Nintendo Has A Plan To Deal With Its Wii U Calibration Problem

The most significant flaw I found with the otherwise-sturdy Wii U last week was the new screen controller's inability to "remember" its position vis a vis your TV. This proved to be a problem for games that required the GamePad to be aimed at the TV, since the GamePad's internal motion sensors would gradually lose track of where the TV had been. A simple button press on the controller would reset its centre point.

Nintendo's chief game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, didn't need to watch my video demonstration of the Wii U's calibration problem, to be aware of it.

The problem is understandable. The Wii U GamePad, unlike the Wii Remote, has no sensor that detects the sensor bar that Wii and Wii U owners will likely have set up in front of their TV. The Wii Remote has one right at its point.

"It's true that with some of the sensors that are used [in the GamePad,] there are limits to the precision they are able to measure," Miyamoto told me. "It becomes our role to look at how can we manage that or how can we make it so that the reclaibration becomes part of the gameplay. That's what we're going to be working on going forward."

He observed that the Pikmin 3, when controlled by the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, does not have these calibration issues. He's right. But when it's played with the GamePad, a configuration that lets you move a cursor in the game world with tilts of the GamePad, the calibration gradually denigrates. Eventually, resting your controller in what feels like a central position leaves the cursor on the screen a bit off-center. Tapping a button on the controller re-sets it to the centre.

I suggested to Miyamoto that better sensors might fix this. "Of course, in terms of the cost of goods, if there comes a time further down the road where you're able to get much more precise sensors and you're able to bring those in at a cost that is not too expensive, there might be an opportunity to improve that," he said. "But what we're doing [now] is we're looking at... bringing in the best technology we can within a cost that's affordable The rest of it is on us to ensure in the software that we're programming it in such a way to adapt for that."

Both Pikmin 3 and the mini-game in Nintendo Land that produced this problem were in unfinished states at E3. And the majority of Wii U software that I played didn't have these issues — because they weren't designed to require the GamePad to "point" at the TV. There are, therefore, reasons to think that Nintendo can game-design its way around the issue. But if they can't completely, maybe it's time to think about adding a Wii Remote-style infrared sensor to the GamePad controller.


    Skyward Sword, Wii Sports Resort, Red Steel 2, every PlayStation Move game, every Kinect game...

    This is less of an issue than you're making out. Many motion games have this "problem"... The fix is tapping a button sometimes. Woah - such a hard job. Maybe Nintendo will go bankrupt.

    You don't see the technical marvel of having the device know where it is without an IR sensor?! You're using space to determine a location that is right 99% of the time. Nothing "sees" the GamePad - it calculates where the cursor should appear on screen.

    Seriously, this is a non issue.

      I agree. Typical obtrusions of the corner of menace will spruce a giant gorbulet manisfestation of the screen. I think Nintendo will NOT go bankrupt as a result of this.

      And the screen calibration issue is NOT an issue, because it does not have a shoe.

    At least we now know there'll be a GamePad Plus or some such.

    I really hope they fix the hardware. Making the calibration part of the gameplay does not sound fun.

    A cheap and nasty solution is to allow a Wii Remote to clip underneath the gamepad and use that as an infrared sensor

    I bet we'll be seeing the 3DS Pro next year which is bigger and has the extra circle pad and shoulder buttons.

      crap, commented on wrong page. Disregard!

    Kinda surprised the thing doesn't have a Wii Remote's pointer mounted in the front there.

    To go that route you'd have to have the sensors on both sides, at least, because you don't know which way someone's going to prefer holding it. Could be more expensive than they think. Can't they use the camera on the front to remember a "neutral" in relation to your face, or something? Fix it with software.

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