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Photos: Must-have Wii accessories

At $250, The Nintendo Wii is the most affordable home game console on the market. But you'll want to invest in a few extra accessories to optimize your Wii experience. Here's an overview of the best bets, ranging from the obvious (extra controllers) to some you may not have heard of (free software that turns your Wii into a media center).

CNET Reviews staff
1 of 14 Nintendo
The Wii only comes with one controller, and that simply isn't enough for any social gaming. If you want to enjoy some multiplayer fun--and trust us, you'll want to be playing Wii Sports with your friends and family--you're going to need at least one more Wiimote.

Pictured: Nintendo Wii Remote

2 of 14 Nintendo
The Wii package includes one nunchuk, which plugs directly into the primary controller and includes a thumbstick and two more trigger buttons. But trust us: whether you're boxing in Wii Sports, fly fishing in Zelda: Twilight Princess, or beating down your friend in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, anyone with a second Wii remote will want a nunchuk to go with it.

Pictured (left): Nintendo Wii Nunchuk

3 of 14 Nintendo
The Wii features full backward compatibility with the Nintendo GameCube, with one caveat: you need to provide your own controller. The Wii remote simply won't work with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Eternal Darkness, Paper Mario, or any of the other classic GameCube games you can find in the bargain bin (or on eBay). You can pick up a regular GameCube controller for cheap, but the wireless Wavebird really is a superior beast. Good luck finding it, though; Nintendo has discontinued production of the Wavebird, so it's fetching prices in excess of $100.

Full review: Nintendo Wavebird

Affordable alternative: Mad Catz GameCube MicroCon Wireless Controller

4 of 14 Nintendo
The WaveBird's nice if you can find it, but it's not the best controller for the hundreds of classic NES, SNES, and N64 games available on the Wii's Virtual Console. If you're going seriously retro, the Wii Classic Controller can feel much more comfortable than a GameCube controller for many games. We just wish a full wireless version (that didn't need to be tethered to the Wii remote) was available; in the meantime, we're using--albeit grudgingly--the Nyko Wii Classic Controller Grip.

Full review: Nintendo Wii Classic Controller

5 of 14 Nintendo
Sure, it's just a silly, vaguely gun-shaped piece of white plastic, but it's a fun silly, vaguely gun-shaped piece of white plastic. While you can use the Wii Zapper for many games such as Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and Ghost Squad, its big draw is Link's Crossbow Training. This simple, fun game easily justifies the Zapper's $25 price tag.

Full review: Nintendo Wii Zapper

Affordable alternative: Nyko Perfect Shot

6 of 14 Sandisk
The Wii comes with 512MB of built-in memory, but that just isn't enough if you're building a large library of downloadable Virtual Console games. If you don't already have a spare card (from an old camera or MP3 player), you can find plenty of 2GB SD cards for less than $20--any of them will give you room for tons of retro games and save files.

Pictured: SanDisk 2GB SD card

Affordable alternatives: SD cards (1GB and larger)

7 of 14 Nintendo
Once again, the Wii's GameCube backward compatibility requires a bit more equipment. If you want to keep save files of any of your GameCube games, neither the Wii's built-in memory nor an SD card can be used--you're going to need a dedicated GameCube memory card.

Shown: Nintendo GameCube Memory Card

Third-party alternatives:
Nyko GameCube Memory Card (128MB)
Intec GameCube Memory Card (64MB)
Mad Catz GameCube Memory Card (16MB)

8 of 14 Nintendo
Unlike the PS3 and Xbox 360, the Wii does not offer high-definition output--but it can look better than what you get with the default cable. If you have an HDTV and want a little extra boost in video quality, swap out the included RCA video cable with a component video cable to enjoy full 480p progressive scan graphics. It's not high-definition, but the DVD-level video will look much better, especially on a big-screen TV.

Shown: Nintendo Wii Component Video Cable

Third-party alternatives:
Mad Catz Wii Component Cable
Intec Component Cable for Wii

9 of 14 Nyko
The wireless Wii remote takes AA batteries, which means you have three options for extended gaming. 1: You can get a big brick of cheap AA batteries. 2: You can get a pack of rechargeable NiMH batteries and a charger. 3: You pick up the Nyko Charge Station, which comes with two battery packs and gives your remotes a nice place to sit while they charge. Any of these solutions feed the Wiimote's hunger for power.

Full review: Nyko Charge Station

Affordable alternative: Energizer AA Easy Charger

10 of 14 Nyko
If you have a big, complex home theater setup, running an additional cord all the way from the top or bottom of your TV to connect the Wii sensor bar is just begging for tangles. Fortunately, Nyko makes a battery-powered, wireless sensor bar that you can just slap onto your TV without any wires. It's handy if you have a wall-mounted TV--or if you're just trying to keep the back of your home theater as knot-free as possible.

Full review: Nyko Wireless Sensor Bar

11 of 14 Nyko
The Wii remote is wireless to begin with, but the nunchuck remains tethered to it. Nyko's Wireless Nunchuk lets you make it even more wireless by cutting the cord between nunchuk and remote. (A small dongle that snaps onto the bottom of the remote takes the place of the wire.) The Nyko Wireless Nunchuk is set to be released in the spring of 2008.

Preview: Nyko Wireless Wii Nunchuk
CNET TV: Wireless Nunchuk at CES 2008

12 of 14
The PS3 and Xbox 360 were designed from the ground up to double as network digital media streamers. No such feature is built into the Wii, but there's a workaround in the form of the Orb Network software. Just download and install the free software on your Windows PC, and--once you invest in the Wii Web browser--you'll be able to access many of the digital photos, music, and videos on your PC's hard drive straight from the Wii.

Crave: Hands-on with Orb 2.0
CNET TV: Turn your Wii into a media center

13 of 14 Nintendo
The Wii's got built-in Wi-Fi, but not everyone's got a reliable wireless home network. If you've got a PC nearby, you can plug in the Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector and create a hot spot that's accessible to your Wii (and DS). But a more straightforward solution (assuming you've got an Ethernet jack nearby) is to pick up the Nintendo LAN Adapter. Just plug it into one of the USB ports on the Wii's backside, and you'll be good to go for Ethernet-only online action.

Pictured: Nintendo Wii LAN Adapter

Third-party alternative:
Datel Wii LAN Adapter

14 of 14 Nintendo
The Wii Balance Board isn't quite here yet, but it could very well be the next big Wii accessory. This plastic doormat of a controller measures your balance and adds even more funky control options to Wii games. It ships with Wii Fit, a fitness training program that tracks your work, like Wii Sports.

Preview: Nintendo Wii Fit
CNET TV: Wii Fit in action

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