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CES 2009: Hands-on with Nyko's replacement Wiimote, The Wand

Justin McElroy

It's common knowledge that the Wii's third-party games generally pale in comparison to Nintendo's first-party efforts. But it seems as though that same observation will no longer be true about the system's controllers when Nyko rolls out its Wiimote replacement, The Wand, in April or May of this year. We took the controller for a spin (and a twist and a wave) earlier today at the company's CES booth.

Most notable in the controller is Nyko's "Trans-Port" technology, which allows the controller's buttons to be auto-magically remapped to add-on peripherals, without the need for a mechanical solution. For demonstration, Nyko showed us a gun grip that felt much better than other snap-in guns we've held. With the Trans-Port's digital solution, there's also no longer a problem of Wiimote buttons being obscured by add-ons.

While the gun attachment is the furthest along, Nyko said its also thinking about some sort of keypad attachment for web surfing and sending messages.

There are also some more tactile improvements to the controller. Buttons have been enlarged, and there's a new custom d-pad. Best of all, there's a new grip on the handle, the perfect solution to all those Wiimote tossing injuries and broken big screens. The whole thing feels much more solid than the Wiimote, slightly weightier and more comfortable to hold.

The form factor is different, but the Wand still slides or snaps in to whatever Wiimote add-ons you may already have lying around. The one notable question is the MotionPlus, which Nyko thinks will be Wand compatible, but won't swear to.

One of the biggest questions that's still unanswered is the controller's price, though Nyko says it's shooting for the $30 - $40 range. If it hits that mark, we'll be sorely tempted to start replacing our Wiimotes.

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