A few months back, we looked at SMC's CyWee’s 3D Controller, a peripheral that imitated a Nintendo Wii Remote for your PC - and also doubled as an Air Mouse. At the time, the 3D Controller was the only peripheral of its kind, but it now has competition in the form of the RedFox Wizbar.
The first thing to note is that the Wizbar operates slightly differently from the 3D Controller. The 3D Controller essentially took over the mouse function of your computer, whereas the Wizbar operates more like a wireless controller - this means that it can't be used as an Air Mouse.
On the other hand, the Wizbar is more faithful to the original Wii Remote being almost identical in size, weight and button placement. It even has the little rounded rectangle on the battery cover where the Nintendo logo would normally go (the Wizbar version is blank), making us think that they might be manufactured in the same factory. The only noticeable difference between the two is the D-Pad: Nintendo uses a single cross-shaped button whereas RedFox uses four, smaller, triangular-shaped buttons. The Wizbar also comes supplied with a Nunchuk attachment very similar to Nintendo's design, the only difference here being the inclusion of finger grooves for a better grip.
Setting up the Wizbar is fairly simple: just plug in the USB receiver and install the drivers. A number of pre-configured games can be launched from the control panel (assuming you already have them installed on your computer) including: Virtua Tennis 2009, Shin Sangoku Musou 4, Kung Fu Panda, Devil May Cry 3 and 4, Need For Speed Pro Street and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Like the 3D Controller, the Wizbar also accepts custom configurations. You can setup a game to be used either with or without the Nunchuk, and the appropriate map will then show you the buttons and basic directional movements available. Unlike the 3D Controller, complex motions (such as clockwise, half circular movements) can’t be configured on the Wizbar, as it lacks the necessary two-axis gyroscope - found in the Wii Motion Plus and 3D Controller - needed for such accurate mapping.
We tried the Wizbar with a number of games and found that Sports and Racing titles were the best suited. While the Wizbar can be configured to work with more complicated games, the lack of precise motion commands limits the number of controls that can be mapped, leaving you to simply wave your hands around to make stuff happen. You can of course use the buttons, but then what's the point? Simple sports games like Virtua Tennis played exactly like the original Wii Sports (without the Motion Plus attachment) and racing games felt like Wii Mario Kart.
The Wizbar is perfect for gamers looking for a Wii experience on their PCs, being an almost perfect replica of the original Nintendo remote. Having said that, it does feel a bit behind the times, as the Wii Motion Plus has greatly improved the Wii’s motion control capabilities and should really be the standard for all future devices. At S$168, it’s also not much cheaper than the 3D Controller’s S$199 (which does have Motion Plus technology), so it really comes down to whether you want a Nunchuk attachment, or superior motion control. We know which one we would pick.