It looks funny, but how does it feel when holding it?
During our hotel appointment with Nintendo, I got the chance to try out the newly-redesigned Wii Zapper with Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. We'll have coverage of the zombie shooter later this week, but first I wanted to tell you how the new-gen gun handled.
When it was first shown, it looked a little strange. Holding it in my hands confirmed that initial impression. The front prong is the primary grip that includes an extended trigger that presses up against the B Trigger on the Wii remote when it is snapped into place. That trigger isn't quite as tight as the trigger on the remote, and it's not optimally placed like a real gun trigger would be. The nunchuk mount on the back side is where the second hand goes, and it lets you move and shoot at the same time, something most other light guns make impossible. Part of what makes holding the Wii Zapper strange is that you've essentially got two triggers: The main trigger in the front, and the Z Button on the nunchuk, on which your other finger naturally resides. And it feels more like a gun trigger than does the main trigger.
On top of that, the grips of the Zapper are closer to each other than I would like them to be. The point of holding a gun in two places is to support and stabilize it. The compactness of the design makes it feel like you've got a shotgun with both hands in the middle instead of how you'd normally hold it. If the design was a one-handed one like seen in the prototype, this would have been fine. If the design were more like a shotgun, with hands placed further apart, this would have also been fine. But what I held at E3 was something between a pistol and a shotgun. It's not the best of both worlds, but it's not the worst of both, either.
The way it is designed, however, lets you do perform all the regular functions that you would need to do with the remote. The two-grip layout makes it easy to roll the entire structure about the Z-axis (the axis that goes through the remote and the TV screen) or quickly yaw the controller pointer off the screen to the side if a game requires a reload in such a fashion. (RE:UC only requires a simple shake to reload a gun.) It feels natural to move the analog stick around. The A Button is a bit of a stretch from the natural front grip position, but you can get to it if you need to. I don't think it would be easy to hit A and B at the same time rapidly, however.
I personally hope that Nintendo reconsiders the design of this thing before releasing it to the public with its mysterious $20 pack-in game. It's great that Nintendo is dedicating a housing to highlight the gun-like properties of the Wiimote, but based on the brief time I've used it, I would rather use the remote by itself.
Capcom's Umbrella Chronicles and Sega's Ghost Squad are Zapper-compatible games that will be on the show floor. We'll have impressions of them later in the week.