First Looks: SMC CyWee 3D Controller
A WiiMote for your PC
The SMC CyWee 3D Controller is like the lovechild of a Logitech MX Air Mouse and a Nintendo WiiMote. It uses the same technology found in the Wiimote (3-axis accelerometer), and it even has the 2-axis gyroscope found in the Wii Motion Plus. Its basic shape is the same as the Wiimote, but with the addition of a joint that lets it swivel into a boomerang. Instead of the Wii’s sensor bar, the 3D Controller uses a wireless USB connection of CyWee’s own design that allows up to four such 3D controllers to be connected at the same time.
Setting up the 3D Controller as an air mouse is as simple as plugging in the USB receiver and turning it on. If you want to use it for games though, some configuration is required. Similar to the custom mapping available with many gaming mice, the 3D Controller has a UI that lets you create game profiles and then remap keys to the 3D Controller. You can map all seven buttons found on the controller (a 4 way D-Pad, one button on top, one button below, and a trigger), as well as basic motions, e.g. left to right, or even advanced motions, e.g. clockwise quarter-circle from top to right.
It takes some trial and error to work out the best way to configure your games, but the option to fully customize and map your actions gives the 3D controller a nice advantage over the Wii experience.
The controller comes packaged with CyWee Sports (a Wii Sports knock off) as well as Rayman Raving Rabbids for PC. With the controller in the standard bar shape, both titles played pretty much like how they would on the Wii, and neither required any sort of pre-configuration. The response from the controller was top notch; on par with the Motion Plus.
As for other games, the 3D Controller is obviously not ideal for anything requiring precise mouse control or a lot of keyboard commands. However, its swivel shape does make it suitable for racing and shooting games. Trying out Burnout Paradise, it took us a few minutes to configure the controls (tilt forward for accelerate, tilt back for brake, left and right to steer, trigger for nitro) but once we were done, the 3D Controller handled the game quite well. The boomerang shape lets you hold it like a steering wheel making it very similar to playing Mario Kart Wii using the wheel peripheral.
FPS was a little trickier. While its shape makes for a comfortable gun, most modern FPS games have too many advanced commands, and the 3D Controller just doesn't have enough buttons for all of them. In theory, it’s possible if you map everything to specific motions, but the reality of that was very frustrating.
The 3D Controller is an interesting input device for the PC that replicates the Nintendo Wii experience really well. The accuracy of the motion sensor is truly impressive and the ability to customize your motion mapping is great. Having said that, it’s unlikely to revolutionize PC gaming. It’s only really suitable for a few genres, and at S$199, it’s a fun addition to your collection of gaming peripherals; not likely to win you international fame and glory.