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Your Questions Answered

by Steven Rodriguez - November 12, 2006, 7:21 pm PST

Nintendo vs. Immersion, 480p vs. 576p and The People vs. Wii Controls, all in the final pre-Wii mailbag!

I have a question that is pretty unusual lately: it isn't about the Wii or the DS (at least not specifically).

This issue has been bugging me for a while, but I can't find a clear answer. A while back there was a lawsuit between Immersion and both Sony and Microsoft. Immersion claimed that the rumble feature on the XBOX and Dual-shock/PS2 controllers was a violation of their force-feedback patents, and won in both cases. Microsoft agreed to license the technology, while Sony is still appealing and (according to the rumors) cut rumble out of their PS3 controller entirely in order to spite Immersion.

My question is, where does Nintendo's rumble fit into all this? I have heard conflicting reports. The most common story seems to be that Nintendo's technology differs from Immersions in some fundamental way so that it doesn't fall under the patent, but I can't find out exactly where the differences lie. Others say Nintendo never let it get to the lawsuit stage, settling with Immersion earlier on. I am trying to find out what the real story is, and if it is that Nintendo's technology is different, what exactly are the differences and why did Sony and Microsoft not have them too?

If news site Spong is to be believed Nintendo didn't get caught up in the rumble debacle because Immersion felt Nintendo's technology was different than what Sony and Microsoft were using. So the common story you heard is likely what went down.

One of the factors that might have led to this is that the GameCube controller only has one rumble motor (in the center), while the PS2 and Xbox controllers each had two (one in each grip). There must have been a more significant difference than that, if Immersion didn't bother with Nintendo, however. Honestly, I don't know what it could be.

Bag what’s up?

I have a question regarding the Wiis compatibility with the Logitech Speed force steering wheel. Will there be support for it in the new games released on the Wii? Excite Truck, Need for Speed: Carbon, GT Pro Series … there are loads of racing games on the way. Will I be able to use it???



Wii games only support GameCube controllers if it an individual game is designed to use it. To get native wheel support, games need to be developed with that in mind, too. For a Wii game to support the Speed Force, it needs to be programmed to support regular GameCube controllers and the wheel. The games you mentioned were not, and I doubt any in the future will be. For one, the remote is a great substitute for a wheel. If Logitech wanted to come up with a new, Wii-specific wheel (read: to make more money), they would probably want to make it a powered wireless one in which the remote snaps into.

Of course, you can still use the licensed GameCube wheel on Wii to play GameCube games on the system. But not Wii games. Don't forget that Ubisoft is including a Thrustmaster piece of plastic wheel with Monster 4×4 or GT Pro Series!

hello, gurus.

this site is awesome! i'm a casual, if nintendo-loyal, gameplayer, so forgive me for jumping onto this issue so very late. but i have some remaining concerns about the whole "region-coding" controversy. please bear with me.

one of my cheif interests in owning a wii is its backwards-compatability with gamecube games. my current gc unit (a modded panasonic version purchased from overseas) is apparently on its last legs, and i'd love to be able to play games from my current library on the wii. however, i have lived in japan since i first got my gamecube (and many of the games i play on it), and it would be much more convenient for me to pick up a wii here than to have to go back to the u.s. or send for one.

now, i am completely aware that the new system and games will be "region-locked." i guess my first question has to do with this idea i've heard floating around that japan and the u.s. have now been grouped into the same region -- which, i perhaps naively assume, means that at least between those two countries, there shouldn't be a software compatibility issue from console to console (um, right?). do you have any insight into this possibility?

and, if it is true, would that grouping extend to playing gamecube games from the u.s. on a japanese wii as well? i know this whole region-coding "controversy" is pretty much a dead issue by now, but i couldn't find much info relating to the actual regional groupings, and definitely not to how it would relate to the backwards-compatibility feature of the wii. thanks for any insight you can give me here (and sorry for being such a johnny-come-lately on the issue)!!!


joel sandi

The Japan and North America regions are different for games. GameCube or Wii games from Japan will not work on an American GameCube or Wii, and vice versa. The "same region" you might have heard of is likely the NTSC video format that both territories use. All that means is that a Japanese system can be connected to a television in the United States and display a picture correctly. You'd still need to import games for it to do much of anything else than that, however.

Hi there! Long-time reader, first-time writer here. While I was reading about the component cables for the Wii, I noticed that the specs say that 480p resolution is supported (NTSC progressive) as well as 576p (PAL progressive). This immediately produced a few questions in my mind:

A) If you have an HDTV that supports multiple regional input types (some HD sets support both NTSC and PAL upscaling), could you theoretically get a better picture by using 576p instead of 480p?

B) Can you even get a PAL signal out of a Wii bought in the U.S.? Or would you need to import one?

C) Would you need to import games as well to get support for 576p?

My instincts tell me the answers will be yes, yes, and yes, meaning you could theoretically do it, but it really won't be worth the trouble and expense. Still, I figured there's a good chance that the console hardware is the same across all regions, and you just need to switch output modes in software.

I'm looking forward to seeing the new site , although I admit I'm looking forward to getting a Wii a lot more!

-Michael Bennett

A) Not necessarily. The NTSC signal is 480p at 60hz. The 576p PAL signal does offer a higher resolution, but the trade-off for doing so is a slower refresh rate of 50hz. That makes European games feel "slower" than their U.S. and Japanese counterparts, especially for fast-paced games. It isn't exactly a matter of framerate, just how quickly the frames are displayed on the screen. There's a slight difference between the two. The resolution increase wouldn't be worth the blurrier motion of the video, in my opinion.

