Like Power A’s similar Pro Pack Mini that we tested a few months back, Snakebyte’s smaller MiniMote Controller follows the same formula by reducing the size of the controller for smaller hands, yet provides the same functionality of Nintendo’s own Wii remote. The controller itself is 25% smaller and comes encased in a shiny plastic with slightly larger face buttons with the ’1’ and ‘2’ buttons placed horizontally for better access, and a reshaped B-trigger for ergonomics. Similar to the Premium XL+ Remote (a comparison I’m going to make lot throughout my review) there’s an external sync button on the upper right for added convenience, and includes an internal “ECO mode” for extended operation life. Despite the power savings (we got about 20 hours) it’s a bit heftier than it looks but still lighter than a stock Wii remote.
No batteries are included and you’ll need to supply your own AAA types; a step back considering how everything you own uses AA power sources, and even more disappointing considering that Snakebyte’s own XL+ Remote included a built-in rechargeable battery via mini-USB. Likewise, there’s no companion MiniNunchuk to speak of, so you’ll have to mix-match one with standard or those ‘other’ third-party Nunchuk controllers to get the full effect. It’s a little puzzling that Snakebyte would have left their itty-bitty controller to fend for itself, but that’s just one thing that makes the MiniMote feel like a rushed project.
When playing we didn’t find any irregularities with the MiniMote. Every function you’d expect from a stock remote worked fine as motion detection and movement was on par from what you’d expect. In fact, playing most games with it was a bit easier since my hands didn’t have to travel further (no matter how miniscule the distance was for my fingers) and without any long-term strain common with most controllers in general. I felt the same thing when playing with Power A’s version last year, and I’m convinced that smaller remotes definitely have their place in the world – and especially in my hands!
Unfortunately, the d-pad was far from the best and definitely felt ‘sticky’ when trying to mash down on it regularly; unlike most consoles many of the most popular Wii games require a solid d-pad and I can’t say I was impressed with the one here. Likewise, many of the face buttons also felt a bit unresponsive at first, especially when having to ‘break them in’ during the first couple of uses. It’s not surprising, considering the buttons and d-pad are the same ones they used with the XL+, and I’m hoping Snakebyte will redesign it for future releases.
Other concerns I have with the MiniMote really aren’t with the actual quality controller itself but with what using one means. Those of you who love your various Wii accessories like tennis rackets, swords, or other such plastic shells, should know that the MiniMote is virtually incompatible with nearly all of them – it’s just too small to fit snugly in their enclosures. Another disappointment is the lack of built-in MotionPlus support, which is actually surprising given the company’s early support of the 1:1 motion technology, and in some cases purpose-defeating; attaching an external MotionPlus adapter to the MiniMote adds considerable weight and heft to its miniature size. That might make playing games like playing games like Red Steel 2 or Wii Sports Resort possible, but certainly not as ‘mini’ as you would like.
With so many younger and more petite gamers joining the ranks all the time, its easy to see where a fully-functional, smaller alternative to stock controllers would be helpful. Snakebyte certainly has, and that’s exactly what you’re getting with their MiniMote Controller – a miniature Wii remote controller that’s 25% smaller. Its certainly more comfortable than most Wii remotes (Nintendo’s included), and I won’t deny how nice it felt in my hand. Unfortunately, the poor build quality and sticky buttons only serve to reduce the controller’s reliability, especially in games where its needed the most. Other issues like its use of AAA batteries and no built-in MotionPlus support make it a questionable purchase, especially with better and more capable alternatives also on the market.
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