Hands on with SnakeByte's XS Starter Pack

It’s always struck us as rather strange that Nintendo held off allowing third party manufacturers to produce controllers for the Wii for such a long time. It’s only recently that we’ve seen ‘unofficial’ Wiimotes and Nunchuks hitting the marketplace, and considering the relatively high price of Nintendo’s own brand of peripherals, it’s a welcome move.

SnakeByte – the company behind the Retro Controllers we reviewed recently – has now pushed its own interpretation of Nintendo’s Wiimote and Nunchuk combo onto shop shelves, and although the company is offering both items separately, it’s the XS Starter Pack that has caught our attention.

Nintendo’s own controllers are a tad expensive (£29.99 for the Wiimote and £14.99 for the Nunchuk, at the last count) but SnakeByte’s pricing is a little more reasonable - £39.99 for both controllers (although it should be noted that when sold alone, the price of each item is the same as Nintendo's).

The saving of £5 might not seem like much, and it’s probably fair to assume most of you would rather pay the extra cash for official goods anyway, given the relatively poor reputation that third party accessories tend to have. However, in this case we were very impressed with the quality of Snakebyte’s goods.

The Wiimote is practically identical to Nintendo’s version, for example. The D-pad is a slightly different shape but it makes no odds to its responsiveness. The buttons feel sturdy and after a few minutes play we honestly couldn’t tell the difference between this and the official offering.

The same story applies to the Nunchuk; aside from a slightly different stick design, this is essentially a carbon-copy of Nintendo’s Nunchuk. We were also pleased to note that both items operate just as effectively, too.

It’s also worth noting that the XS Starter Pack is available in white, black and pink – something that Nintendo’s official controllers can’t offer (at present). The company also has a pack that contains a wireless Nunchuk.

While we’re still loathe to champion third party goods over official stock – especially when there’s not a significant saving to be had – we can’t help but think that the XS Starter Pack makes excellent sense if you’re looking to expand your controller collection with the minimum of effort. Also, with Christmas on the way this would make an excellent present for the Wii-owners in your extended family – and let’s face it, even your gran has one these days.