And before you ask, you can't have a 576p signal at 60hz. American Wii hardware and Eurpoean Wii hardware have the same processing power, which means if you increase one figure of the spec sheet, you'll need to decrease another somewhere else to compensate. If you pull out your calculator, you'll see what I mean: 480 × 60 = 576 × 50 = 28800 scanlines per second. 576 × 60 would total 34560, which is beyond the capability of the console's video processor.

B) No. Systems are hard-coded to output in the proper video signal for the region they are to be used in. If you really wanted to output a PAL signal, you would need to import a system that supports it. Of course...

C) You'd need to import PAL games. Although developers have been getting better about it over the years, PAL conversions of NTSC games are usually inferior to the original. Plus, games over there take longer to be released. Do you really want to wait to import a game that's already available for purchase at your local store?

I say that if someone in the NTSC region wants to import PAL hardware and software, it would not be worth trouble, expense, waiting, hassle or picture quality. Seriously, don't do it!

To PlanetGameCube:

Hello. I'm a huge DS fan, but the Wii is slowly but surely winning me over. I have a few questions about the sensor bar that I hope some of you might be able to answer.

I have very poor vision; I have to play my consoles about 2 feet from my TV to see them well enough to play them. I'm wondering what the range of the sensor bar will be, because I believe I heard it would be at least 3 feet, which would seriously affect me. And does the sensor bar need to be exactly above or below the TV? Also, could it be possible to set the sensor bar behind the TV instead of above or below it? That way I could put it behind it, centered, about 3 or 4 feet away from me, but I'm not sure if the TV's insides would mess with the reception. Or, I could put it below the TV, on top of a stand next to my Wii, and point at it below. Would that work?

Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

During my playtime with Zelda, I did a quick sensor bar test. The minimum distance away from the sensor bar that you'll need to be to prevent any controller issues looks as if it's about 2½ or 3 feet. Any closer, and it looks like the remote loses track of one of the bar's IR points and goes haywire. That only applies to games that need the bar to point at stuff, though, so if you want to play Excite Truck, there's no need to point at it. In fact, you probably don't even need the sensor bar once the game starts.

There is no restriction on where you place the sensor bar, other than the remote must see it. It cannot be hidden from view because the controller's pointing tech uses an infrared signal. Other than that, you can put it on the floor, against a wall, on the ceiling; just make sure that you point at the bar instead of the television, and there are no strong light sources in the direction which you intend on pointing.

Just realised this, so had to ask. I was reading a feature on the Wii, specifically about the Classic Controller. It can't be used on GameCube games, right? It's entirely for playing Virtual Console games, right? So why in the name of Mario's dungarees are there TWO ANALOGUE STICKS?!?

Thanks, Chris C

P.S. In the final question of the Zelda Mailbag (Gabe's), he asked you whether enemies dropped weapons. You incorrectly thought he was talking about Chu Jellies and the like - don't you remember that, for example, Moblins actually dropped their spears when you killed them in Wind Waker, which you could then pick up and either use or chuck at other enemies? That was great fun! Is it in Twilight Princess? (that was the question I believe he was asking)

The Wii classic controller can also be used to play N64 games, so the second stick can emulate the C-Buttons on the N64 controller. But really, the second stick is there so that developers have an option to offer traditional dual-analog controls to those that want to use it. Nintendo's thinking was that it would make it easier for publishers to order Wii ports of their multiplatform games, since developers could just transfer over their control schemes and not do much else but to get the games working on the Wii platform. They should be coming up with Wii-specific controls, honestly.

P.S. Ah, that's what we was talking about. To re-answer that question, it doesn't appear Link can pick up other weapons. All he's got to work with is his own sword, which is all he needs!


I was wondering, is the Wii points "region free"? Can I buy a Wii point card from, say Japan, and use it on my European Wii? I'm asking because I'm thinkg of importing the 5000 Wii point + Classic Controller deal which is only available in Japan.

Best regards,

Frank Eivind Rundholt

I don't know for sure, but my gut's telling me Wii Points won't be interchangeable from region to region. They way I figure it, all the Wii Points cards in North America will be activated by NOA (when swiped at the register), and all the cards in Japan will be activated by NCL. Same deal for Europe, I guess. Importing a pre-activated Wii Points card may be different, but for me personally, I wouldn't risk it. You could always try using your credit card to buy points, because plastic is a universal currency!

Hey Windy (that's you right?), I was wondering if you or anyone else knew any info about the ports of the Metal Slug series and if, in fact, they do use the abilities of the Wiimote. If so, and it does a good job of it, that would warrant a buy, if not, then I think it's completely useless to even port it over to Wii when all the games are on the Neogeo (some on Atomiswave), and then also on PS1 and PS2. While not everyone owns those, why would SNK port the games again?

I'm just wanting to know what they'll do to the controls. If they're really improved, then the game would rock all the more. If not, then I guess it'll be a game I've played too many times over the years, and it'll be quite boring.

-- Saturn2888

Metal Slug Anthology is going to have all seven Metal Slug games on the same disc. All of them! It doesn't matter that they've been released before individually. You get them all in one convenient Wii disc! Bargain!

Not only will you get seven games, you'll have just about as many control configurations. I believe there will be six different controller options in the final product: GameCube controller, Wii classic controller, Wii remote sideways position (NES pad) are three, and the others are nunchuck/remote combinations. Chances are you'll find one you like, but if all else fails you can always plug in the GC pad and shoot-'em-up with that.

There's only one more week until the Wii launches! Not only should you be excited about that, you should also be excited about the new PGC! It's going to be here by the end of the week...or maybe even sooner than that.

There will be no mailbag next Sunday, in part because we will all be playing the hell out our Wiis and writing up impressions and reviews of all the launch titles. You can still send those questions, but chances are they won't get answered until after the Wii launch. So plan ahead and ask questions from the future. Or hire a time machine. Either way, keep sending in mail!

I'll see you from the other side.

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