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Ultimate Wii MotionPlus FAQ

by The Wiire Staff (2008-07-15)

With Nintendo's announcement of the add-on Wii MotionPlus also comes a barrage of questions.  The Wiire is here to answer all the questions surrounding the little brick which promises to provide true 1:1 motion and position information on the console.

NOTE:  This FAQ will continually be updated as new information becomes available.  Got a question that isn't here?  Leave it in the comments below and we'll include it, along with an answer, as soon as we can.

What is Wii MotionPlus?

In a nutshell, Wii MotionPlus is a new accessory for the Wii Remote that plugs into its expansion port, which promises to provide true 1:1 motion and position information to the console.

Nintendo's official press release can be found below:

"Nintendo's upcoming Wii MotionPlus accessory for the revolutionary Wii Remote controller again redefines game control, by more quickly and accurately reflecting motions in a 3-D space. The Wii MotionPlus accessory attaches to the end of the Wii Remote and, combined with the accelerometer and the sensor bar, allows for more comprehensive tracking of a player's arm position and orientation, providing players with an unmatched level of precision and immersion. Every slight movement players make with their wrist or arm is rendered identically in real time on the screen, providing a true 1:1 response in their game play. The Wii MotionPlus accessory reconfirms Nintendo's commitment to making games intuitive and accessible for everyone. Nintendo will reveal more details about the Wii MotionPlus accessory and other topics Tuesday morning at its E3 media briefing."

What does Wii MotionPlus look like?

Like a cute little white dongle or brick.  See the official picture from Nintendo below.

So how much does Wii MotionPlus cost?

No specific pricing has been announced yet.  You will get one (1) Wii MotionPlus and Jacket packed in with each copy of Wii Sports Resort.

What games will use Wii MotionPlus?

Wii Sports Resort

Star Wars: Clone Wars, while a perfect game for Wii MotionPlus adaption, was not shown during Nintendo's E3 Press Conference trailer using MotionPlus in the controllers.  If this functionality is to be in the game, it has yet to be shown or announced.

How does Wii MotionPlus actually work?  What technologies are at work inside the little brick?

The Wii MotionPlus peripheral uses a "Multi-axis MEMS Rate Gyroscope" from InvenSense. Their official press release announcing the inclusion of their technology in Wii MotionPlus can be found here (Thanks Pandakun).

This sophisticated grade of gyroscope will allow the MotionPlus accessory to capture detailed gesture data in full 3D space. The current technology in the Wii Remote that can only detect acceleration in a single direction, and the tilt of the controller. The Wii Remote uses this data in conjunction to produce a fairly convincing effect, but is limited in the complexity of gestures it can recognize.

Will Wii MotionPlus be built into new Wii Remotes?   That dongle looks whack.

While Nintendo has yet to say, some, such as GeekBrief.tv host Cali Lewis (and many of you in email/comments) is already calling for it to be included in the Wii remote, joking about how she envisions a series of add-ons for the Wii mote that make it better and better over time, but also longer and longer.

It ultimately depends on how much Nintendo wants to push MotionPlus. Currently, they had to announce it as an add-on, to appease everyone who already has a Wii mote. However, you also need to consider how much this add-on may increase the cost of a new controller if built in.

If Nintendo wants to build MotionPlus as an integral part of the Wii experience, it will be added into all new Wii motes in the future. If they simply want it to go the way of additional peripheral, such as a balance board, steering wheel, or microphone, and keep the cost of a new Wii-mote relatively low, then it'll always remain the cute little square nub it has made its debut today as.

What about the nunchuk?  Where do I plug in my beloved nunchuk?

Have no fear, ninja lover.  The Wii MotionPlus has a small port on the bottom of the attachment that should act as a pass-through in order to give 1:1 motion to titles requiring analog control between your Wii Remote and nunchuk.

Will Wii MotionPlus require a new silicone jacket for my Wii remotes?

Yes. Although it appeared from initial photos that Wii MotionPlus could be plugged into a Wiimote with the current silicone jackets, Reggie announced that an "extended" Wii Jacket would be packaged inside each copy of Wii Sports Resort.  (Thanks Jake!)

Something about "extended" jackets for your Wii mote just sounds wrong, doesn't it?

Can Wii MotionPlus allow a wireless connection to be established for a headset or wireless nunchuk?

Not that we are aware of. All that the MotionPlus adds is the ability to track the Wii Remote in 3D space. It does however have a port at the rear, to allow you to plug in your nunchuk or other such peripherals.

Also, Nintendo has now announced a community voice chat feature called WiiSpeak. It's a $30 device that sits on top of your TV enabling everyone in the room to communicate online. With this announcement, there is no longer the need for Wii MotionPlus to have voice capabilities built in.

Does the Wi MotionPlus include internal memory for a portable storeage solution?

Not that we are aware of. However its highly unlikely due to the physicle size of the device.

Reader Follow Up Questions

MrMikeL asks:  Will Wii MotionPlus functionality be patched into older games or only new releases?

From a programmers perspective, it is possible to update software via a patch (or even the Wii firmware) to enhance the games motion tracking--however its highly unlikely. Video game creators are very forward thinking, they don't like to update old software all to often (unless theres money involved).

Frank asks:  Will Wii MotionPlus eat up more battery life?

Well you see, when a peripheral of this magnitude gets added, it really takes most of the energy from the users hand, extrapolating the heat and turning it into a viable energy source. So to answer your question, yes - however it gets recharged using the energy from your hand.

Real answer: Yes. However, a more important question would be how much battery?  Its really hard to say due to the fact we currently know so little about how its enhancing the motion sensing capabilities of the Wii remote. If MotionPlus does use gyroscopic technology like what was posed above, it would definitely take more energy than a traditional accelerometer would.