Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Is Nintendo's new controller a house hazard?

By now, you have probably read about reports of the Nintendo Wii controller doing damage to plasma screens worldwide.

Apparently, some avid gamers are swinging the "Wii-mote" so hard and so fast -- after finding out that hand speed is mirrored with on-screen results -- that the little white controller sometimes slips out of their hands and becomes an in-home scud missile that can leave your 52-inch LCD with a crack in it before you finish your 18 months of no-interest payments.

There's even a website devoted to damage caused by the Wii remote.

The image you see above was posted on that website, though, like the "Today" Show's Matt Lauer, I'm not so sure this is a real picture.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said damage done by flying controllers -- including damage to TV sets -- is likely be due to overuse of the straps.

"Some people are getting a lot more excited than we'd expected," Iwata said. "We need to better communicate to people how to deal with Wii as a new form of entertainment."

I did catch this YouTube video that shows what can happen when you get sweaty palms and make hard motions at the same time.

What I've noticed, watching people play Wii in stores and in homes is that few people actually use the strap attached to the remote, which is supposed to be wrapped around the wrist. And it is possible to swing the remote so hard that the strap snaps and the thing slips out of your hand.

Nintendo has a true revolution on its hands with this motion-controlled remote and needs to develop a tougher wrist strap as well as encourage players to not swing so hard. Perhaps a re-done Wii Sports would have different physics built in that don't respond quite so well to speed of movement.

Some stores are selling "Wii Gloves," colorful skins that fit over the remote and make it easier to grasp. My advice? Hold the remote tight and keep your hands dry -- and don't swing the darn thing so hard.


Mercury Meltdown: Ever wanted to guide a liquid mercury blob around obstacles and through traps? Of course you didn't, but in this new PlayStation2 title from Reverb Communications, you will find yourself enjoying it.

Or at least I did. Your blob can change forms and there are plenty of mini-games to unlock. And this a lot more fun than it sounds (Rating: B)

Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz: This is just as much fun as Nintendo's Wii Sports game. There are 50 party games here and you use the Wii remote like a bat and a steering wheel to manuveur your way. Playable with up to four players, the thing here is the fun of playing.

Graphically, this game is superior to its predecessors on GameBoy. The controller allows better motion than the old analog sticks. You roll your glass-encased monkey around 3D worlds. The early worlds are easy to conquer, then things get progressively harder. But still fun. Instead of using a thumb to maintain your center, you now use your wrist with the motion-based controller. That takes some getting used to, but you'll gain overall more freedom of movement and the game just plays better (Grade: B).

Yoshi's Island: Baby Mario, Baby DK, Baby Wario and Baby Peach come to play in this game, and each one gives Yoshi access to unique powers. Baby Mario gives him speed and Peach lets him fly like Superboy.

You'll need all these abilities because evil Kamek has captured Baby Luigi and you must find him. It's classic Mario game play on the DS, which does a better-than-expected job with the graphics. Of course, there are all your favorite power-ups: flowers, stars and red onions. Of course, there is all the Mario fun you've come to expect. Some may be tired of Mario games, but I think I'll be a fan forever (Grade: B).


Anonymous said...

The Internet comic strip Penny Arcade took on this subject a little while back... if you don't mind a little profanity, go to

I value my TVs too much to be making dangerous swinging motions anywhere near them. :-)

Anonymous said...

I've had my Wii since launch. No problems. I could see some accidents happening after a little partying or some youngsters being a little enthusiastic.

The motion does not have to be fully realistic to perform well. As folks learn that accidents will be reduced.

If you bought a Wii for your kids, you need to have a talk with them about safety and make sure they wear the wrist strap.