Nintendo Wii Zapper Review
Has the first-party gun bracket improved since E3?
by Gerry Block
November 16, 2007 - Way back at E3 2006, months before the Wii launched that fall, Nintendo showed off a pretty cool looking prototype of a possible design for a Wii Zapper. The pistol-like design looked sexy and highly reminiscent of the original Zapper for the NES. Somewhat disappointingly however, the pistol was dropped in favor of a new tommy-gun looking design that premiered at E3 2007 to rather under whelmed hands on reports.
Today we've finally got the hardware in the office for official review, and unfortunately, nothing has changed. Our big complaint with the Wii Zapper has always been the fact that Nintendo pursued the tommy gun layout, which is the cause of every one of the Zapper's problems. The biggest of these is the implementation of a plastic trigger in the forward grip that presses against the Wiimote's own B trigger. In use this connection doesn't work well, as the mechanical trigger has a very squishy, imprecise throw that makes it really difficult to tell when the actual button is depressed. The issue is exacerbated in gameplay moments that require rapid shooting, as all too often the trigger doesn't fully extend in between shots, which mean you'll only end up getting about half as many bullets or cross bow bolts out of your weapon as you think you should.
Back at E3 we weren't permitted to take the Zapper apart, so we assumed Nintendo hadn't put a strong enough spring in between the mechanical trigger and the Wiimote trigger. Now that we've got a Zapper in hand, we've discovered there is no spring at all, which we believe may be the whole problem since there is not enough force to make the triggers go through their entire range of motion during rapid fire moments. We've got some plans to do a bit of modding to add a spring ourselves, so stay tuned to see what difference that makes.
The other problem the tommy gun layout causes is the fact that it's pretty much impossible to access any of the face buttons on the Wiimote when it's in the Zapper bracket, at least with the speed that's require for gameplay. This makes the Zapper useless with games like Red Steel and CoD, which is disappointing.
To Nintendo's credit, the Zapper is by far the highest quality lightgun bracket available in terms of general build quality. The white plastic is lightly textured in grip areas and feels high quality overall. The Wiimote is secured quite well via a pair of grey plastic spring-loaded hooks that latch into it in the holes to either side of the Nunchuck connection point. The Nuncuck, too, is nicely secured in its place by plastic shivs that extend into the screw recesses. A protected wire run leads from the Nunchuck and into a space behind the forward grip where it can be coiled conveniently before jutting out the side to make the connection to the Wiimote.
Were the Zapper sold individually, we might suggest avoiding it in favor of a more adaptable third-party model. Such is not the case however, as the Zapper is bundled with Link's Crossbow Training, which is tons of fun. As such, we're pretty sure the Zapper will find its way into masses of homes. The telling issue will be how long owners will care to use it before abandoning the bracket altogether in favor of free hand shooting. We suspect not long.
Spoiler Alert!IGN's Ratings for Nintendo Wii Zapper
out of 10
Squishy mechanical trigger has a major impact on the useful performance of the Zapper.
9.0 Build Quality
The highest of any Wii lightgun bracket.
10 Ease of Use
Seating the Wiimote and Nunchuck in the Zapper bracket is easy as cake.
$20 for just the Zapper would be a burn. $20 for the Zapper and Link's Crossbow Training is a steal.
Tommy gun shape isn't the most comfortable. Trying to shoot fast gets tiring very quickly because of the squishy trigger.
(out of 10 / not an average)