It's been quite some time since Nyko unveiled its Wand accessory for the Nintendo Wii. Other than a being a third-party alternative to the official Wii remote, the Wand boasted TransPort technology that successfully carries button commands through its Nunchuk port. Since its release, Nyko has distributed a few items that take advantage of TransPort, though the Action Pak remains the most compelling of them.
What impressed us most about the Wand was Nyko's ability to trump Nintendo by using new technology to improve upon an existing design. To our surprise, this wouldn't be the only time Nyko beat Nintendo at its own game. The Wand's successor, the Wand+, features MotionPlus built in, so there's no need for a separate accessory.
The end result is a great-performing, comfortable, no-brainer alternative to purchasing a Wii remote in addition to a MotionPlus attachment. Best of all, the Wand+ retails for just $40, which is $20 cheaper than buying the aforementioned items separately.
Nyko hasn't changed much about its product, it seems when comparing the new Wand+ with the Wand. The controllers look exactly the same, though we really liked the new rubberized matte covering that surrounds the Wand+. Its no-slip grip felt great in our hands and really gives the controller a sleek and stylized look. The Wand+'s battery door retains its ribbed texture, too.
The Wand+, which comes in black or white, doesn't seem heavier in any way, considering it technically has more hardware packed inside. In terms of battery life, we also didn't notice any discernable difference in drainage times. This makes sense, as we never experienced increased battery drain when using the Wii MotionPlus plus attachment with standard Wii remotes.
In our testing, we found that the Wand+ worked just as well as MotionPlus. Wii Sports Resort noticed MotionPlus right away as we tried out ping-pong and Frisbee toss. There haven't been too many MotionPlus-compatible options in the Wii library, but support for the technology seems to be growing as of late. For example, NHL 2K11 fully supports MotionPlus, and we absolutely preferred playing the game with the Wand+ over a Wii remote and MotionPlus combination.
Positives aside, there are few details regarding the Wand+ that we wish Nyko would have addressed. For starters, the controller's d-pad remains a bit flimsy and uneven. It doesn't feel anywhere near as solid as the Wii remote's does. All the other buttons seem on par with the performance of the Wii remote's, and we are happy to report that the "B" trigger button's ribbed texture is back again.
The Wand+ should be the easy choice for the Wii gamer looking for a new controller to upgrade to MotionPlus. The Wand+ eliminates the clutter and the otherwise cumbersome experience of using an original Wii remote with the MotionPlus attachment.