Early Wiimote Designs Uncovered In Leaked Nintendo Emails

The massive Nintendo "Gigaleak" never seems to end

A Nintendo Wii Remote.
Photo: Evan Amos

It’s been quite some time since we’ve heard anything about the so-called “Gigaleak,” a treasure trove of internal Nintendo data that proliferated online in 2020, but that changed today with the release of a new batch of leaked files. Anyone interested in Nintendo Wii Remote prototypes?

Advertisement

Video game preservationists like Forest of Illusion and lombTV say that the latest Gigaleak drop revealed a bundle of Nintendo emails from around 2006, the year the Wii launched worldwide. Among these internal messages were reportedly several image attachments of early Wiimote designs, though I’m told context is difficult to ascertain as the files aren’t tied to specific emails within the data’s folder structure.

First off, some lime-green gentlemen with various button placements from an email dated July 28, 2005, making them some of the earliest Wiimote prototypes available publicly. These are probably the most unique of the bunch, with several additional buttons that aren’t present in the final design.

I’m particularly fond of the way the L and R buttons are positioned around the main face button in the second and third designs. It’s also interesting to see Nintendo experiment with making the Wiimote more like a television remote with the circular buttons in the fourth and fifth designs. This probably wouldn’t have been all that comfortable, but hey, that’s probably why they didn’t make the cut.

Subsequent images feature Wiimotes that are more closely aligned with what launched with the console, with a few key differences. The buttons that would eventually become Plus and Minus were, at some point, tested as both rewind/pause buttons and nondescript arrows.

Advertisement

A chief concern at Nintendo, according to translations provided by lombTV, is that the arrows may have been difficult for both adults and children to immediately comprehend since the notation hadn’t been used for any of the company’s previous controllers. Nintendo eventually settled on the Plus and Minus since they were “easy for anyone to read.”

As with past Gigaleak drops—which included everything from a cigarette-smoking Toad to a Luigi texture in an early build of Super Mario 64—these Wiimote prototypes are a wonderful piece of gaming history that, sadly, Nintendo has chosen to keep locked away. Good thing we have leaks to fill in the gaps.

Advertisement

 

DISCUSSION

By
MANGANious

This is a case where I felt like they should’ve added the X-Y/L-R buttons in its standard cross design but horizontally aligned at the bottom of the wiimote instead of just 1-2. I still like the design of the wiimote, but I wish they didn’t make it so specialised for just one thing. They really went all in on the motion control side of things while barely tailoring games for that aspect.

The Switch gets me especially disappointed about this. They’re always just one-and-done demo-reels despite the Switch having multiple underused features. I’m glad that a WarioWare game is coming to slightly alleviate this, but I’m still waiting for more games that is best played in docked mode with touch controls or undocked with motion pointer controls, like RTS games for example.

I also wished more games utilised the haptic rumble features gameplay-wise. Felt like only Snipperclips and one other game did this and then no one else. Not even Nintendo utilises these features on a frequent basis even though their games have the benefit of doing so because they’re exclusive to the Switch.