While its HD rivals amass FPS after FPS, the Nintendo Wii tends to attract the alternative shooter genres. Arcade-style, Side-scrolling, On-Rails, and several other alternative parts of the genre tend to flock to the Wii. You have the Arcade-stylized exclusive, The Conduit, awesome collection of Arcade hits Metal Slug Anthology, as well as on-rail shooter gems like Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles, Dead Space Extraction, Ghost Squad, House of the Dead 2 & 3, and House of the Dead: Overkill. For those not obsessed with gritty, realistic FPSs, the Wii is heaven.
It’s been said before and it will be said again – the Wii remote with its IR pointer is perfect for the shooter genre. Rivaling the likes of the PC mouse and light-gun arcade cabinets – the Wii’s precise, intuitive controls are top-notch. For those unconvinced and in need of a sample, Nintendo released the Wii Zapper. And, in typical Nintendo fashion, they gave us a pack-in game to give the Wii Zapper a spin with. Is the Wii Zapper the new sheriff in town or is it just a pretender with a six-shooter?
Spotting the Wii Zapper on sale not too long ago, I couldn’t help but snatch it up. Taking it out of the package, I was greeted by the familiar crisp, white material of other first-party Wii accessories. Holding it in my hands, I honestly expected it to be bigger. Upon inserting the Wii remote and nunchuk into their respective positions, I found the Zapper’s size to be a bit more impressive.
Though originally I wasn’t too keen on the Tommy Gun design, it has grown on me. Perhaps it’s my inherent interest in the Mafia, but whatever the cause, I’ve grown to quite like it. Regardless of opinions on the design choice, the Wii Zapper is clearly well built. A compartment can be found underneath for concealing the nunchuk’s cable and the Wii remote clicks tightly in the top area. The trigger inspires confidence as you take aim at enemies- backed by the Wiimote’s B button.
The ‘Zapper’ series of Nintendo games skipped two generations- not appearing for the N64 or GC. I find it appropriate that the series was revived for the Wii- considering the IR support. The Wii Zapper follows the original Zapper’s emphasis on class, appeal to the eye, and functionality, while incorporating the Super Scope’s durability and steadiness. Then there’s the benefit of the Wii Zapper not requiring batteries- possessing no electronic parts, it’s the Wii remote that shoulders the energy burden. While smartly designed, how does the Wii Zapper perform game-wise? Well, I decided to try it out with some of my compatible games. How did it go?
Link’s Crossbow Training
Why not start with the pack-in game? Starting things off, it already brings a smile to your face to see the familiar imagery of the Twilight Princess world. Link’s Crossbow Training features 3 distinct gameplay styles: an on-rails mode, a 3rd-person action mode, and an over the shoulder defensive mode. Between the three, the Zapper most benefited the defense mode during my playtime. My accuracy was definitely improved by the steadiness of the Zapper when defending my territory as Link. While it helped in the on-rails levels, I just felt limited speed-wise when using it. The jury is still out on the 3rd-person action levels- it’s a toss-up, honestly. The four-player multiplayer is alternating-based and surprisingly fun- clearly developed for families with one Wii Zapper.
While the whole game isn’t compatible, the shooting gallery is. At first I had a distaste for the Wii Zapper here as my speed was once again limited. However, I soon found that the loss of mobility was in actuality an exchange for accuracy. Upon reaching falling soda cans, I managed to destroy them all without letting a single one fall. An impressive feat for the Wii Zapper.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Reflex Edition
While not much of a fan of the Call of Duty games, I decided to pick up Reflex upon seeing a good deal on it. Switching to the Wii Zapper control-scheme was fairly awkward. The main issue was that now there was competitive tension- other humans were my targets. While the Zapper again improved my accuracy, the trade-off for maneuverability was unwanted. I found that the Zapper wasn’t as limiting when playing a team-based game where I had cover-fire, but Free-For-Alls were always a struggle.
House of the Dead 2 & 3
Sega did a great job with this Arcade-collection- as did Nintendo with the Zapper here. Early levels of survival horror flew by and more difficult ones weren’t as annoying. The added sensitivity in aiming helped me to take different story paths more easily and deal with some of the more terrifying enemies. The two House of the Dead titles played best among those I tried.
Downloaded on a whim earlier this year, this water-based shooter from Hudson has amused me quite a bit. The game gives you water guns, pails of water, sand castles, park fixtures, and so-on instead of the typical shooter features. How does the Zapper play? Surprisingly well- better in fact than the regular control scheme. I found myself wasting much less water thanks to the improved accuracy and less time was spent rushing to the water fountain to reload. The gameplay was much improved by the steadying nature of the Wii Zapper. Even hoping online for some Versus modes wasn’t the hassle it was with CoD: Reflex.
All in all, I’m happy with my Wii Zapper purchase. It isn’t perfect, but it does offer a number of benefits. The improved accuracy and steadiness that it brings to the table should improve shooters that don’t focus too much on hectic, run & gun gameplay. Anyone looking to ease into the genre on Wii should be advised to pick up the Wii Zapper and the included Link’s Crossbow Training. It’s worth the $20.