 64’s I found a lot of the games to be clunky and unmanageable completely due to the turgid, brittle boomerang we were supposed to use to control the games with. Coming from the frankly gorgeous Sega Saturn controller (and even the analog “NiGHTS” controller), I found I never had the connection with games like Goldeneye, Perfect Dark and Banjo Kazooie that a lot of other people cling on to to this day. ESPECIALLY in the case of the Turok games, Goldeneye and Perfect Dark, the Nintendo 64 controller was a hand-crippling method of controlling those games.
    What I discovered later on when I was a bit of a collector of old consoles, was that this rule didn’t apply to the Nintendo 1st party games. Games like Super Mario 64 or Zelda: Ocarina Of Time only ‘feel’ correct when played using that flimsy hand destroying monstrosity of a controller and I feel, really prove that Nintendo design their games specifically around the hardware they are going to be played on…
    As such, third party games suffer on Nintendo hardware.

    The Wii as such feels like a bit of a call-back to the ’64 days – Third party companies seeing a photo of the Wiimote, swearing under their breath and then having to crowbar in motion control “elements” to games that probably would have worked better without them.
    Elsewhere the idea of playing Mario Galaxy 1 or 2, or Zelda: Skyward Sword which are all magical must-play games in my humble opinion just wouldn’t be right at all without that odd Wiimote/Nunchuck combo.

    I did however really enjoy the way Suda-51’s ‘No More Heroes’ games deftly mocked the motion-controls, the player for engaging in them and the Wiimote itself, while providing a fun game at the same time. He deserves more credit for that masterful bit of direction there…

    Now of course the Wii-U gives you a whole tablet computer to chuck down the stairs, so you can hear a really satisfying crunch when you lose your temper with Scribblenauts Unlimited and one of the other 2 or 3 games that exist for that console…

    Apologies for responding to your article with one of my own! At least you can probably tell I enjoyed reading it! 🙂

    Like

    1. cary says:

      Y’know, No More Heroes is hanging out in my Gamefly queue, waiting for the day when I have more than a few hours to spare. I know it’s supposed to be one of the Wii’s better 3rd party titles. If Epic Mickey 2 really goes south, No More Heroes might see its day sooner rather than later! I like the point you make about the Wiimote working well with Nintendo’s won titles – makes sense given their personal push for motion gaming.

      I know exactly what you mean about the N64 controller, but I don’t know that I ever chalked up my issues to the controller itself! I had an awful time playing Turok and other first-person perspective games on the N64 – I just figured I was a terrible player, but it totally makes sense that the controller was not made with games like that in mind. I love playing the occasional level in Mario 64 on the Wii using the Gamecube controller – the hand placement is just so much better than dealing with the N64’s, er, “third leg.” :/

      Like

  3. duckofindeed says:

    I don’t have as many angry thoughts about the Wiimote. Sure, I’d much rather play with a normal controller, but it could make some games more interesting. Some games used the controller well, and it made those games fun to control because the Wiimote let you do unique things you couldn’t with a regular controller.
    But, I didn’t like when games made bad use of it, like this “Spyro” game that let you either press buttons to attack or swing the controller. Swinging a stick around in no way replicates Spyro headbutting people, and pressing the buttons seemed to make him attack faster, so I just used the buttons.
    And yes, it is innaccurate. This brought about lots of frustration with “Okami”, which wanted me to draw stuff with the remote. I’m supposed to draw a circle, and I do, but somehow it’s wrong. It looks like a circle to me, but the game won’t accept it. So I try over and over and over again until I’m just angry.
    And then in “Skyward Sword”, you use the more accurate Plus remote. It is more sensitive, and you have finer controls over what it does, but it always gets off-center. I’m aiming at the screen, and Link is aiming everything way off to the side. I do this little thing to synch it up again, and then a little while later, I’m aiming way right to make things go straight. And I almost couldn’t save the game sometimes because the cursor wouldn’t appear on the screen. I’d wave the remote around until it would finally pop on and let me point at stuff. So anyway, the Wiimote is okay, but it can be a pain sometimes.

    Like

    1. cary says:

      I really want to play Okami, but I’ve heard terrible stories of frustration concerning the drawing in it. We pay good money to use these lovely gaming contraptions, so shouldn’t they work all or most of the time? In Epic Mickey 2, there’s supposed be a move you can do using the nunchuck, but I can never, ever get it to work. And it really bugs me especially when the game forces it — a scene that should taken 3 minutes takes 30 minutes and I end up with pain in my wrist. There’s no fun in that and it’s rather ridiculous.

      And I’m going to keep saying it till it comes true, but I AM gonna play Skyward Sword SOMEDAY! At this point it’s like a life goal or something.

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      1. Hatm0nster says:

        If you’re going to play Okami, I recommend tracking down the PS2 version. Never had an issue with the drawing in it.

        Like

  4. simpleek says:

    I have this issue with the Ghost Busters game for the Wii. Controls are terrible on the Wiimote, and the camera mechanics in the game is God awful. The game is fun, but I hate how you use the Wiimote to play it. I can relate really well with your plight against the Wiimote.

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    1. cary says:

      Oh, I’ve played Ghostbusters on the PS3, and the controls there weren’t very good — I can only imagine what it’s like playing the game on the Wii! You have my condolences. 😉

      Like

      1. Hatm0nster says:

        Controls aside, Ghostbusters was a fun little nostalgia trip. Even without Bill Murray 😦 …

        Like

  5. Walters says:

    Yeah, nope. Just don’t see it:

    namely Super Mario Galaxy and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. For the record, I never finished either of them. I blame the Wiimote.

    How…interesting. I did 😀

    I don’t know how you couldn’t get used to the Wiimote, but it seems to depend on the person using it. Oh, and definitely where it’s set up too 😉 What this reads as the Wiimote is something you just couldn’t get used to — and decided it was finally time to vent your frustrations out on it…at least 2 yrs too late.

    Like

    1. cary says:

      Yes, I’ve been holding in my anger for awhile now, but I’ve been trying to give the Wiimote the benefit of the doubt. Honesty, it wasn’t until I started trying Wii games with the Classic Controller — those that accepted it — that I really took notice of the Wiimote’s flaws. But it’s very good at some things, like being a motion controller. But I think it requires patience and flexibility to get used to…and you must have had more of both than me! 🙂 Someday I’ll make my way through Twilight Princess and Super Mario Galaxy. I don’t think they’ll make me *like* the Wiimote as much as learn to tolerate it’s bad points along with the good.

      Like

      1. Hatm0nster says:

        The Wimmote was something that caused frustrations, but I did my best to ignore them because I didn’t want to think of myself as someone stuck in the past. Every hardware developer was saying that motion controls were the future and the media (along with my friends and even myself at times) said that Nintendo’s method was best.

        It really came down to realizing that the method really did not work as well. It just doesn’t. My opinion is that motion controls won’t have a place in gaming until it’s a requirement rather than just an option.

        Like

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