Prototype Proves Wii was Two Gamecubes Taped Together All Along

Say what you will about Nintendo’s little purple lunchbox, the Gamecube, but it was home to many delightful experiences from Super Smash Bros. Melee to The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. We now know it was also home to one of the very first Nintendo Wii remotes as well thanks to the recent listing from [Kuriaisu1122] on Yahoo Auctions.

The prototype Wii remote is a wired design and features a proprietary Gamecube controller cable. Notable differences include the two buttons toward the bottom are labeled ‘B’ and ‘A’ respectively. This shows that Nintendo always intended to have players hold the remote sideways in order to play Virtual console games. The large white button next to the directional pad is unlabeled, and along the middle are the traditional ‘Start’ and ‘Select’ labels on either side of ‘Home’. However, these all would go through multiple revisions on the way to the final design. Interestingly there is an Ethernet jack at the base used to connect accessories. That connector would eventually become the often maligned “Nunchuk interface”, but what modder wouldn’t have loved it if that Ethernet port had carried on to the final design?

Much like the “invaluable” Mario Party 6 microphone, the prototype’s IR sensor bar communicates via the Gamecube memory card port. The auction listing featured a photo size comparison of the prototype sensor bar is around four inches wider than the final design. Missing from the prototype Wii remote is the small tinny speaker, but that always seemed like an after thought anyway.

Credence as to the controller’s validity was given in a tweet from WayForward’s James Montagna who said on Twitter, “Wow, it’s the prototype Wii Remote & Nunchuk! I remember seeing these back when it was still known as the Nintendo Revolution!”. Montagna would go on to post photos of the Wii remote from E3 2006 that featured ‘Back’ and ‘Pause’ buttons where the plus and minus buttons would ultimately reside on the final design. These photos of the missing links in the evolution of the Wii remote help fill in the design process at Nintendo. They also further the idea that Nintendo always wanted players to measure each of their new consoles’ processing power in “X number of Gamecubes duct taped together”.

[via Nintendo Life]

For more on the console formerly known as the Nintendo Revolution, check out this incredible Wii console mod in an Altoids tin featured on Hackaday.

26 thoughts on “Prototype Proves Wii was Two Gamecubes Taped Together All Along

  1. Great insight. Nitpick: Looks more like an RJ11 than an RJ45 (what Ethernet uses) to me. Even if it was RJ45, it’s rather unlikely to be Ethernet-related.
    Nowadays, you likely wouldn’t use RJ45 for anything else than Ethernet in consumer devices because you just know people would plug an Ethernet cable in, but for prototyping (or even just e.g. industrial use), those connectors are still popular.

    1. APC at least used to use a modified RJ45 for USB connections on UPSes, nicely pinned out so that you can’t simply use a standard RJ45 to make your own cable. My best guess why is so they can charge $30 or whatever if you lose the cable.

  2. I seem to recall hearing that at one point early on the Wii remote started its life as a Gamecube accessory, but it (obviously) got turned into its own console once Nintendo saw the potential for it.

  3. Frankly, I expected more from Hackaday than reprinting the same lame commentary as every other “tech blog”.
    The Wii has Gamecube connectors. That is why these prototypes are using them.

    1. Kotaku had more intelligent (and correct) commentary:
      “The prototype wasn’t an indication that Nintendo once had intentions of putting motion controls on the GameCube, as many had long believed based on patent diagrams. Instead, it was part of a dev kit so that designers could begin prototyping games for Nintendo’s future motion control console while it was still being created.”

  4. The “sensor bar” probably isn’t “communicating” anything through the memory card port, it’s probably just using it for power. Since the bar isn’t really a sensor, just a couple of simple steady IR LEDs acting as beacons, that show up on the Wiimote’s end camera.

    The camera looks at the LEDs an, if you move it towards them, the two spots appear to get further apart. Twist it to the left, and they appear to turn to the right. Etc. So it’s a nice, easy, and accurate way of measuring orientation and position that is relative to the bar’s fixed point in space, alongside the dead reckoning you use with the MEMS IMUs. Without it, drift would soon build up to impossible levels.

    Since they’re just IR emitting LEDs, people have replaced them in the past with candles, just to prove a point.

    1. “Since they’re just IR emitting LEDs, people have replaced them in the past with candles, just to prove a point.”

      My TV is next to my fireplace. We had to be careful with our angles when playing the Wii while we had a fire going…

  5. This doesn’t prove anything, also, I’m pretty sure that the final version of the sensor bar doesn’t communicate with anything, you can use a pair of candles in its place.

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