Last year a prototype controller for the GameCube came up for auction on Yahoo Japan and shed a little more light on the evolution of the Wii Remote. A grey prototype version of the controller plugged into the console directly, as did a large IR bar similar to the one which would eventually ship with the Wii. A familiar looking Nunchuk controller was also included which connected to the remote via a standard ethernet cable, as you can see above, and it seems that it included something missing from the final version - a rumble motor.
Hard4Games recently took a much closer look at the prototype - watch the video at the bottom of this page for a side-by-side comparison of the Wiimote we all know and love and this shorter GameCube version. The Nunchuk is slimmer than the production model, but is otherwise very similar - on the outside at least. Responding to Hard4Games on Twitter, Dan Moore recently posted photos of the Nunchuk controller's innards sent to him by someone in possession of a prototype and it appears to show a rumble motor similar to those used in select Game Boy Advance cartridges.
While the pictures aren't the best quality, they clearly show a component that looks to be a rumble motor and Moore provides a comparison to an example from the GBA cartridge Drill Dozer. As noted last year (and as the video below highlights), the buttons on the Wii Remote prototype come from a Game Boy Advance SP, so it makes sense that Nintendo might cannibalise other GBA components for its prototype hardware.
Obviously, the rumble feature was removed in the final product, but Moore goes on to suggest this is likely the reason for conflicting reports before the Wii launched as to whether the Nunchuk contained a rumble motor.
Check out the video below for a closer look. The Hard4Games guys stop short of opening up the controllers for fear of damaging what is potentially a 'museum' piece (not to mention one loaned to them by myretropop.com), but the video gives a great overview of the different parts and includes internal shots of the remote. With the GameCube having just celebrated the 18th anniversary of its Japanese launch, this once again highlights how ideas from the GameCube era would go on to power the hugely successful Wii.
Thanks to No64DD for the heads-up.