Nintendo WAVEBIRD GameCube Controller -

Game Hardware Feature Review

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  • Hardware Type: Wireless RF Controller
  • Console: GameCube
  • Manufacturer: Nintendo
  • Power Supply: 2 AA Batteries
  • Reviewer's Wild Card: A+

Nintendo WAVEBIRD GameCube Controller

Nintendo's new wireless controller flys high

By James Stevenson     June 20, 2002

GameCube with wireless Wavebird controller
© 2001 Reuters

Remember the days of the NES, worrying about the dog wandering through the controller cables, tangles, and always having to wrap the cord around and around to avoid it? I actually remember one night losing an entire saved season of SUPER TECMO BOWL right before the Super Bowl due to a bad step on the part of my uncle into a set of controller cords. Even the occasional problem will arise when you can't play as far away as you'd like, or a sudden jerk brings a console crashing down.

No more. Nintendo has done away with all of the pesky cords with its newest videogame controller, the WAVEBIRD. Talked about for a long time, and now finally on store shelves, the WAVEBIRD is a standard first party controller (albeit a little heavier and a tiny bit bigger) that uses an RF signal to transmit signals to a receiver plugged into the controller port.

Wireless controllers before this one have, quite frankly, blown. Many of them used IF signals that required pesky line of sight, lots of battery juice and probably couldn't keep up with today's analog control. But Nintendo's use of radio frequencies, a pair of AA batteries (included) and 16 different frequencies gives gamers a dead on perfect experience with the controller.

At this point, the question begs to be asked, "Is this too good to be true?" The answer is definitely no. The WAVEBIRD has an advertised reach of 20 ft.; in actuality, this is more in the range of at least 50 ft, possibly quite higher depending on your circumstances. I'm not sure how battery life will relate to this, but Nintendo promises 100 hours of gameplay on 2 AA batteries (how this figure is arrived at I'm not sure, and we'll follow up if there is anything untrue about this claim). No line of sight is required, you can play from behind a wall, under blankets (my personal favorite hearkening back to hiding plays in the SUPER TECMO BOWL days) or even from another room.

Ok, maybe I lied, for there is one drawback to the WAVEBIRD besides its slightly higher price and battery usage (you have rechargeable batteries for your Game Boy Advance, right?). The only real big thing that will turn some people off to this gem is the fact that it doesn't include a rumble motor. This helps significantly with the battery usage issue but doesn't let you feel the hits like you normally would. At this point, it's not a big deal (having force-feedback is a novelty), however there is the possibility that a game in the future might use it as part of the gameplay so the regular controller may still hold an edge here.

Even multiple controllers can hook up without interference due to the changeable channels (best to space the controllers out on the channel frequencies though). I haven't experienced any interference with my 900 MHz cordless phone either (I'm assuming that the controllers run on 900 MHz - it would be the most logical and least expensive option).

Put simply, the WAVEBIRD's minor shortcoming of lack of force-feedback does not even come close to outweighing the benefits of being loosed from your console. This is the controller of choice for GameCube owners, and a must-buy.

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