Hidden Secrets of Your Wii Remote

Wii Motion Plus

Next week at E3, Nintendo will be showing off some new features for the Wii Remote, including the new Wii MotionPlus attachment. In order to help you sound less stodgy around your children and grandchildren, here are some Wii FAQs:

Question

Which is the correct term — Wii Remote or Wiimote?

Answer

According to Denise Kaigler, vice president for corporate affairs for Nintendo, the official term is “Wii Remote” and it connects to the “Nunchuk.” According to a Google search results, “Wiimote” is a popular nickname, netting 2.9 million hits, compared with 3.4 million for Wii Remote. To sound cool around your kids, you might say, “please pass the Wiimote.”

How much do extra sets of controls cost?

About $55, which includes a Wii Remote and Nunchuk. If bought separately, the Wii Remote costs $35, and the Nunchuk costs $20. Remember that a complete set is included with new Wiis, but because most games are meant for two or more players, it is wise to budget for additional controller sets.

How do I check the battery strength?

There’s a battery indicator built into your Wii Remote. Pick up a sleeping Wii Remote and press the large A button. You’ll see flashing blue LEDs near the base. The more that are flashing, the stronger your batteries. According to Nintendo’s user manual, you can get about 30 hours of play from two fresh AA alkaline batteries.

Does keeping the Nunchuk plugged in drain the batteries faster?

Yes. The Nunckuk draws power from the Wii Remote. To extend your battery life, keep the Nunchuk unplugged when it isn’t being used.

How many Wii Remotes can one Wii detect at once?

Four.

If I have more than one Wii in the same room, how do they keep the remotes coordinated?

Each Wii console is continually sniffing for new controllers. To get them talking to one another, all you need to do is press a button. Hopefully, one of the blue LEDs will light up, and stay lit. If so, you’re all set. But if the lights continue to blink, you may need to re-sync your Wii Remote.

How do I “sync” a Wii Remote?

Find and press the two red buttons within a few seconds of one another. One is located on the Wii console, behind the little door on the front. The other is in the battery compartment of your Wii Remote. This requires unsnapping the back plastic plate. Give it a press. If the light stays on, you’re ready to go. To resync at any time, here’s another trick. Press the 1 and 2 buttons at the same time.

Is it true that incandescent light sources, like birthday candles or patches of bright sunlight, can confuse the controls?

Nintendo’s official answer is less than clear. “Our testing thus far shows there is not a great risk of light interference when playing a game that relies on the pointer and sensor” (referring to the Sensor Bar that sits near your TV. In my experience, candles and Christmas tree lights can make the cursor jump around. It’s an easy problem to fix –- either move the Wii away from bright sun, or turn off the lights.

What’s this Wii MotionPlus I’ve been hearing about?

Wii MotionPlus is a small add-on that snaps onto the bottom of existing Wii Remote, increasing its ability to sense motion. It will be particularly useful for sports games, like golf and tennis, where hand and arm motion count. It contains a rate gyroscope, a sensor that instantaneously measures the angular velocity (the rate at which an object turns) of your hand or arm. So, throwing a Frisbee is tricky, just like the real thing. According to Nintendo, you’ll be able to buy one on June 8 for $20. Games in the works include Virtua Tennis 2009, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, and EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis.

I love my kids, but they sure are grimy creatures. How do you clean your Wii controls?

While it’s probably not a good idea to put your Wii Remote in the dishwasher, there is a fix for sticky buttons on Nintendo’s Web site. Find a clean, damp toothbrush, and take out the batteries. Scrub around the buttons, working the bristles into crevices.

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