The Wii Zapper is a new accessory for the Nintendo Wii and is basically a ‘cradle’ that turns your controller into something more resembling a gun. You’ve got to love Nintendo for sticking religiously to their ‘game consoles are toys’ mantra and devising monikers as if they’ve hired a 4-year old to naming everything! One consequence of this tactic, of course, is to make things appear more lighthearted, and fun, which is exactly the kind of association Nintendo seeks.
Videogaming peripherals – by which we mean optional accessories for gaming, such as flight controller joysticks, lightguns, steering wheels and pedals, that kind of thing – have a fairly rollercoaster history of success. Most of them are pretty shonky, on account of not being crowned ‘official’ accessories, and therefore also not subject to even cursory quality controls and inspection by the maker of whatever games console the thing is designed for.
But even the officially-endorsed stuff can be very hit and miss, so it’s a relief, on pulling the Wii Zapper out of its stylish packaging, to find that the unit itself is well built and thoughtfully designed. We say ‘thoughtfully’ because, while setting up the Zapper is a bit long-winded and not really possible without at least the smallest un-macho sideways glance at the instruction manual, once you get it rigged correctly, everything just ‘fits’ very well. The regular Wii Remote simply slides and clicks into place at the front of the unit, becoming the ‘barrel’ of your new weapon, and the Nunchuk remote slips into the back of the cradle, increasing the bulk of the handle, or stock.
Happily, there’s a game included in the box when you buy the Wii Zapper, called ‘Link’s Crossbow Training’. Now, given that ‘training’ is in the game name, it seems mean-spirited to harp on about how Link’s Crossbow Training isn’t really a ‘proper’ game and has very limited appeal, so we’ll leave it at that. What the bundled game does do, is give the new Zapper owner a good introduction to the peripheral using some very familiar gaming territory – namely The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Link’s Crossbow Training takes visuals from the bigger Zelda game, but it doesn’t go much further than that.
There are three game modes, allowing you to practice, go for a big score in some single player target shooting or play against friends in multiplayer. Three game types lend some variety to the gameplay but, essentially, you’re doing much the same thing in each, aiming at targets and, to add a bit of spice, being awarded higher scores for hitting targets in a row, or specially-designated ones.
So if you’re the type of Nintendo Wii owner who was wrapped about getting the sweatband gift pack and bag when you bought your machine, or couldn’t wait to go out and pick up the golf stick accessory because it made you feel more like you were playing with a golf club, the Wii Zapper is right up your alley. It’s actually slightly more challenging to master than just using the remote in the normal way, but that just all adds to the excitement, no doubt, and Link’s Crossbow Training is a fun way to learn how to use it.