July 14, 2006 - The Big N has been relatively hush-hush about the details of its innovative new Wii console and controller, choosing to release information during major events and then going quiet on the subject. But in official Wii developer documentation obtained by IGN, the company defines many of the hardware specifics and functionalities for its upcoming Wii controllers. We have some of those revelations below.
One of the big questions about the Wii-mote has remained how it will be powered. Official documentation on the topic offers some answers. The pointer will accept two AA alkaline batteries, which will keep it going for a considerable amount of time. If the precision aim functionality of the pointer is being used in games, the device will run for approximately 30 hours. If only the accelerometer functionality is being utilized, the Wii-mote will operate for 60 hours on two AA batteries.
The controller communicates with the Wii console via Bluetooth technology on a 2.4GHz band.
The Wii-mote features 6KB of "non-volatile" memory, whose exact purpose remains a mystery. IGN Wii speculates that this throwaway memory could possibly be used in conjunction with the Wii-mote's recently revealed internal speaker. It's also possible that this memory could enable players to store custom settings for the controller. However, official documentation does not specify one way or the other. In fact, Nintendo is currently offering developers no means to interact with the controller's internal speaker despite showing off games such as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which spotlighted the hardware feature at E3 2006 in Los Angeles.
Recent photos of the Wii console's front flap showcase a button called SYNCHRO, whose purpose seems fairly obvious. The SYNCHRO button is, according to documentation, used to identify Wii controllers that can be used with the console. It assigns each controller a wireless ID number. Evidently gamers first press the SYNCHRO button on the console itself and then find and press another SYNCHRO button located inside the battery compartment of the Wii controller. Documentation also suggests that gamers can hold down the 1 and 2 buttons on the Wii-mote to accomplish the same task.
All of the buttons on the Wii controller are digital in nature. This includes (obviously) the D-Pad, as well as A, B, 1, 2, -, +, Power and SYNCHRO. The C and Z buttons on the nunchuk unit are also digital.
The sensor bar that interacts with the Wii-mote must be placed "above or below" the television set. The bar itself is about 20 centimeters in diameter and features two sensors, one on each end.
The Wii-mote's LEDs serve two roles. The first is to show which player is communicating with the console at a given moment. Player 1 will light up on the far left, Player 2 the next over, and so on. The second purpose is to illustrate battery life. Upon booting up, four LEDs blink when the controller has between 75% and full power. Three LEDs blink to show 50% and 75% power. Two LEDs blink to show 25% and 50% power. And one LED blinks to illustrate anything below that.
The Wii-mote features a built-in rumble motor that can be turned on or off. It does not offer varying degrees of rumble sensitivity. However, according to documentation, more intense vibrations can be simulated if developers rapidly trigger the motor on and off.
Light sources from fluorescent and halogen lamps, plastic, mirrors and more may occasionally interfere with the pointer, based on official documentation. To eliminate this interference, the pointer must identify the sensor bar and mark its two coordinates. When pointing with the Wii-mote, the unit is actually interacting with the sensor bar, which then translates data to the television, in effect simulating a direct aim to the television.
Interestingly, according to documentation the Wii-mote is able to act as something of an eye, measuring coordinates between 0-1023 on the X axis and 0-767 on the Y axis, which means that it is more or less seeing a megapixel image. Whether or not this data can be interrupted into visual information remains unknown, but we're not ruling out the possibility that the pointer could sub as a camera. This is, of course, purely speculative on our part, but stranger things have certainly happened - like, for instance, an internal speaker.
Developers tell IGN Wii that they are expecting to get classic Wii controllers in early September, which suggests that Nintendo is serious about providing this third input alternative for Virtual Console endeavors.
We contacted Nintendo of America for comments on our latest findings.
"There are many details that we've divulged about the console, but there is also more to learn," said the subsidiary's PR
manager, Matt Atwood, in a telephone conversation. "However, Nintendo does not comment on rumors or speculation."
Nintendo's new generation console is officially set to launch sometime before the Thanksgiving holiday. However, rumors persist that the machine could debut as early as late October. Nintendo is expected to hold a briefing in September to reveal price and release date. IGN Wii will have more on the system as information becomes available.