It’s now official; the gauntlet for motion-controlled superiority has been thrown. Even though the trend was considered a fad the competitors are ready to challenge what might be the next step in gaming immersion, from bold imitators to skeptical originators the theater isn’t about to wind down. With a growing number of games set to take advantage of Nintendo’s MotionPlus functionality, the need to upgrade/replace the millions of existing Wii remotes already on the market is growing, and its unbelievable that Snakebyte’s Premium Remote XL+ is only the second device for the console (following Nyko’s similarly-named Wand+). With its built-in MotionPlus and the ability to recharge direct from the remote itself, there’s no question they’ve come up with a compelling alternative to the competition; but will added features be enough to keep one in your motion-loving hands?
As we’ve come to expect from the company, Snakebyte’s packed a lot into a single remote, meaning you’ll get everything you need to start syncing and playing any standard and MotionPlus Wii game right out of the box. The controller sports a hard plastic body and glossy face, with all standard buttons of a regular Wii remote in their standard places. The Plus/Minus, Home, and Power buttons are now made of raised rubber, and the standard four-player lights are joined by a new Snakebyte logo (at the bottom) that glows when MotionPlus is activated on compatible games. Also, the sync-button has migrated to the top-right corner of the controller’s face, the reason being that the remote can be charged using 2 AA rechargable NiHM batteries (included!) via mini-USB cable (also included!), much like PlayStation 3 users can with their DualShocks. The battery case must be screwed shut using the included mini-screwdriver, which means you’ll want to make sure you don’t misplace it.
Unfortunately, the Remote XL+ falls apart in the very area it was designed for – actually using it. The controller sports one of the worst d-pads I’ve ever used, and is so uncomfortably cheap that simply pressing it doesn’t feel right, as though its about to break at any moment. Every click emits an uncomfortable ‘click’, and I found its response while playing digitally-sensitive games (like Mega Man 10) almost non-existent. Even worse, many of the most critical face buttons (A, 1, 2, Plus/Minus) were so unresponsive that you literally have to mash down on them with force to even get a response, making them all but useless for intensive sessions games that require hair-trigger accuracy. Fortunately, not every button needed this ‘breaking in’ method to work properly, as the Home, Power, and B-trigger all faired much better.
Another problem is with the MotionPlus functionality is the constant high-pitched buzzing from the controller that never goes away. Not only that, but the Wii Remote’s standard ‘rumble noise’ that accompanies actions sounds like a piece of broken plastic came loose and was rattling every time I moved my reticule around, and when coupled with the constant buzzing, make this is the most exasperatingly noisy 1:1 motion controller I’ve ever used. I should stress that my testing unit was NOT broken and, despite the constant buzzing and ‘broken plastic’ noises, MotionPlus games worked fine and the reticule itself was very responsive and accurate; you’ll just to tolerate the constant mosquito drone whenever you want to play a few sessions in Wii Sports Resort.
Despite Snakeybyte’s efforts to pack their Premium Remote XL+ with features and accessories, its hard to recommend as it fails in its most basic function – control. The inclusion of built-in MotionPlus functionality and USB charging are truly great concepts for the market, but there’s no getting around the unresponsive controls, especially the d-pad and critical face buttons, as their need to mashed down in order to work make them functionally useless for any game that requires pinpoint accuracy. Add to that the constant buzzing that accompanies MotionPlus gameplay and unfortunate ‘broken plastic’ sound that passes most actions and you’ve got a disappointing effort that never lives up to its potential. It’s a shame, as you truly get a lot for the asking price, and we hope that Snakeybyte does better next time around.
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