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There are a lot of Nintendo Wii accessories out there that claim to be absolute necessities. But who really needs a lightsaber-shaped extension for a Wiimote or a set of boxing gloves that you can attach your Wiimote and Nunchuck to? Some accessories look cool, but aren't really that functional, while others don't seem that necessary, but improve the Wii gaming experience immensely.
Our guide will help you sort through them all by providing a set of recommendations for great accessories and a list of useless items to avoid.
First, the good:
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Wiimote Controller and Nunchuck
The Nintendo Wii is a fantastic multiplayer gaming system. That is, unless you've only got one controller. Anyone planning to enjoy the Wii's multiplayer offerings is going to need a second Wiimote controller and a second Nunchuck add on. Passing the controller is not an option for most of the Wii's games, so you're going to need a second setup for your buddies to use.
The Wiimote retails for about 40 bucks, and the Nunchuck will set you back another 20, but you can't really put a price on multiplayer bliss, can you?
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Controller Charging Station
Once you've picked up that second controller, you're going to want some way to power them both. Sure, you can go to Costco and buy a 100 pack of AA batteries, but that's expensive (not to mention annoying). The best bet in the long run is to pick up a charging station for your controllers.
Most of these units come with the charging station itself and a pair of replacement batteries for your Wiimote controllers. Simply place the Wiimotes on the base when you're not playing and you'll always have fully-charged controllers for when you want to jump into a game of Mario Kart with a friend.
Most of the charge stations plug directly into the Wii via a USB port, requiring the system to be in standby mode to charge them. If standby is not for you, try and find a charge station that plugs directly into the wall.
Check out page two for Virtual Console necessities and some Wii accessories that are completely worthless.
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Probably the biggest drawback to the Nintendo Wii is its lack of graphical prowess. Its main competitors (the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3) have much more powerful graphics processors, and the Wii can look downright last-generation by comparison.
Ensure that you're getting the best possible picture from your system by connecting it to your television with a set of component cables. The Wii doesn't support full HD graphics, but you can play your favorite games in 480p with the right setup. If you own a HDTV you owe it to yourself to pick up some component cables for your Wii. Connecting anything to a fancy TV using A/V cables is just wrong.
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Nintendo Points and the Classic Controller: Virtual Console Necessities
If you're planning on playing any of the great games available on the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console (and you should be), then you're going to need a few essential pieces to get started. The first is a Nintendo Points card. Available for 20 bucks or so, these points are the currency of the Virtual Console. You won't be downloading any great N64 or SNES games without them.
Once you've chosen a game or two to download, you're probably going to notice that most of them are incompatible with the Wiimote/Nunchuck control setup. You're going to need either a Gamecube controller (they plug right into the top of the Wii) or a Classic Controller to plug into your Wiimote. Used Gamecube controllers can be picked up fairly cheaply, and a Classic Controller is going to run you about 20 bucks.
Now that we've checked out the must-have Wii accessories, let's take a look at some that are almost completely unnecessary.
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The Wiimote fits pretty comfortably into most people's hands. It works great for all kinds of games, shooters included. If you absolutely need to feel a gun in your hand when playing games like House of the Dead: Overkill, then I guess you should pick up a Wii Zapper. The rest of us will do just fine without it.
Page 3 has more Wii accessories to avoid, including one many gamers think is essential, but is actually pretty much worthless.
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One little-known fact of the Nintendo Wii (at least to new owners of the system) is that it has 512mb of internal memory. This means you can save games and download Virtual Console games directly to the console, no memory card needed. This goes against everything we as gamers learned from the PS2/Gamecube era, but it is actually pretty smart of Nintendo.
The Wii has a slot for an SD card, but the average gamer is going to have very little use for one. You can backup saves and Virtual Console games to an SD card, but there is probably very little chance you're ever going to need to. 512mb is plenty of memory for the average gamer, and if you start to approach the storage limit, chances are there are some old game saves you can get rid of to make room.
The SD card is great for getting pictures onto your Wii or for moving game saves from system to system, but that's about all you'll need it for.
Especially worthless are the Wii-branded SD cards. An SD card is an SD card. You don't need to get one that claims to be specificially for the Wii.
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The best argument I've seen against the Wii Wheel is an instructional video I saw just after the release of Mario Kart Wii. A guy basically taped a Wiimote to a metal pie pan and played Mario Kart Wii with absolutely no problems. So, I guess it's up to you, but I'd rather spend 50 cents on a pie pan than 20 bucks on an official Nintendo wheel when the experience is the same.
Personally, I don't understand why everyone doesn't just use the Wiimote/Nunchuck setup for the game, as the control is much better. That, or just hold the Wiimote sideways.
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Wii LAN Adapter
The Nintendo Wii, like the Playstation 3, has built-in wireless network support. If you have an existing wireless network (and who doesn't, these days?), you can quickly and easily connect your Nintendo Wii to the internet. The LAN adapter is only for those who absolutely need to plug their Wii into an ethernet cable.
It's completely worthless to anyone with a wireless router setup in their home.
The Nintendo Wii is a very popular console. Accordingly, there are a lot of companies out there trying to piggyback on its success by releasing all manner of useless accessories for the system. Hopefully, we've helped you sort through the deluge and select the few must-have accessories for the system.