Memorex Wii Racing Wheel Review
Nintendo Wii accessories run the gamut from useful to puzzling as manufacturers attempt to cash in on the popularity of the console and player need to buy plastic widgits. When Mario Kart Wii released a few years ago and included a steering wheel accessory in the package I questioned the need to snap my wii-remote into a shell and play like I was driving. Strangely I discovered that I preferred the plastic shell when dodging red shells and cranking into a power slide. Memorex continues the Wii snap on game with an upgraded version of that same driving wheel shell, the question is, what makes it different from the one most Mario Kart owners already have and is it worth the cash to upgrade or change?
Plastic snap-ons for the Wii have flooded the market in the last few years, everything from plastic tennis rackets, gold clubs and bowling balls to lightsabers, blaster rifles and steering wheels. The majority only serve to enhance the role-play of swinging the Wii-remote about while playing. Memorex’s Racing wheel for Wii is another role-play accessory that is not mandatory for enjoyment of the racing games on the system, but it is an upgrade from the Mario Kart bundled shell.
This Racing wheel features molded rubber hand grips at the 10 and 2 positions to help keep gamers oriented while driving. One of the big issues I’ve observed when watching younger players using the Nintendo wheel is that they often get excited and let the wheel rotate or start out games with a bad orientation because of the lack of such a design feature. The Memorex’s hand grips are soft and pliable and feel durable. The hard, smooth white plastic of the device also feels a bit heavier and more durable than its Nintendo counterpart.
One of the larger drawbacks to using the old wheel with the newer enhanced Wii Motion Plus is that the shell was never designed to accommodate the accessory. Memorex has remedied that by adding a removable panel on the bottom of the racing wheel where you can easily snap in a Wii Motion Plus sensor. This accessory bay links to the Wii-remote at the heart of the shell. Speaking of the core controllers, the Racing Wheel also recognizes and corrects one of my biggest concerns over the original shell design – the side of the wheel slides out to allow the controller to be inserted easily and then slides back to lock in the accessory port used to communicate with the Wii Motion Plus. This addition, even for those not using the Motion Plus accessory helps secure the controller in the wheel, making it less likely to fly out during a heated race.
One last feature that is an enhancement from Nintendo’s original is the more robust “B” trigger button on the wheel. The new trigger has a better springy feel and really did seem to make a difference when I was playing using it.
Ultimately whether the Wii Racing Wheel by Memorex is a good buy for you really depends on if you’re a frequent racing game player. It is an improvement over the Nintendo shell and offers in-built support for the Wii Motion Plus, which Nintendo does not. The grips feel better than the molded white plastic and there is a better sense of weight to this version of the shell.
The Memorex Racing Wheel for Wii has a suggested retail price of $9.99 (or as a Family pack of 3 for $29.99) and is available for purchase online and at major retailers. It is also available in multiple colors for those who like to color coordinate their Wii accessories to their wardrobe.