How the Wii Works

Wii Controller

The controller from all angles
The controller from all angles
Photo courtesy Nintendo of America, Inc.

Prior to its release, Nintendo had several demos that let people experience the new controller. One demo let players shoot at an object on the screen -- they simply pointed the controller at the target and fired. In another demo players flew an airplane. All they had to do was move the controller in the way theywanted the plane to move, and the plane on the screen moved. The motion-sensitive controller made it easy to do sharp turns, barrel rolls and loops.

In other demos the controller acted like a stick. The controller manipulated an on-screen fishing pole, drumstick or flyswatter.

There are several advantages to this approach:

  1. Controller use seems to be completely intuitive, meaning that anyone can use it almost immediately -- there's no learning curve or fumbling as with joysticks.
  2. The controller is very fast. You can move from one side of the screen to the other with a quick flick of the wrist.
  3. The controller is very accurate: Things respond exactly as you expect.
  4. The controller lends itself naturally to new game-playing paradigms. Playing a sword-fighting or fishing game with a joystick is clunky. Playing it with a controller that can be swung like a sword or a fishing pole is completely natural.
  5. Playing an active game like tennis, boxing or baseball with the Wii can even give you a cardio workout -- a bonus for those who'd rather play video games than hit the gym [source: Berkrot].

In the next section we'll discuss some variations on this controller and see how the console is powered.