I have to tip my hat to Nyko as they are one of the very few companies to release products that directly compete with Nintendo. Just like their Wing Classic Controller, the Nyko Wand Wii controller directly competes with Nintendo’s Wii Remote, breaking the 1st party monopoly. Bundled with the new Pistol Grip (a different product from Nyko’s Sure Shot), the Nyko Action Pack offers a great alternative from always going with Nintendo.
After an extensive play testing, I feel that the Nyko Wand is very similar to Nintendo’s 1st party controller. It comes packed with a rubberized sleeve and wrist strap, has a very similar overall controller layout, and has a pass-through port for use with other accessories, like the nunchuk. This Action Pak also comes with two AA batteries to power the Wand as well.
The Wand’s wrist strap is made of a softer material than Nintendo’s, which provides for a more comfortable experience. However, due to the way the strap is folded in the package, creases will cause the strap to not lay flat. Not really a big deal since they will eventually go away with use.
With safety first in mind, the Wand also comes with a “sleeve” which acts like a condom for your controller. Instead of being typical “Nintendo white,” the Wand’s sleeve is blue, promoting Nyko’s brand colors. Coincidentally, this color scheme matches that of Nintendo’s anyway. Besides color, the Wand’s sleeve has a more squared off edge as opposed to Nintendo’s rounded tip.
Both the sleeve and wrist strap fit very snug with the Wand but are not difficult to remove, just like Nintendo’s. It should also be noted that the Wand will fit just fine into the Nintendo sleeve. The only real difference is that the Wand’s power button will not pop out of the Nintendo sleeve since it is on the right side of the controller instead of the left.
It is also important to note that the Wand is fully compatible with Nintendo’s Wii Motion Plus accessory. However, some early versions of the Wand are not compatible with Wii Motion Plus. If this is the case, Nyko will kindly update your controller’s firmware at no cost. And even though it should be a safe assumption, I can also confirm that the Wand is fully compatible with Nyko’s own rechargeable battery packs.
Even though it is very similar to Nintendo’s controller, the Nyko Wand does have some key differences. First, the back of the controller is a rubberized grip, allowing users to get a better handle on the controller. The “B” button is also textured, which makes it a little easier to use. Unfortunately though, all the buttons on the controller have this hollow feeling which makes the unit feel a little more on the cheap side. This problem was also apparent in the Nyko Wing Classic Controller. All the Wand’s face buttons are bigger than Nintendo’s (and sport the blue and red Nyko color scheme), but that doesn’t necessarily make them better. Further, the d-pad is the worst part of the controller. It tries to help encourage the use of the 8-directions by adding a square shape over the basic cross direction design. But just like the other buttons, the d-pad feels cheap and hollow.
This might seem like a minor point to call out regarding the Wand, but each time you press any button on the controller, a small “tap” sound effect is emitted from the Wand’s speaker. This by no means enhances gameplay or ease of use, but it does somehow generate a more satisfying experience. In a way, it helps to alleviate the hollowness of the face buttons. Again, it is a minor detail, but the Wand wouldn’t really be the same without it.
Unfortunately, I did have some problems with the Wand’s IR sensor. For some reason, the Wand has a tendency to shake a lot more than Nintendo’s. For example, I noticed that the little hand icon that pops up during the Wii’s Home Screen was shaking for no reason, as if going through a slight vibrating seizure. To make sure that I wasn’t hyped up on a caffeine overdose, I held a Nintendo Wii controller in my other hand – there was no shaking. Even when I placed both controllers on a level surface and pointed them at the screen, the Wand gave off some initial shakiness.
There is one cool hidden feature that the Wand has but does not promote on the packaging of the unit. The Wand will actually tell you the amount of battery juice that is left. When the unit is off, simply press both the 1 and 2 Buttons and the amount of juice left will be indicated by how many of the controller’s ports light up. Crafty and highly useful.
Besides its beveled edge, the Wand is pretty much the exact same size, shape and weight of Nintendo’s controller. Even the vibration function feels very similar.
The other half the Nyko Action Pak is the Pistol Grip. Like the Sure Shot, the Wand can be placed into the Grip, turning your controller into a gun peripheral. What makes this process a little strange is that the sleeve, wrist strap, and even the battery cover must be removed. The instruction manual fails to truly announce this fact too. It also fails to mention that the pistol grip should also be pulled back away from the handle when installing the Wand. I actually didn’t realize this fact until after I broke off a tiny plastic piece inside the unit by using brute force…which isn’t the end of the world because everything still fit tightly, just like how it should.
From a functionality stand point, the Pistol Grip is better than the Sure Shot for a few main reasons. First, the pull of the trigger just feels right. Unlike the buttons on the Wand, there is some kick when pulling the trigger, giving it that solid study feel. Also, when combined with that subtle “tap” sound effect, it really makes it feel more like a firearm. Secondly, the user can also flick the hammer at the back of the unit as if hitting the “B” button. This also feels very solid and satisfying. Finally, there is a tiny switch at the bottom the handle, that when activated, can also swap the use of the “A” and “B” buttons. So instead of pulling the trigger as if hitting the “A” button, flicking that switch will assign the “B” button to the trigger. Because each shooting game can be different, this Pistol Grip allows for the greatest amount of flexibility.
Besides having to remove everything from the Wand, my only other complaint with the Grip is that the unit is a little top heavy. On the other hand, if the Grip had some weight, it could make gameplay more tiring than it needs to be. The Grip also comes with a useless orange cover that basically announces to the world that the user has a toy gun in hand. Nyko, and the government, wants you to use this orange indicator, but it really serves no purpose whatsoever.
Retailing for about $50, the Action Pak provides a great alternative for those looking for something other than Nintendo’s controllers. The Wand itself sells for about $35, about $5 cheaper than a Nintendo Wii controller.
So which controller takes the gold: the Nyko Wand or Nintendo’s Wii Remote? Both units are very similar with only minor differences, but I think I still give my nod to Nintendo just because the face buttons on the Wand feel a little too hollow and the d-pad needs some work. However, I am a fan of the “tap” sound effect the Wand makes, and the Pistol Grip is a great and thoughtful accessory for fans of the system’s shooting games. The Wand also retails at a lower price point than Nintendo’s, but Nintendo also bundles games with their controllers and accessories (like Wii Play and even Wii Sports Resort). It is more of a give and take, but the Nyko Action Pak is still a quality product.
– Wand’s button feel hollow and cheap
– Have to remove everything from the Wand, including the battery pak cover, for use with the Grip
– Installing the Wand into the Grip for the first time can be tricky – instructions are not the greatest
– Wand has a terrible d-pad
– IR sensor on the Wand was a bit shaky
– Wand has on board battery testing
– Pistol Grip has a solid feel
– Sweet button swap option on the Grip – can swap “A” button with “B” button
– Something different than always buying Nintendo stuff
– Comes with everything you will need
– Rubberized battery cover for better grip
To see other Nyko products, visit http://www.nyko.com/