News Article

Feature: Wii Controllers - What Could Have Been

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Wii never knew...

Part of our mission at Nintendo Life is to highlight parts of the gaming world that were previously unknown. To that end, our experienced researchers have been rooting around the archives of Wii history and discovered the original patent application for the Wii Remote. Reading patent documentation isn’t the most stimulating of activities, but we’ve completed this arduous task to discover a world of concept ideas that never saw the light of day, though it would have been fun if they had.

Accessories Galore

What is clear from the patent document is that development of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk posed serious ideological questions for Nintendo. While pursuing a controller system that allowed more freedom of the hands and a move to motion gaming, there were concerns that certain experiences would require a more conventional controller. There are references to ‘accessory units … designed to mimic earlier or different videogame platforms’, as backwards compatibility and traditional gaming were clearly an important focus. Of course, the Classic Controller delivered on this, and gamers in Europe with plenty of Club Nintendo ‘stars’ may have even got hold of a SNES Classic Controller for the Wii. It seems, however, that early stages of development explored alternative options.

Look, no wires…

While Wii gamers are accustomed to the wire and connector when using a Classic Controller, it appears that initial ideas would have worked differently. Concept diagrams show a Wii Remote being docked with three different retro controllers: Wii iterations of GameCube, SNES and NES controllers were conceived, with each being a relatively faithful recreation of the original. Each controller has an indentation in the middle where the Wii Remote would sit, which on the surface looks like a strange idea.

Cynics may suggest that, if this idea had come to fruition, it would have been a cash-grab to have three versions of a controller that, in reality, is provided by one Classic Controller. That would be unfair as, after all, these are concept documents. What we find interesting is the potential gaming opportunities that these setups could have provided. Think about it: with the Wii Remote docked in the controller and pointing towards the TV, it could have been a Classic Controller with pointer functionality. Imagine the gameplay possibilities with two analogue sticks and a pointer; confusing initially, perhaps, but possible with practice. Let’s take Super Mario Galaxy as an example: move Mario with one stick, move the camera with 360-degree freedom with the other while gathering star bits with the pointer. It sounds crazy enough that it could have worked.

Conceptually, perhaps these drawings represent the first spark of imagination that led to the Wii U controller. If the touchscreen was inspired by the success of the DS and tablet devices such as the iPad, perhaps the idea of having conventional control inputs aligned with motion controls began with the development of the Wii Remote accessories. Whereas the existing Classic Controller works completely separately from the Wii Remote, these early patents suggested a possibility of integrating these ideas together. It is entirely possible that issues of cost and practicality put these ideas back, but they were clearly not forgotten.

Finally, to end with a bang

To be honest though, there was one part of this patent document that grabbed the attention of the Nintendo Life team. A combination of surprise, confusion and wonderment was expressed at first sight of what we’ll unimaginatively call the ‘Nintendo Gun’. It’s not a zapper, or a blaster; it’s quite simply a big gun. If we were to guess on the model, with a knowledge based on video games and movies, we’d suggest it’s a magnum. A powerful one.

In fact, it bears an uncanny resemblance to the House of the Dead: Overkill Hand Cannon. Let’s not forget that was an X-rated on-rails shooter with enough foul language to make a rapper blush. The Nintendo Gun, however, would have been a change of strategy for the big N. Had enough of cuddly mascots and playing Wii Sports with your granny? Just bust out the Nintendo Gun and shoot some baddies, sucka! If this gun had ever made it to stores, we would have snapped it up and waved it in the faces of ‘hardcore’ gamers with HD consoles and asked a simple question: does your console have anything as bad-ass as this?

So there you have it, a few intriguing controllers that could have made gaming on the Wii that little bit different. There’s also the Nintendo Gun, let’s not forget that.

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User Comments (37)



zezhyrule said:

looks small, unbalanced and uncomfortable. No thanks.

Though the wireless thing ninty should've done from the start



WaveGhoul said:

A Wireless Classic Controller without the Wii Remote attached to it and a Wireless Nunchuck would of been great...



GTWarrior77 said:

Those controllers (excluding the gun) look like they would have been top heavy and therefore unbalanced when in the hand.

I do find it strange that Nintendo has not released a wireless classic controller yet.



NESguy94 said:

I like what we have, although it would have been nice to have the classic 4-button setup where the A button is now.



WiiLovePeace said:

Hell yeah! That big gun looks awesome, hilarious 2nd last paragraph too NL, this article is full of WIN! !



SennaKurosaki said:

Total wireless connectivity would have been great! No wire between the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk and no wires between any Classic controller and the Wii Remote would have been very convenient and, I think, not that hard or expensive to make. A little bit larger directional-pad, for adult-size thumbs, would have been useful too! And the Nintendo Gun looks awesome... but too bad that light-guns don't work with modern-day flat-screen televisions. (They only function well with classic "tube"-televisions).



JayceJa said:

@6; i think the A-X-Y setup of the gamecube on the spot where the A button is would have worked better, though maybe rotated a little to be symmetrical for lefties

being wireless i would have hated, its enough to need batteries for 4 remotes, to then have to keep track of batteries for each CC and nunchuck as well, it would have been terrible
the wire between remote and nunchuck is a blessing

i always wished the modular controller was utilized more, i wanted an alternate nunchuck with motion plus controls and a second pointer rather than an analogue stick for full on motion control and sensor



moosa said:

LoL guys these are just raw concepts. Raw = unrefined. Just to get the ideas across in as straightforward a manner as possible.

