The Wiimote doesn't work...

... for anything else than aiming and frantically moving up and down. In other words, slow movements aimed at the screen work well, as do fast, imprecise movements, but anything else is impractical.

But let's move back a little: why am I saying that? Well, it's been a few months since I've bought the Wii. I admit I was skeptical of the Wii-remote at first but revised my judgement once I tried the system at a few friends' houses. I've been a loyal Nintendo customer for years: I've owned every portable system from the first GameBoy to the DS light, as well as a few of their regular consoles. I don't even know how many versions of Mario Kart I've bought. The reason I'm saying all that is to assure you that I'm not partial *against* Nintendo. Call it tough love if you want. Anyways.

I've owned the Wii for a few months now and I've really tried hard to love it. And I do most of the time. What really sold me the console was the Golf part of Wii Sports. Even though the game is incredibly shallow (only nine holes and 3 clubs), it promised a lot. For the first time, a video game system seemed to allow for the possiblity of a golf simulator. Not just a game, but something that feels and operates like the real thing. Wii Sports isn't quite there though: slice and hook are determined randomly if you hit the ball too hard, and it doesn't really follow your moves but really is based only on timing (do any movement in any direction at the right speed and it will just work the same, as my 3-years-old daughter quickly dicovered). But it definitely felt like the potential was immense. So I got up at 5 in the morning and waited in front of Target in the cold hours of a Sunday morning to get the system.

The first golf game I tried was a very bitter disappointment: Super Swing Golf has an absolutely incomprehensible control scheme. You actually need to press a button at the top of your swing. Why, why, why would they break the game like this? Shouldn't the remote just detect that you stopped going up and started going down? At the time I just blamed Tecmo and thought I would just wait for Tiger Woods. I was pretty confident that if someone could get it right, it would be EA. Unfortunately, I later understood that Tecmo wasn't to blame for the clunky controls. The wiimote was.

When I finally got my hands on Tiger Woods, at first everything just seemed peachy. I was (completely) missing a lot of shots but I thought it was just me learning the game. So I tried and tried, and as I gained experience it became very clear that the number of missed shots was not going down. It also became very clear what was responsible for them. The shot would just go before I was done lifting the remote. The wiimote seems to be incapable of reliably detecting the change of direction. The fact that it points away from the the sensor bar at that moment probably doesn't help. In any case it pretty much explains why Tecmo felt you had to press a button to tell the system you were done raising your arm.

The putting has similar issues, again because the remote isn't directed at the sensor bar. The club doesn't move with the remote. It just starts to move as soon as you press B. Like in Wii Sports, it's really only based on timing, not on the way you move.

Finally, to slice or hook, you need to add a different move to the end of your swing, which is untirely unnatural and doesn't exist in real golf where these effects are caused by the angle with which you hit the ball. But of course the wiimote can't detect such subtle movements in the middle of a fast trajectory such as a swing.

It should be clear by now that there is a whole class of moves that the wiimote is very bad at detecting. The problem is that those are the ones that are necessary for most sports simulations, a type of game the Wii looked the most promising for. I'm really afraid that there will never be a good golf (and maybe tennis) simulation on this system.

The Wii remote definitely works for aiming at the screen (but a mouse would be much more efficient). It also works for frantic, imprecise movements. That's why Rayman Raving Rabbids works so well. Wii developers will have to work around those constraints one way or another and I'm pretty confident that this industry has enough smart people to figure out how to exploit the system for what works and carefully avoid what doesn't. We'll see great (non-mini) games for the Wii after a while, just like we did for the DS. I just doubt golf can be one of those...


  • well you know that when you have a problem, have solutions too, is only time to fix accuracy or detections problems, give some time to the wii, only have 6 months, many titles out in the launch, and tiger woods are the first in the wii.

  • I think the Wii is a piece of garbage.

  • Actually, the Wiimote's accelerometers are *extremely* sensitive. Just because you have played two third-party, rushed-to-market golf games does not mean it is the controller's or even the console's fault. The publishers wanted to get their games out for the console to sell more copies, the Wiimote is an entirely new device and requires new skill sets to develop for. Wait for the developer's understanding to mature, pick up Tiger Woods 2009 and it will be a completely different experience.

  • My wiimote isn`t working and I put more than 1 pair of new batteries in. What`s wrong?

  • Brandon: I have a feeling Nintendo's support would be much better qualified than I to answer this...

  • did you try to recalibrate? press the little button in that controller port area on the wii then the little button in the wiimotes battery thingamigig and presto you have a working mote hopefuly

  • When I go to you the target option, to zoom in on the hole, only the dang hand shows up...but no ring to adjust. Only got the ring to show up once since I had the game?!!


  • @julz: no need to scream. For your information, the device you are referring to is no receiver, even though Nintendo misleadingly calls it a sensor bar. Quite the opposite in fact: it contains a couple of infrared diodes. The receiver is a small IR camera in front of the wiimote. Nintendo needed that in addition to the motion detectors to get better precision, but when you're in the middle of a swing, the wiimote is pointing down, so the camera actually doesn't see the IR dots and can't help. Add to this the lack of precision of the motion detectors on fast movements and you pretty much can understand why golf games don't work on the Wii.
    You might also want to check your spelling.

  • i have tried that i even put new batteries in and nothing seems to work but my brothers mote still works

  • The motion detection is fine, it's the games that can't use it properly.

  • my wiimote isnt working even though i adjust the "sensor" and the hand wont even show . the games are working fine though!

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