Gaming & Technology

New Wii accessory enhances remote's functionality

LOS ANGELES — There's nothing all that charming about Nintendo's new gadget.

It's not as zany as a zapper or as sexy as a steering wheel. It doesn't even tell you whether you're losing weight.

However, the game maker is hoping that a small cube-shaped device called Wii MotionPlus will take its Wii's motion- sensing controls to a new level of precision.

It's no secret that the wrist-flicking Wii Remote's lack of accuracy has long been the console's clunky downfall. The Wii MotionPlus, available June 8 for $19.99, successfully defeats that problem by using gyroscopic sensors to exactly mimic gamers' hand movements, making such activities as sword-fighting, disc-throwing and golfing look seamless on screen.

"The great thing about this particular new technology, which isn't always true for other new technologies, is that we immediately saw the benefits of it," said Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 senior producer Jason Shenkman. "Before I even touched it or got my hands on it, I knew exactly what having a gyroscope in our possession would do for this game."

Electronic Arts' Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 will be the first game bundled with the Wii MotionPlus. Shenkman insists that the increased sensitivity doesn't boost difficulty because instant feedback helps gamers before their shots.

Nintendo has been pairing cute peripheral gadgets with games since launching the Wii. They include the Wii Wheel, Wii Zapper and Wii Balance Board, the scale-ish device packaged with Wii Fit. Just how Nintendo plans to market the Wii MotionPlus accessory — or why such technology wasn't included in the controller originally — is unclear.

"We are always looking at ways to enhance the gaming experience for consumers," said Denise Kaigler, Nintendo vice president of corporate affairs.

Only five games have been confirmed to employ the new functionality. The most prominent is Nintendo's own Wii Sports Resort, a beachy follow-up to the popular Wii Sports. Besides Tiger Woods, the other games are Electronic Arts' Grand Slam Tennis, Sega's Virtua Tennis 2009 and Ubisoft's slice-and-shoot-'em-up sequel Red Steel 2.

The original Red Steel was one of the most anticipated games to debut alongside the Wii in 2006, but the first-person samurai shooter's wonky fidelity left many gamers feeling let down. Creative director Jason Vandenberghe promises that Wii MotionPlus technology will remedy that in Red Steel 2.

"One of the cool things is that with Wii MotionPlus, we know how hard you have swung the remote," Vandenberghe said. "That means we can ask the player to have a more physical experience, like having enemies who are wearing armor that players will have to hit harder with their sword."

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