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What Is MotionPlus?

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Over a year after it was announced at E3, we've finally got our hands on the Wii MotionPlus add-on, and on the first batch of games that exploit it. Ever since the Wii launched in late 2006, there's been a feeling that the motion-sensitive technology that is its key selling point hasn't quite lived up to expectations. Sure, we've had fun with our virtual tennis rackets, golf clubs, snooker cues and light sabres, but where was the pinpoint accuracy and lifelike movement Nintendo led us to believe would be ours?

MotionPlus is an attempt to put his right; a compact, snap-on module that helps the technology built into the Wii remote and the console itself get a more accurate picture of where the remote is in the 3D space in front of the screen, and the exact angle and position it's being held in. The result should be, theoretically, a new generation of realistic Wii games, giving the player more scope for genuine skill and finesse, and simulation games a closer approximation of that real-world feel. Does it work? We're about to find out.
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The module itself is surprisingly small and light, adding approximately 4cm to the end of the remote, and weighing a little less than 20g. It snaps easily onto the expansion port at the bottom of the remote, with the catches disengaged by two buttons on the side for quick release. To stop this happening in game, there's a sliding lock on the back of the unit. A pass-through is provided at the bottom to allow you to connect your nunchuk, while a new protective jacket is provided to cover the extra length and prevent careless players from smashing your new LCD or plasma screen. Physically, that's all there is to it.

Behind the scenes, it's known that MotionPlus adds a special dual-axis angular rate sensor to the remote's existing accelerometers and IR transceiver. Not only can this give a more accurate picture of the linear movement of the controller, it also provides more accurate data on the rotation of the device. This particular function is key to the new MotionPlus games, as we'll see in a minute. Currently, just three games support the accessory, but later on this month we'll see Wii Sports Resort, with fencing, jetski and frisbee-throwing activities, and a rnumber of other MotionPlus-compatible games are on their way.

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