Honestly there isn't anything really new here. The Classic Controller has that clip on the bottom that everyone figured would attach to and hold the Wiimote some day, but that never happened. I think it would have been pretty difficult to use the pointer and classic controller in tandem without it feeling awkward.



TwilightV said:

I imagine the "Gun" was designed as a homage to Japan's pistol controller for the Famicom (which of course was converted to the Zapper for the NES).



Teh-Ray said:

I'm with JakobG on this.

Those hands are like having skinny and fat hands at once, in all the wrong ways.



SuperLink said:

I don't like the Gamecube and NES/SNES ones. I just seems like that would be too uncomfortable and the weight would be unbalanced (what with the Wii-mote jutting out of the top).

I do like the gun, though. Shooting stuff by holding the Wii-mote, pointing it forward, and hitting the A button, is just too weird. All of the games that utilize that style of Wii-mote control would be better if you could use that gun. Take that, people who think the Wii is for babies!



pikku said:

I really would've wanted that first one. The second one does look awkward, and unbalanced. But playing Super Mario Galaxy or other games would be amazing like you described. ;___;



TheGreenSpiny said:

My problem with all of these devices is they are just attachments, same as the rest of the junk released for Wii. Old School light guns were cool because they were seperate controllers. If Nintnedo had made a new Zapper that looked like that hand cannon but replaced the flashing lights with a IR pointer that would have been cool. Keep an slot on the bottom for the nunchuk and you would have had an awesome controller for HOTD. Of course the pointer works differently and is usually best when rested in your lap like a normal controller anyway, so that might not have worked out so well.

@16 pikmaniac02: I have to disagree here. I hate having to muck around with the camera too much in games. Mario Galaxy had a great camera most of the time. I'll admit there were times when I wanted to more freedom with the camera, but Nintendo locked out the controls most of the time when I really need that function.



Blue_Yoshi said:

Wow I cant believe it Nintendo had a genius idea of releasing a not obnoxiously huge Gamecube wireless controller. You hear everyone complaing about the Wii U and newer Wiis not having GC ports? This could be your answer to people who wish to play classic Wii games with the GC remote like Mario Kart and Brawl. The SNES and NES wouldnt have sold that well tho but a slim wireless GC is genius. Plus the revolver looks badass much better than the stupid looking Zapper. It would be nice if they decided to release all these controllers at once.



Scissors said:

Why does the classic controller have that button that pushes down the flaps in the back, anid what was the purpose of those flaps? Did they ever do anything with that?

A wireless classic controller with rumble would have been one of my favorite controllers ever. As it is having it attached to the Wiimote was just awkward, it was a short cable that had an anchor at the end. At the very least all the corners they cut while making the classic controller made it very cheap, I think I got mine for $10 on ebay.



X-145 said:

That person holding the first controller looks like his fingers were bitten of by a fish and had to replace them with his toes... That looks extremely uncomfortable to hold. 0.o
The magnum would be awesome, though! I would've been scarred sh!tless if someone pointed that at me and I hadn't heard of it before.



pikku said:

@18. Oh no, I didn't mean to belittle the SMG camera at all. I loved it, and it was just about perfect. My only gripe with it was that every once in a while, it would stay in an uncomfortable position and the D-pad wouldn't let him adjust it anymore. That is where the extra stick of that controller would come in handy. But yeah, I agree with you completely, the SMG games have gfreat cameras.



Radixxs said:

I don't find the gun intriguing at all, it's just the zapper's first concept.



TKOWL said:

The Wii Handgun one looks awesome, they should've used that as the actual zapper



MakeMyBiscuit said:

I for one like the Classic Controller Pro we have and the Nyko Perfect Shot works perfectly so I'm not too heart broken these designs did not come out.



NintyMan said:

Whoa, nelly, imagine the crying the anti-video game population would have cried if the Wii Gun became real!



Wolfenstein83 said:

Wow, I am glad they used the design we ended up with, and kept things more simplistic.
Those other designs are ridiculous looking.
I have to say though, that light-gun design is pretty snazzy.



Milkman-123 said:

nintendo is issuing a golden wii remote, due to the legend of zelda 25th anniversery.

its on



Luffymcduck said:

That NGC one looks funny. Well Cube is Nintendo´s best controller to date so it´s not that bad.



TheGreenSpiny said:

@23: My point exactly. Those points where the camera doesn't move is because of the programing not the lack of analog stick. Analog stick would have made the camera control more precise, but for whatever reason the designers locked out the controls. This happens a lot in Mario 64, but in that game I think it was because of the prerendered graphics that were used for some of the backgrounds and such. There were a lot of places where you couldn't control the camera at all. These games a sharp contrast to Sunshine, which had you constantly fiddling with the camera and seriously killed all enjoyment of that game.



zezhyrule said:

lol does anyone seriously hold a controller parallel to the ground when they play? it would be seriously uncomfortable for me to have the Wiimote's pointer directed at the TV the whole time. Kinda ruins the whole point of it.



hYdeks said:

they should have took some of there ideas they has hear and made them work. I think the controller as a dock for the remote would have been way more brilliant. Would have appealed to older gamers and newer ones, we literally could have seen a different history for nintendo if they did these ideas instead.

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