If you’ve spent much time playing games on the Wii, you’ve probably
noticed the console’s remote-style controller isn’t the most nuanced
device on the planet. It’s fine for bowling, but gamers hoping for
realistic swordplay or lightsaber combat have been disappointed by such
offerings as “Red Steel” and “Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber
Duels.” Rather than thrusting and parrying, you’re left to execute
simplistic gestures while your on-screen avatar gets to have all the
fun.

Nintendo has been working on a solution to the Wii’s somewhat imprecise
controls for a while now, having announced a peripheral called Wii
MotionPlus back at E3 in July. This week, Nintendo set a release date
for MotionPlus, which connects to the bottom of the Wii remote using
the same jack as the Nunchuk or Classic Controller. The little
cube-shaped add-on, which will still allow you to connect those
aforementioned peripherals to your remote, will go on sale June 8 for
$20.

Early adopters who pick up MotionPlus upon release will immediately be
able to put it to use with Sega’s “Virtua Tennis 2009,” which releases
May 19. Electronic Arts’ “Grand Slam Tennis,” due out a week after
MotionPlus, will also use the peripheral, but patient Wii owners will
probably want to wait until the end of June, when they can pick up
MotionPlus bundled with Nintendo’s own “Wii Sports Resort” for $50. The
game-bundled-with-hardware approach Nintendo is taking with the first
bona fide sequel to “Wii Sports” will sell millions of copies and bring
gamers countless hours of fun. The strategy worked brilliantly with
“Wii Play,” which comes bundled with a Wii remote, so you can’t fault
Nintendo for trying it again.

Still, the decision to have the first MotionPlus titles be casual
sports games strikes me as a bit odd and makes me wonder whether
MotionPlus’ sophistication makes programming more complicated. Tennis
games and minigame compilations like “Wii Sports Resort” are the status
quo Wii remote’s bread and butter. There’s no doubt that the Wii
remote, as-is, works just fine for these kinds of games. It’d have been
nice to see Nintendo stray a little further from its comfort zone when
rolling out Wii MotionPlus. Rather than judge the peripheral based on
initial reviews, I’ll be watching to see how later titles fare.