sensor bar. A small plastic box containing the world’s longest and thinnest cable. Any Wii owner who has had to move their console will be annoyed. What was it good for?
The Sensor Bar doesn’t have much. A small device that emits some infrared light. Point the Wii remote at one and it will recognize where the TV is. It’s not high tech. Famously, that function can be duplicated with two candles. Inexpensive, cheerful and reliable.
The Wii’s motion controls weren’t always implemented in a particularly complementary way. Anyone who has to actively wiggle the remote to perform special moves or tilt the controller to perform complex aerial maneuvers will be happy to know that. But has anyone had problems with pointing?
The concept of pointing and clicking dates back to early electronic games. It goes back further to the click of the mouse in adventure and strategy games, as well as the click of the trigger inspired by early light gun games and electronic shooting ranges. Ten years prior to launching the NES Zapper, Nintendo had already run an electronic clay pigeon-shooting business out of an abandoned bowling alley, and later launched a home game that projects flying ducks onto players’ walls. Pointing and shooting are more deeply etched into Nintendo’s DNA than the D-Pad, and represent some of their first forays into electronic entertainment.
Super Scope’s limited commercial impact and concerns about representing itself as a family-friendly brand prevented Nintendo from getting their hands on the technology for about a decade and a half afterward, but the light gun was a huge success in arcades at the time. . Through games from developers such as Namco, Sega, Midway, Taito and Konami.
The Wii’s marketing focus was all on the accelerometer, but the secret was the infrared sensor.
From the pioneering 3D design sensibilities seen in games like Virtua Cop and Time Crisis, to the live-action laserdisc game Mad Dog McCree and who shot johnny rockSilent Scope and police 911. It’s a very important part of gaming history, and one soon forgotten as arcades faded away and consumers replaced old CRTs with HD Ready TVs.
The Wii’s marketing focus was all on the accelerometer, getting people to get up and bowl, dance and generally gesticulate wildly, but the secret sauce was in the infrared sensor. Aiming a crossbow in Twilight Princess (not to mention Link’s Crossbow Training) is very quick and satisfying, and it made navigating the main menu very intuitive, as it brought a whole new genre to consoles. It gives the controller a sense of where the player’s display is allowed for a whole new range of complex motions, and even hard-nosed gaming veterans have come to believe this technology when they see it applied in Metroid Prime Trilogy and Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition. It has been.
Interest in the Wii Remote was so great that Nintendo re-released ‘New Play Control’ versions of various GameCube titles. The success of these titles was varied, but the generally agreed-upon highlight of the series was Pikmin 1 and 2, a new version that uses pointer controls to aim the Pikmin. Pikmin 3.
Pointer controls also encourage porting of older titles such as Light Gun Games, The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return, Ghost Squad, and Mad Dog McCree, as well as point-and-click games such as Broken Sword and Telltale Games’ LucasArts Revival in the Monkey. I did. Island and the Sam & Max series. Even games designed with touchscreens in mind, like Another Code and Trauma Center on the DS, will get pointer-centric sequels on the Wii. A genre that hasn’t been thought of as a viable home console release for years has finally found a home again. This technology led Nintendo to re-release the most iconic light gun game, Duck Hunt, on the Wii U Virtual Console with Wii Remote support.
Look back to 2017. The Wii U had a ‘sensor bar’ built into the GamePad itself to allow for compatibility with the Wii library and off-TV pointer-based play. A mark on Nintendo’s reputation. The Wii is now completely out of fashion and the company wants to distance itself from the brand. There’s no sensor bar on the Switch, and IR functionality is reduced to an infrared sensor on the bottom of the right Joy-Con.
Didn’t you lose something precious there? As the Switch grows in popularity and the eShop expands in titles, quirky games of all kinds find niche audiences. A genre that was considered unmarketable in the 2010s is now thriving. Nintendo brought a port of first party games to consoles that once offered IR pointer support. The Galaxy versions of Pikmin 3 Deluxe and Super Mario 3D All-Stars attempt to replicate the original release’s intuitive and reliable controls via the Joy-Con’s gyroscope, but the lack of a sensor bar lacks a real reference point to maintain accurate tracking. . The Skyward Sword HD is also missing the sensor bar that helps determine gyro-based sword positioning.
To see how much more reliable the infrared technology is, you just need to compare the original World of Goo’s pointing to the switch port. Unless, of course, a bright light source interferes with the sensor bar, really Gamers only play in a damp, dark basement, so they shouldn’t suffer from any inconveniences such as shiny Christmas tree decorations. or sunlight.
IR has its downsides, but they don’t outweigh the upsides. Gyro-based cursors inevitably drift, are less accurate than IR, and require frequent resetting and recalibration. The gyro controls can work well, especially when supplemented with analog aiming like Splatoon or Metroid Prime Remastered, but the Switch doesn’t know where you’re pointing the Joy-Cons or where the TV is. Gyro aiming is a compromise.
IR or not, there may be a future for pointer controls. Gyro supporters are so persistent that even Sony has started supporting the technology in big titles like The Last of Us Part I and God of War Ragnarök. Additionally, light gun fans see a ray of hope as the PC release of The House of the Dead Remake gets support for the Sinden Light Gun, which works on modern TVs as opposed to the NES Zapper and other traditional light guns. Players have discovered that the Switch Joy-Con can work as a stand-in sensor bar. So while Nintendo has given up on the bar itself, it hasn’t completely forgotten about the Switch’s IR technology. It’s just limited to Labo’s novel ‘cameo’ feature. series, Brain Training, 1-2-Switch, and a handful of other titles.
Nintendo has re-released older controllers in the past, allowing Nintendo Switch Online subscribers to use them on the Switch with a selection of Bluetooth versions of the NES, SNES, and N64 pads. We still don’t know exactly how the Pikmin 4 controls on the Switch, but we do miss the accuracy of the old school IR pointing. Perhaps it’s up to us to let Nintendo know we’re still interested in this stuff. Some of us may still get the bitter taste of terms like “waggle” and “shovelware” in our mouths, but maybe we need to readjust them a bit.
If you missed the sensor bar/Wiimote combo’s fine, slender cables and your favorite games, let us know below.