Third party Wii Remotes are nothing new to the peripheral and accessory market. SnakeByte, the latest company to offer new hardware alternatives to Nintendo’s system, has introduced their Premium Remote XL with built in Motion Plus technology. But is their controller a better bang for your buck in comparison to Nintendo’s original design?
One of the best positive bullet points about this device is that it is bundled with a bunch of extras. A mini-USB cord, two 1300mAh AA rechargeable batteries, two wrist straps and a mini screw driver are all included with purchase. Chances are, you probably have a few USB cords lying around so this is not as big of a deal. However, the inclusion of two higher quality rechargeable Energizer batteries is. Normally, controllers and even toys are packaged with the cheapest batteries possible. And thanks to the included USB cable, the user can charge these batteries using only the controller; no extra battery recharger/dock is required.
Unlike Nyko’s controller, this Snakebyte design looks similar to Nintendo’s. It is the same size, shape and weight of the original Nintendo model and is encased in a similar white presentation. Physically, the biggest differences are the “-,” “+,” and Power buttons. Instead of the indented Nintendo design, this device features rubberized buttons that actually protrude above the face frame. While this made hitting the – and + buttons a little easier, the Power button might get in the way of some users when holding the remote like a NES controller.
The 1 and 2 buttons are also arch shaped as opposed to the original rounded style. The LED lights on the bottom of the controller are also placed in an arch and the little Snakebyte logo is marked at the bottom of the unit which gives the unit a unique sense of branding. The “A” and “B” buttons feel almost exactly the same as Nintendo’s design but the D-pad is a little different. In this case, I don’t think calling it better or worse accurately describes this D-pad; I think using the term “different” is more suitable. It seems to allow for more detailed angled control but at the same time, feels a little hollow and cheap. The same goes for the rest of the unit – it looks ok but most of the buttons feel a little too hollow and of cheaper quality.
Perhaps the biggest change from this controller to the 1st party version is the addition of an external sync button. While this makes syncing easier I am not sure it is totally necessary. I mean, how often do you really need to re-sync your controller? But even though the external sync button isn’t a make or break deal, I think that the battery door is. On the 1st party controllers, the user simply just uses a finger to snap up the rear battery door to swap dead batteries. Here in the Snakebyte design, the user actually has to be bothered with the use of a screwdriver (which again is included). I have never had a single issue with the 1st party battery cover coming loose during gameplay so having to use a screwdriver to swap batteries is definitely a pain.
This might sound a little strange, but this controller actually works exactly the way that it should. Many times with 3rd party hardware, things can be a bit wacky and unpredictable. But I had no issues with syncing, using the IR sensor, nunchuk compatibility, and had no problems when using it with Motion Plus supported software. Even when placed on a flat surface, the main menu finger pointer icon was very solid and sturdy. When this test was done with other third party controllers, the finger icon would shake in place, providing inaccuracies. In comparison to the Nintendo brand Wii remote, this XL version provided a very similar experience. The compacted shape also feels a lot less bulky as compared to the length of the Wii Motion Plus dongle attachment.
This device looks and feels similar to the Nintendo design, but there are two categories that are unquestionably inferior: the remote’s speaker and rumble functionality. The Wii remote speaker isn’t exactly high quality to begin with but everything just has a more walkie-talkie unclear quality to it. The speaker also seems to be much louder than it needs to be. This is also accompanied with a terrible rumble motor. In fact, you can hear the rumble more than you can feel it. Luckily, these two features are the least important when it comes to Wii remote functionality but definitively contains the lowest amount of quality.
For about $10 less than the Nintendo design, this Snakebyte model provides a decent alternative for those gamers on a budget. The inclusion of rechargeable AA batteries makes the price difference all the more tolerable especially since no charging dock is needed. Sure, using a screwdriver to swap batteries is a pain and the speaker and rumble functionality are lower quality, but this unit is still a decent buy. If I had my choice, I would still choose the first party Nintendo design over this Snakebyte model, but that doesn’t mean that this device should be overlooked, especially if you are on a tighter budget.
– bundled with plenty of extras (USB, screwdriver, rechargeable batteries, two wrist straps and comes in easy to open package design)
– a third party controller that actually works with no issues!
– USB port has further potential for PC use and can be used to charge batteries
– just about same weight, size and style of Nintendo’s design
– external sync button makes syncing a little easier
– about $10 cheaper than Nintendo’s product
– no condom-style case included
– using a screwdriver to change the batteries is a pain
– face buttons feel cheaper and hollow
– speaker is inferior quality
– rumble feature is terrible
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