Nintendo pioneered the move for console manufacturers to rethink control designs with the Wii remote. This was quickly and somewhat unashamedly ripped off my Sony with the Six Axis controller, we have Microsoft heavily hinted to release their new control scheme at E3 (you can read more about this in my previous blog). We have Tony Hawk’s RIDE coming soon for a rumoured $120 that includes a motion sensing board controller which is the only control option. It leaves me thinking, what about the other component of the Wii Remote.

Tony Hawk - Ride

I of course mean the infra-red pointer control, to me this is the most vital part of the system and so far I haven’t seen it get the recognition that it should. As I sit thinking about it, the menu system of channels wouldn’t be as fluid as it is if we did not have the pointer. But even more importantly the impact that the pointer makes on controlling the games isn’t fully being realised, High Voltage Software seems to be the only developer of Wii software dead set on proving the advantages of pointer controls over dual analogue.

We have seen games that are fully relying on the motion aspect of the controller especially the Rayman Raving Rabbids game from Ubisoft, these mini-game collections draw in the crowd with their easy play aspect. But we also have the pointer centric games, the easiest to identify are Resident Evil: Chronicles series and House of the Dead: Overkill. Using the pointer aspect Capcom and Sega were able to bring back the arcade light gun games with all the enjoyment of the arcade control’s without sacrificing for a new peripheral or changing it to an analogue controlled on-rails game which can be very unresponsive and slow.

After playing several slow paced and slightly awkward control schemes for pointer control on the Wii you would be hard pushed to believe that there is a benefit of pointer over analogue. But I would urge you to go pickup Metroid Prime 3, Medal of Honor Heroes 2 or the upcoming The Conduit, and you will soon learn it’s hard to turn back to dual analogue after the simplistic fast and accurate flick of the wrist to aim than coordinating 2 thumb sticks to a point on the screen.

With the interim improvement of motion controls from Nintendo with Wii Motion + it may steal the attention as the most important aspect, but I would guarantee that with the successor to the Wii we will receive a better pointer control option that can be used from further away and isn’t offset by 3rd party light sources that cause flickering of the pointer. Motion is the selling point, it’s the crowd puller and we see this by the highly energised television adverts offered by EA, Nintendo, Activision, Sega and many other marketing departments.

With the dedication that HVS is showing to perfecting the control of the pointer within The Conduit and the newly announced even more advanced The Grinder, maybe we will see other developers take the controls of the Wii and offer the customisation that’s common place on PC mouse controlled games and bring it to their software. This allows users to get the controls as close to the precise nature that they like to have. As developers are still figuring out how to do things on Wii, I hope lessons learned are applied to the successor of the Wii which should improve upon the bases created this generation, pioneering the future.