With the introduction of its innovative motion controller, Nintendo Wii changed forever the way we interact with our games (until the launch of Kinect, that is). It didn’t took that long until accessories producers copied the concept hoping to also copy the success Nintendo had. Probably the most well known PC motion sensor controller is the Genius Wizard Stick manufactured by Genius and based on the AIWI software platform, controller that makes the object of today’s review.
The Genius Wizard Stick Box contains the motion controller itself, batteries, printed manuals, a wrist strap, the driver/AIWI gaming platform CD and the SEGA Virtual Tennis 2009 game CD as well. To ensure you won’t loose it, the tiny USB wireless adapter is stuck inside the Genius Wizard Stick (I couldn’t find it at first).
- Wireless motion joystick with G-sensor
- Weight: 78g without batteries
- Dimensions: 15cm x 4.5cm x 2.5cm (1 inch = 2.54 cm)
- Connects to PC to play motion games
- Bundled AIWI gaming platform to download to iPhone, Android smart phone or iPod touch, and turn them into a motion joystick
- Play 16 flash games on website
- Plug & Play
The installation process for the Genius Wizard stick is literally a no-brainer, at least in covering the basic functionality. Just pop-in the driver CD and install both the driver and the AIWI platform. The AIWI platform will prompt you to create an online account and then you can download a number of Flash based games supporting the platform (bear in mind that you’ll need at least a dual core to render the Flash games properly). Interesting to know is that AIWI supports different accelerometers as well and provides free software to install on your iPhone / Android phones to take advantage of the hardware you already have. However, if you don’t really like the idea to use your iPhone as a motion controller (it doesn’t come with a wrist strap 😉 ), the dedicated one from Genius will provide much better control and ergonomics.
Once you install the drivers and the wireless adapter, power up the stick and in several seconds it will establish the connection and the blue LED light will start flickering steady. By default, it will function as a mouse so you might need to switch to gaming depending of your intended usage.
PC aside, there are several ways to connect your smartphone running AIWI to your gaming PC:
- Wireless AP (Wireless Access Point) – You’ll have to be on the same access point though
- Internet Tethering by Bluetooth
- Ad hoc (Point-to-Point) – This will require your PC to have a wireless card
Genius Wizard Stick Hardware
Let’s talk now about hardware…The Wizard Stick from Genius feels very good in your hand, has enough weight to make you fell comfortable and fully emulates a controller. You can use it as a mouse or as a game controller selectable by simultaneously pressing S + Menu buttons. On the front, Genius Wizard Stick features a directional pad, S and Power buttons, A button (accept, enter, mouse click ,etc depends of context). There is a menu button as well plus 4 different function buttons, very similar with a standard controller. On the back, there is a B button as well. On top of the controller, a quite bright blue LED will indicate whether the controller is turned on and connected.
In our tests the Genius Wizard Stick is quite responsive and precise, maybe on par with the motion controller used by Wii. It really depends of the game played, but it works quite well playing the Virtua Tennis 2009 after you get used to it. The added bonus is the mouse functionality which is fast and precise, so if you have a Media Center HTPC, you can use the controller for some more precise selection activities.
AIWI Software Platform
AIWI is fairly ambitious in its goals, trying to combine several motion control devices (we mentioned iPhone / Android) and some dedicated controllers as well. If you purchase the genius controller, you’ll have access to twelve Flash Games, SEGA Virtual Tennis 2009 included in the bundle and several other popular games that can use the platform including:
- Virtua Tennis 2009
- Tiger Woods PGA tour 08
- Need For speed –shift
- Burnout.Paradis: The Ultimate
- Street fighter IV
- Vancouver 2010
- Assassin’s Creed 2
- Shin Sangokumusou 5
- Pro evolution soccer 2010
The Flash Games are OK, but nothing to write home about. Being free, we can’t really complain though, as they really add value to the package and offer an introduction in what the platform can accomplish. The Genius Wizard Stick maps through its included software as a game controller so presumably it can be successfully used by a larger range of games in the future.
Genius Wizard Stick is the best example of motion controller available on the PC platform today and it doesn’t disappoint. It offers a dual mode, gaming and mouse, a good precision for both motion and mouse mode and comes with a number of games to keep you entertained for a while. The platform is quite new, and I expect more games to become compatible as well in time. Best of all, if you are into PC games, it gives you a taste of console gaming for cheap ($69.99 at Amazon). Recommended!
- dual mode (mouse and motion controller)
- AIWI platform also allows iPhone / Android phones to chip in if you need multi-player
- needs more games but this is something that will be fixed in time